News Round-Ups

Preservation Round-Up: The Barn from Charlotte's Web Edition

Posted on: April 23rd, 2012 by David Garber 2 Comments


A classic red New England barn. (Photo: Lost-In-Maylene on Flickr)

Celebrating 60 Years of ‘Charlotte’s Web’ - The New York Times

"The barn was very large. It was very old. For more than a century before E. B. White and his wife, Katharine, purchased the farm in 1933, the barn had stood on a rise above Allen Cove, Me., near the village of North Brooklin. For White, the barn was the center of their 40 acres, even more so than the big white house that was attached to it by an aromatic woodshed. The building united White’s two great writerly loves -- barnyard animals and Maine."

America’s Oldest Net-Zero Home - Natural Home & Garden

"Turning a century-old Victorian house into a net-zero home might sound like an ambitious goal for a young couple in their first home, but Kelly and Matt Grocoff, a self-described “average couple” from Ann Arbor, Michigan, did just that, and now own the oldest home in America to achieve net-zero energy."

Preserving history, or the 1 percent? - Salon

"Restricting development in pricey neighborhoods, the new thinking goes, not only cements a city’s best sections as enclaves for the rich, it has wider anti-urban reverberations. It promotes suburbanization by pricing out the middle class. It prevents densification, the greenest, most efficient use of space and the defining characteristic of cities. And less density makes walkable, retail- and transit-oriented neighborhoods harder to sustain."

On Block in Harlem, Neighbors’ Push for Restoration Will End in Demolition - The New York Times

"Gentrification, or at the very least prettification, has reshaped block after block in Harlem, but it has not fully arrived at East 126th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. There, handsome rows of century-and-a-half-old brownstones line the north and south sides of the street, just as they do one block west, on a pristine tree-lined stretch where homeowners keep polished doorknobs and spotless front stoops. But along East 126th Street, vacant buildings are interspersed among the inhabited ones."

The Distinctive City - Urban Land

"If I have learned anything from my career in urban planning, it is this: a community’s appeal drives economic prosperity. I have also learned that, while change is inevitable, the destruction of a community’s unique character and identity is not. Progress does not demand degraded surroundings. Communities can grow without destroying the things that people love."

Cleveland's past and present merge in repurposed, grand old buildings -

"Every day I come to work and I'm inspired to put as much care into my food as they put in this building," says Schimoler, chef and owner of Crop. "This place cost $1.5 million to build in 1925, and these days it would cost $30 million. Who could ever build something like this these days, especially to house a restaurant?"

Taking Guardianship of a Historic Home - The Wall Street Journal

"More than anything, owners of historic homes buy for love. Love of the artisanship, architectural details and even the quirks. Still, it’s a smart investment. A landmark plaque on a residence increases property value. It assures buyers the qualities that attracted them to the home in the first place will endure over time."

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.

Green Round-Up: Old is the New New Edition

Posted on: April 16th, 2012 by Rachel Bowdon


When architect Jean Carroon presented at the James River Green Building Council in Charlottesville on April 10th, her message regarding the environmental benefits of preservation was clear: 

"Stewardship is the heart of the environmental movement. The only way we can really take care of nature is by taking care of what is all around us and believing in the power of preservation. [...] Every time we extend the service life of a building, we avoid the environmental impacts of creating something new, we avoid the environmental impacts of our throwaway culture."

Rendering of a new Passive House office/restaurant reuse project in Portland, Oregon. (Image: Scott | Edwards Architecture)

Carroon’s message is refreshing in a world where far too often older buildings are demolished or abandoned in favor of something new -- "green building" or not.

Many others around the world are proving the green power of preservation and conservation through a variety of reuse and retrofit projects. From the eco-renovation of a power plant into apartments to the conversion of a 96-year-old building into a Passive House, these stories are truly remarkable.

The same Portland building as above, as it appeared before construction. (Photo: Hammer and Hand)

Portland Building Gunning for First Commercial U.S. Passive House Retrofit - DJC Oregon

"A 96-year-old building in Southeast Portland being renovated by Hammer and Hand is in the running to be the first commercial Passive House retrofit in the U.S. "Basically we are totally revamping the envelope of the building," said Skylar Swinford, a Passive House consultant at Hammer and Hand. "We wanted to build it how we’ll actually be building in the future. Why build something now that will be obsolete in five or 10 years when the next code comes out?" Passive House is a German building standard that uses advanced energy modeling and airtight construction techniques to dramatically reduce energy consumption." ... Read More →

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.

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Preservation Round-Up: 8th Wonder Edition

Posted on: April 9th, 2012 by David Garber


The Astrodome, now a windswept relic. (Photo: kshilcutt on Flickr)

8th Wonder: A Tour of Houston's Rotting Astrodome - Houston Press

"The Reliant Astrodome was -- is -- the Eighth Wonder of the World. Generations of Houston-area kids spent their days dreaming of playing on the field under that massive domed ceiling. On Tuesday, April 3, Reliant officials gave a handful of members of the media a tour of the once-magnificent Mid Century American icon." Story: Digging Around the All-But-Abandoned Astrodome.

Restoring Retro Hollywood, One Apartment at a Time - The Atlantic Cities

"Los Angeles native Dave Goldstein is passionate about historic restoration. He began collecting and restoring vintage apartment buildings 25 years ago. Today, he has a portfolio of 30-plus properties restored to their original condition, and a following of art deco and Hollywood groupies lining up to rent them."

Hold That Bridge! This Dilapidated Warehouse Is a Landmark - The Bay Citizen

"The massive steel infrastructure that supports construction of the new Bay Bridge carefully straddles a dilapidated 19th-century warehouse. This nondescript, reportedly asbestos-infested wreck had been discarded for most of a century. Some consider the structure, known as Building 262, so historically important that the new $6 billion bridge construction must be accomplished without disturbing or damaging the relic."

Dodger Stadium Turns 50: Top 10 Moments - Los Angeles Times

"Times columnist John Hall wrote, from opening day of the 1962 season: "Los Angeles has itself a major league ballpark, a truly remarkable stadium that is obviously destined to become recognized as the finest in the world. And those who were there will never forget how it all started...""

Ohio Tears Through Blighted Housing Problem - National Public Radio

"Shuttered homes often draw arsonists, vandals and scrap metal thieves. To help alleviate those problems, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine wants to destroy abandoned homes all across the state. He's setting aside $75 million of the state's mortgage settlement money to fund the demolitions."

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.

Preservation Round-Up: The Rust Belt Edition

Posted on: April 5th, 2012 by David Garber 1 Comment


Lights over Cleveland's popular 4th Street. (Photo: Edsel L on Flickr)

The Rust Belt Revival - Details Magazine

"Maybe it hit you this past Super Bowl when you saw Clint Eastwood's rousing, Chrysler-sponsored paean to the resilience of Detroit: Motown's rebirth has become a metaphor for red, white, and blue fortitude in the face of adversity. But the Motor City is just the buckle on the Rust Belt, an entire region whose very name speaks of decline and decay but which is now determinedly -- and definitively -- finding its way forward."

15 Scenic Cities of the Rust Belt -

"No one can deny the awe-inspiring scenic beauty of Seattle, San Francisco, San Diego, or Salt Lake City. But, often overlooked are the splendid topographic and geographic settings where a number of Rust Belt cities are situated. Beautiful city settings of the Rust Belt  may not get the national notoriety and ink of their western competitors, but some are equally endowed with great scenery."

Buffalo, You Are Not Alone - Urbanophile

"These cities aren’t sexy. They aren’t hip. They don’t have the cachet of a Portland or Seattle. The creative class isn’t flocking. They are behind in the new economy, in the green economy. Look at any survey of the “best” cities and find the usual suspects of New York, Austin, San Francisco. Look at yet another Forbes “ten worst” list and see Cleveland and Toledo kicked again when they are down. They are portrayed as hopeless basket cases with no hope and no future." ... Read More →

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.

Preservation Round-Up: Jane Jacobs Edition

Posted on: March 26th, 2012 by Rachel Bowdon


Written over 50 years ago, Jane Jacobs’ The Death and Life of Great American Cities is still one of the most influential books in today's planning world. Celebrated among preservationists and urbanists alike, Jacobs believed that a mixture of uses and a diversity of building types is the key to any great city, and understood that historic preservation is essential to ensuring a community’s social and economic health.

Jacobs famously wrote that "cities need old buildings so badly it is probably impossible for vigorous streets and districts to grow without them." I recently read two blog posts that got me thinking more about the forces that threaten building diversity and the important role that preservation can play in achieving variety and balance of the built environment.

An original ad for Jacobs' most famous book. (Image: pdxcityscape on Flickr)

Generating and Preserving Diversity - City Builder Book Club

Reflecting on Jane Jacobs in his post Generating and Preserving Diversity, Aaron Renn discusses the detrimental effect of "upscaling" that occurs in many city cores as warehouses and class C office space are replaced with single-use districts with high-end functions. “This is reducing the supply of lower rent buildings, undermining one of the pillars of Jacobs foundations of diversity. […] The loss or upscale conversion of older and lower rent buildings in our central cities, while something to celebrate in many respects, should be a long term concern to those who care about truly sustainable urban diversity, especially if taken too far."

Jane Jacobs street art in Toronto. (Photo: ruffin_ready on Flickr)

Rightsizing Retail - The Architect's Newspaper

"It’s been exactly 50 years since urban activist Jane Jacobs described the sidewalk ballet in front of her home on Hudson Street in Greenwich Village. Developers from Seattle to New York are now trying to replicate her notions of mixed-used community while zoning departments from San Francisco to Toronto try to preserve the ones that are left. Jacobs wrote that neighborhood vitality was due in part to the trust between retailers and their neighbors: "It grows out of people stopping by the bar for a beer, getting advice from the grocer, and giving advice to the newsstand man, comparing opinions with other customers at the bakery…""

More preservation and urban diversity stories after the jump. ... Read More →

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.

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon

Rachel Bowdon is the program assistant for the Sustainability Program at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Preservation Round-Up: "What if he's in my outhouse?" Edition

Posted on: March 19th, 2012 by David Garber


An old outhouse in the gold rush ghost town of Bodie, California. (Photo: Jim Bahn on Flickr)

Lafayette woman excavates old outhouse to unearth unexpected treasuresLongmont Times-Call

"While excavating her home's old outhouse pit, Rebecca Schwendler set down her trowel and picked up the phone after unearthing what looked like two human finger bones and the top of a human thigh bone. "I thought 'Oh, my god. What if he's in my outhouse?'" Schwendler said, referring to a reputed unsolved murder in Lafayette in 1927..."

Relics of industrial past pose thorny preservation problem - Associated Press

"When Mary Lynne and Dan Kautz chose a place to hold their wedding reception, they didn't book a grand ballroom in some pricey hotel or a lavish suburban catering hall. Instead, they picked a crumbling, decrepit former train station in a run-down neighborhood on Buffalo's east side."

And the winner of Rethinking Preservation is... - Dwell

"The Union Depot in Keokuk, Iowa, by renowned turn-of-the-20th-century Chicago architectural firm Burnham and Root. We would like to congratulate Christen Sundquist, the architectural do-gooder who submitted the winning entry. Christen, a historic preservation graduate student at the Art Institute of Chicago, says she entered the competition with the high hopes that The Depot might be returned to its past grandeur."

Time finally runs out for historic ex-synagogue: City to proceed with demolition after owners relent - WBEZ Chicago

"Demolition would bring an end to a 99-year-old building that played key roles in North Lawndale's days as a predominantly Jewish community and its following decades as an African American neighborhood. Built for $100,000 in 1913 and designed by Aroner & Somers, it was among the grandest synagogues along Douglas and Independence boulevards. In the 1960s, as an early home for Friendship Baptist Church, the Rev. Martin Luther King spoke on the building's front steps during his fair housing campaign here."

Cinderellas on Old Striver's Row - Mr. Michael Henry Adams' Style & Taste

"Before there was ever a 'Striver's Row' there was 'The White House', an elegant neo-Classical mansion, on the estate of Archibald Watt, ar West 140th Street, in the center of today's Adam Clayton Powell, Jr. Boulevard. [...] Among the most handsome century-old houses left in the city when this photograph was made, the Watt-Pinkney mansion surely would have been preserved had it not stood near the center of Manhattan's burgeoning African American settlement in Harlem."

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.