News Round-Ups


Preserving the Pre-Historic: You may have heard of such initiatives promoting the preservation of the modern and recent past, well how about projects that worked towards preserving the exact opposite--all while incorporating modern design and materials? Earth Architecture provides some interesting photos from a 1930's project to protect Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. " Perhaps nowhere is the blending of modernity and tradition more evident than at the Casa Grande Ruins National Monument. Casa Grande was constructed between AD 1200-1450 by the Native American Hohokam near Phoenix, Arizona. In 1892, President Benjamin Harrison created the Casa Grande Ruin Reservation to protect the one of a kind "Casa Grande", or Great House, thus becoming the first prehistoric and cultural site to be established in the United States." [Earth Architecture]

Saving the Economy with Preservation: "Think about it historically – preservation was rife in the Great Depression in places like Charleston and Greenwich Village. This was the time of sweat equity, and that community-oriented effort continued into the 1960s and gave us the modern preservation movement: a movement about communities taking control of their environment." [Time Tells]

Undulating Brick Walls: "A brick is a modular masonry unit, something that wouldn't appear to "want to be" composed into undulating surfaces. Of course this doesn't stop architects from trying, from using limitations as inspiration and opportunities for doing something new." Daily Dose uses some examples from modern architecture to show the innovative ways in which architects have attempted to bend and shape brick walls and forms outside of their supposed 'naturally' flat state of being. [Daily Dose of Architecture]

Montpelier Restoration Update: The grand opening has come and gone, but restoration work continues at the National Trust Historic Site. [Montpelier Restoration Updates]

Dude, Where's My Car?: A former impound lot in downtown Minneapolis could find new life as "multi-unit housing and a corporate campus." [Star Tribune]

21st Century Street Designers Reimagine 4th Ave and 9th: "Transportation Alternatives announced three winners today in their "Designing the 21st Century Street," competition, which sought new visions for the heavily-trafficked intersection of 4th Avenue and 9th Street in Park Slope. The intersection is notoriously dreary and annoying, with pedestrians coming from the east forced to cross several lanes of traffic to get to the shabby elevated F station, which will be renovated someday maybe, the MTA swears." [Gothamist]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


New Jersey Historic Sites at Risk: It's a situation becoming all too common around the country. PreserveNJ discusses the risk that historic sites the Garden State are facing due to the current economic crisis. "We’re going to have to explore innovative ways of funding and managing these important historic places as the NJ state budget shrinks even more." [PreservNJ]

Time Tells on Tulsa: Some very cool photos and reflections from Vince Michael on his experiences at the National Preservation Conference. [Time Tells]

Linked Voids: BLDGBLOG ponders the "so-called birthmark of the World Trade Center," giant, cast-iron rings that were the last traces of the old Hudson and Manhattan RR which crossed underneath the World Trade Center site. "What was once a tunnel – an underground space of air – has been strangely inverted, transformed into an object, freed from its terrestrial context." [BLDGBLOG]

Dubai's Anara Tower Hopes to Gain LEED Silver: In what would surely be the most lavishly designed building to achieve such certification, the iconic Dubai Anara Tower--which has yet to begin construction-- is looking to get LEED Silver status. [Jetson Green]

Revitalization of Crotona Park East: The Bronx neighborhood which President Carter once called America's "worst slum," has come a long way since the 1970's. While some old problems still linger, Crotona Park East has been recently described as having a "suburb in the city" feel to it. [New York Times - Real Estate]

Ebola Island?: The National Trust has a lot of interest in Gulf Coast Recovery and the areas that have been affected by the devastating hurricanes over the past few years. This article may not have anything to do with preservation, but the idea of a national biological defense lab situated so closely to areas that have been ravished by recent storms is alarming. The building is supposedly built to withstand the most devastating of conditions, "says the lab's deputy director, 'The entire island can wash away and this is still going to be here.'" [Pruned]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


Change of the Season At the Soldiers' Home: Leaves are falling at President Lincoln's Cottage, revealing the stunning views into the city that President Lincoln once enjoyed. [President Lincoln's Cottage]

House Museums and Ultimate Use: Vince Michael reports from the National Preservation Conference on the annual Site Council meetings. [Time Tells]

Everhouse - A new Plan for post-Katrina Homes: Housing is still a major problem in the post-Katrina Gulf Coast.  John Sawyer, a Boston-based builder, has proposed an affordable and efficient solution to the problem. [Innovation - The Christian Science Monitor]

The Supersurface of Architectural Diaspora: Pruned uses the recent planned movement of a church in China to discuss landscape history and changes to place and space. [Pruned]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


My apologies for the delay in this week's Preservation Round-Up. Our usual recapper is in Tulsa at the National Preservation Conference, so I'm jumping in, albeit a little late.

In the midst of our current hotly-contested presidential election, it's no surprise that politics is on everyone's mind -- including preservationists. Katie Eggers Comeau at the Landmark Society of Western New York has written a great, nonpartisan post about politics and preservation:

After all, historic preservation ties into issues that candidates on both sides hold dear: it’s about strengthening local economies and creating local jobs, revitalizing historic downtowns and neighborhoods, conserving a unique sense of place, protecting the environment, and protecting and promoting the places that have contributed to our national character over the generations.

Preservation New Jersey shares the stories of two specific sites that are threatened and draws connections between the budget woes in the Garden State and recent concerns that have left sites in California and Illinois similarly at risk.

The Governor and Administration have warned fans and supporters of state historic sites and parks that new sources of non-tax revenue must be found in order to keep these important places open and available to NJ citizens.

In 2006, we listed Kenilworth, Illinios on our annual list of America's 11 Most Endangered Places as its historic homes were at risk from teardowns. A little over two years later, Vince Michael has taken a look at the ways Kenilworth residents are fighting the trend -- and the opposition they continue to face.

So, the village came up with a clever plan: list the town on the National Register of Historic Places. This adds NO regulation to homeowners and provides NO protection against teardowns, but addresses the media embarrassment. It also would allow ONLY THOSE HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO to take advantage of the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze program. Upside without a downside.

Hmm... I've picked a couple of heavy topics there, so I'll end with a couple of lighter ones:

Our own Max van Balgooy, director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites, has recapped the lessons he learned at the Attingham Summer School program in England:

Personally, the greatest value of the Attingham Summer School is experiencing the interplay between art, furniture, rooms, buildings, and landscape. It truly points out the distinctions among historic sites, museums, and art galleries.

If this sounds like it might be up your alley, the application deadline for next year's course is January 31, 2009.

Preservation Greensboro is getting into the spirit of the season with a family-friendly evening of supernatural tales at the Blandwood Mansion this Saturday.

Blandwood’s front parlor is among the best-preserved Victorian interior's in North Carolina, and no better place to hear a story.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the National Trust's social media strategist. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.


It's Columbus Day: Long the hero of elementary school history lessons, the actions of the Genovese admiral have understandably come under closer scrutiny and criticism in the past few decades, following the rise and inclusion of the new social histories. While the destruction of people and culture that did result from European-Native interaction can not be justified, it's important to remember the words of Marc Bloch and his seminal work, The Historian's Craft: "What do I care for a historian's belated decision on [a] point? We should only beg him not to be so hypnotized by his own choice as to forget at the time another was possible." To summarize--historians make terrible judges. Comparing choices made by people from one time period to the next is an easy and understandable activity, but doing so, and acting like a "judge in Hades, charged with meting out praise or blame to dead heroes," fences our comprehension of history. Some Americans may celebrate the holiday, while others may consider it an imperialistic recognition of genocide. Either way, we have to remember that it is our responsibility to avoid simply passing judgment and instead unearth the facts and provide the clearest picture of the past as possible. Here's a few links to stories out there on Columbus Day. Enjoy the day off from work and school! (If you were lucky enough, that is)

Huffington Post - Story on Columbus Day Celebrations and Columbus Circle, NYC

American Creation - A religious history look at whether we should celebrate the holiday.

Tower Blog - Books on the subject.

Odd Wisconsin - Probably one of the smallest cities named after Columbus is in Wisconsin, with some cool info on the city.

Will Gulf Coast Communities Ever Be Safe From Hurricanes?: Coastal towns along the Bayou have been slammed by hurricanes in the past few years. Besides the destructive damage severe storms bring to buildings and their cities, the coastal wetlands and barrier islands of Louisiana are diminishing at an alarming rate. According to, since the 1930's the region has lost 1,900 square miles of land--an area equivalent to the size of Delaware. Storms such as Rita, Katrina, Ike and Gustav have all contributed to the situation, which is proving extremely dangerous for the communities of Cajun and French-Indian people who call the areas home. [AlterNet]

Urban Sprawl and the Swiss Alps: It's many a man's dream to one day reside in a quaint, mountainside, alpine cabin--but at what cost? "The Swiss National Science Foundation study released on Wednesday revealed that since 1935 urban development has claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the previous 2,000 years." []

19th Century Presidential Mudslinging: If only once I could turn on a presidential debate and hear one candidate label his opponent a scurvy knave or a dastardly charlatan. Lincoln's Cottage looks at documents from the 1860 election, where in a New York Tribune editorial, "the Republicans claimed the Democrats formed, 'the rendezvous of thieves, the home of parasites and bloodsuckers, the enemy of God and man, the stereotyped fraud, the sham, the hypocrite, the merciless marauder, and the outlaw renegade and malefactor.'" The democratic explanation of Lincoln's emigration to Illinois from the South is equally colorful. [President Lincoln's Cottage Blog]

The New Modernity: "Historic preservation is one result of the collision between tradition and modernity. As traditions and traditional things become obsolete, we desire to preserve them. It is an impulse with expressions as diverse as Mount Vernon and Farm Aid. The advent of “globalization” in the 1990s caused much hand-wringing, although historians and economists might argue that globalization is contemporaneous with modern capitalism, dating to the late 18th century creation of the joint-stock corporation. Preservation has similar roots and a similar timeline – it is a product of the Enlightenment." [Time Tells]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.


Heritage Preservation, Tourism and Inclusive Development in Panama City's Casco Antiguo: Efforts to revitalize historic districts in order to attract tourism in Latin American cities have often resulted in the displacement of the actual residents through gentrification and commercialization. Many of the people who have called the neighborhoods home for generations are low income families whose lifestyles don't always mesh with an increased accommodation to foreign tourists. Recently however, historic city center rehabilitation is being looked at in a broader view of pursuing "the recovery of the city centers (historical or otherwise) because of their key role as collective symbols or spaces of social interaction, or because of their potential efficiency as dense, well-serviced urban districts." [Land Lines- Lincoln Institute of Land Policy]

Civil War Photography Demonstration at President Lincoln's Cottage: This Saturday check out a free demonstration of wet plate collodion process, the technique used by photographers during the Civil War. Developed in the 1850's the technique produced a negative image, allowing photographers to replicate an unlimited number of prints from one photo--a huge advantage over the contemporary Daguerreotype. The demonstration takes place at 10 am and is free! [President Lincoln's Cottage Blog]

LEED Platinum Home of the Future Reduces Energy Costs by 80%: Imagine paying only 24 dollars per month in combined electrical and gas bills. This house of the future in the Sacramento-area town of Folsom is constructed "like a big thermos" according to it's designer and is only the second home in California to achieve LEED Platinum distinction. Energy saving resources include:

  • Resource efficient framing with blown-in cellulose insulation and two layers of Icynene foam insulation on the outside of the wall;
  • Spectrally selective glass windows with specially coated glazing to reduce radiant heat gain and loss;
  • A 3.85 kilowatt solar energy system with battery back-up;
  • Solar-assisted hot water and space heating with an advanced boiler;
  • State-of-the-art water cooled evaporative air conditioning;
  • Fluorescent and advanced LED fixtures that last 10 times longer and use 75 percent less energy than standard lighting;
  • Water efficient landscaping and irrigation with satellite assisted weather station on the irrigation controls;
  • Patios enclosed by recycled glass; and
  • Low VOC paints, cabinets and flooring for better indoor air quality

[Jetson Green]

Urban Adventurers: Who says you need mountains, backwoods trails, or whitewater rapids to find adventure these days? Now city-foots can find adventure too, and they don't even have to leave the metro area. Climbing, crawling and generally just breaking into abandoned buildings is growing in popularity amongst city dwellers looking for some weekend adventure. The British Royal Society for Prevention of Accidents has labeled such activity as "dangerous and irresponsible behaviour," but to urban adventurers, abandoned buildings offer a "fascinating, if dusty, window into a bygone era. The explorers use aliases to protect their identity, adding to the movement's mystique. Many are photography enthusiasts who post artistic pictures of their latest daring exploits online. Others are in it purely for the thrill, clambering to the top of towering cranes or exploring the network of sewers and storm drains beneath." The National Trust for Historic Preservation would like to advise our readers that we in no way condone or promote illegal and dangerous activity--no matter how cool the building may look, or exhilarating said activity may be. [The Independent]

Archaic Bathing Machines: Last week we featured a photo of mobile beach homes from Pruned. Here's another photo of a mobile beach house used by King Alfonso XIII of Spain. [Pruned]

Hitchcock and Architecture: anArchitecture ("An architecture blog dedicated to architecture and architecture thinking, news, links and opinions") points out Alfred Hitchcock's use of space in his films. Included, a ten minute sampler from Vertigo. [anArchitecture]

English Sites Pose Preservation Questions: Max van Balgooy from the National Trust for Historic Preservation discusses questions arising from the many preservation practices in England. [National Trust Historic Sites Weblog]

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.