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The Manhattan Project: 20th Century History, 21st Century Significance

Posted on: July 19th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 7 Comments

 

Written by Amy Cole, Senior Field Officer and Attorney

The top-secret Manhattan Project has been called “the single-most significant event of the 20th century.” Begun as a small research project to develop an atomic weapon in advance of Germany, the Manhattan Project grew to include thousands of scientists working around the clock and in laboratories across the country.  The creation and use of the atomic bomb, developed by the Project’s scientists, brought an end to World War II, altering the position of the United States in the world community while setting the stage for the Cold War.

Specific laboratories central to achieving this mission were established at the Oak Ridge Reservation in Tennessee, the Los Alamos Laboratory in New Mexico, and the Hanford Site in Washington.

Construction at Oak Ridge began in 1943, and included the Y-12 Plant with nine uranium enrichment buildings and the hundreds of warehouses, cooling towers, office buildings, and laboratories required to support the work. Y-12’s calutrons -- the machinery which processed the uranium necessary to produce an atomic weapon -- are the only surviving production-level electromagnetic isotope separation facilities in the United States.

Oak Ridge’s K-25 Site illustrates the enormous scale and ambition of the Manhattan Project. At the time of its construction, K-25 was the largest building in the world located beneath a single roof. The enrichment of Uranium 235 took place within its cavernous 43-acre footprint.

Oak Ridge’s Graphite Reactor produced the world’s first significant amounts of plutonium and was the model for Hanford's B Reactor that was subsequently completed in 1944. This was the world’s first reactor to produce plutonium on a large scale.

Los Alamos' V-Site is the location where the world’s first plutonium bombs were assembled. Constructed in January 1944 as a high explosives handling and assembly facility, the V-Site was one of the Manhattan Project’s most closely guarded secrets, for it was here that all elements of the project were integrated.

This vast network, comprised of hastily constructed wood-frame, masonry, and poured concrete structures, was designed only for temporary use.  But at the close of World War II, many facilities were assigned new, long-term missions.

In the years following the end of the war, the laboratories became the scene of cutting-edge scientific research as additional applications for nuclear energy were developed, fostering advances in the then-emerging fields of chemotherapy, high-speed computer technology, genomics, and bioengineering. ... 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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Frank Lloyd Wright’s First Prairie House in Need of Assistance

Posted on: May 31st, 2012 by David Robert Weible

 

From a building preservation standpoint, the B. Harley Bradley House in Kankakee, Illinois, would seem to have it easy. The first of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie style houses, it was most recently purchased by the Wright In Kankakee organization in order to establish an arts and education center and house museum that would be open to the public. With a mortgage financed by the previous owners who had fully restored the house, preservation work isn’t what the organization is worried about. Their biggest job is fundraising to pay back the loan.

This July, Elisabeth Dunbar, executive director and curator of the house, and her team of 55 volunteers will launch a capital campaign to meet their goal of raising the $1.6 million needed in the next eight years to fully finance the house. "People perceive that there is no urgency because there is no immediate physical threat to the home," Dunbar told me, "but now we’re going to be threatened if we can’t pay off the debt."

One major challenge to the fundraising effort is location. Though Bradley House is just an hour from downtown Chicago, it’s south of I-80, a cultural dividing line between the city and the rest of the state, Dunbar says, which keeps it relatively off the radar of Wright fans from up north.

Another fundraising challenge is that Kankakee itself is still recovering from the recession. Though locals provide plenty of moral support, donations are difficult to come by. "If we don’t succeed, my greatest fear is that it will be turned back into a restaurant and the historic fabric of the house will be lost," says Dunbar, who notes that the house is in great physical shape, but there’s simply no market for a seven-bedroom house in Kankakee.

Though the house, now an integral part of the community, hosts classes, poetry readings, and even operas to help sustain it, its need is still great. You can help by donating on the organization’s homepage or by attending one of the many planned events at the house like the juried art show on July 21st and 22nd where entry fees and portions of all art sales go to the foundation.

Interested in reading more about Frank Lloyd Wright? Check out our Spring issue of Preservation magazine.

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.

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible

David Robert Weible is an assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He came to DC from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

Help Protect Colorado's Chimney Rock!

Posted on: May 16th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Chimney Rock Archaeological Area in southwestern Colorado contains the ruins of ceremonial and residential structures built 1,000 years ago by the Chacoan people. This site remains of great spiritual significance to modern Pueblo Indians, and is considered to be one of the most important cultural sites managed by the U.S. Forest Service -- yet has no protection or designation equal to its importance.

President Obama can use his authority under the Antiquities Act to establish Chimney Rock as a national monument to bring increased attention, stature and protection to this irreplaceable and sacred place, but he needs to hear from you first.

Last year, you helped urge the President to take action at historic Fort Monroe, the birthplace of the Civil War Freedom Movement. It’s because of your voices that he took action and created Fort Monroe National Monument. You can make a difference again -- stand with us to establish Chimney Rock National Monument in Colorado by signing this open letter today!

For more information on the site, see our Chimney Rock Fact Sheet (PDF).

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

40 New York City Historic Sites to Compete for $3 Million in Preservation Grants

Posted on: April 26th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Partners in Preservation, our annual community-based initiative with American Express, is coming to New York City -- and it’s bigger than ever! We tripled the grant money and almost doubled the amount of historic sites in order to celebrate the diverse urban fabric of the Big Apple. You can help decide which of the 40 pre-selected historic places will be awarded grants by heading to www.PartnersinPreservation.com and voting once a day until May 21. You can also vote on Facebook or your mobile device.

The New York City skyline. (Photo: The Nails on Flickr)
The New York City skyline. (Photo: The Nails on Flickr)

Through this partnership, American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation seek to increase the public’s awareness of the importance of historic preservation locally and to inspire long-term support of historic resources within their communities. Since 2006, $6.5 million has been awarded to nearly 100 preservation projects in San Francisco, Chicago, New Orleans, Boston, Seattle and Saint Paul/Minneapolis.

Check out which sites are competing, see photos, maps, and read about some of the historic sites you may not even know existed at www.PartnersinPreservation.com.

To keep up with the latest news, like Partners in Preservation on Facebook or follow @PartnersinPres  on Twitter.

Voting starts 11:01AM ET 4/26/12, ends 11:59PM ET 5/21/12. Must be at least 13 to vote. Limit one (1) vote per person/email address per calendar day. See Voting Terms, which govern, for complete details.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.

Senators Come Together to Support Preservation Legislation

Posted on: February 8th, 2012 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Erica Stewart

February 6, 2012 was a big day for fans of skilled jobs, green building and community revitalization through historic preservation. Yesterday, Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) announced that he, along with Senator Olympia Snowe (R-ME), would introduce new Senate legislation that would encourage historic rehabilitation in Main Street communities, promote energy-efficiency in rehabilitation projects, and make the credit more accessible to nonprofit organizations. This legislation was introduced in the House last summer, and achieving Senate introduction was the next big milestone for the National Trust and its allies.


Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) speaking at the historic Clifton Mansion in Baltimore. (Photos: Eli Pousson, Baltimore Heritage)

The new legislation, the Creating American Prosperity through Preservation (CAPP) Act, would make an already powerful federal historic credit even more so. Over 32 years, the credit has created 2 million jobs; saved 37,000 historic warehouses, factories, and schools; and attracted $90 billion to local economies.

Senator Cardin made his announcement at a press conference at historic Clifton Mansion, which now houses Civic Works, a nonprofit that helps young people prepare for the workforce. The mansion, located in a low-income section of northeast Baltimore, is a poster child for how historic preservation, green energy and community development can intersect - with the federal historic tax credit being the catalyst. Civic Works’ Executive Director Dana Stein talked passionately about how the historic tax credits will make possible the mansion’s $7 million makeover, which will seek LEED Gold certification (a great goal considering their current $17,000 energy bill).

More hard work lies ahead for the National Trust and its allies. Now that both bills have been introduced, our attention will turn toward getting members of Congress on board as co-sponsors. Despite its track record of job creation and community revitalization, the impact of the federal historic tax credit is not widely understood.

In the words of National Trust president Stephanie Meeks, the historic tax credit is simply too important to lose. We will be working hard to educate lawmakers about the power of the federal historic tax credit and the importance of the CAPP legislation. And we’ll need your help.

To join our effort, please take a minute to sign our pledge to help protect and enhance the historic tax credit. 

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Public Affairs department.

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.

National Trust for Historic Preservation

National Trust for Historic Preservation

The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded non-profit organization, works to save America's historic places.