Trust News

Preservation Fund Grants Aid Endangered Sites

Posted on: May 19th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Vizcaya’s Central Pool and South Façade, 2005.  Image of the central pool in Vizcaya’s center garden, with the south façade of the main house in the background. (Photograph by Bill Sumner)

Vizcaya’s Central Pool and South Façade, 2005. Image of the central pool in Vizcaya’s center garden, with the south façade of the main house in the background. (Photograph by Bill Sumner)

Two sites with a connection to our 11 Most Endangered List have been selected to receive grants from the Johanna Favrot Fund for Historic Preservation. This program, one of our Preservation Funds, provides nonprofit organizations and public agencies grants for projects that contribute to the preservation or the recapture of an authentic sense of place.

The Atomic Heritage Foundation – like one of our 2009 11 Most Endangered sites, the Manhattan Project's Enola Gay Hangar – has been listed by the Department of Energy as a Manhattan Project Signature Facility. The foundation received its grant to conduct a workshop focused on preserving and interpreting the Oak Ridge K-25 Gaseous Diffusion Plant in Oak Ridge, Tennessee. Built in 1943, the K-25 Plant was a major supplier of highly enriched uranium used to fuel the United States' Cold War nuclear defense systems. The planned workshop will focus on how to best preserve and tell the story of the plant and its workers as well as further the discussion on how to present the ethical, historical, technical, and political aspects of the Manhattan project.

Vizcaya Museum and Gardens in Miami, listed in 2008, received its grant to produce a cultural landscape report that will guide the preservation stewardship, rehabilitation and management of Vizcaya's gardens. Vizcaya was built between 1914 and 1917 by Chicagoan James Deering to serve as his winter residence. The historic gardens were oriented away from downtown Miami to afford guests a serene escape from the growing city.

These sites are but two of the 28 selected to receive either Favrot funds, or grants from the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Fund for Historic Interiors. Grants from the two funds, ranging from $2,500 to $10,000, are awarded annually and must be matched dollar for dollar by public or private funds.

Learn more about:

This year’s Favrot/Mitchell Fund recipients
Preservation Fund annual report
the 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list

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 social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. 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.

Washington Post Sees the Larger Purpose of our 11 Most List

Posted on: May 18th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Caroline Barker

Every year we get a lot of coverage from our announcement of America's 11 Most Endangered Places. You might have read about it in an earlier blog post or on our Preservation in the News roundup. It is not often, however, that we get the kind of coverage that shows such a deep understanding of the larger purpose of the list, which, in addition to galvanizing support for specific landmarks across the nation, raises awareness about the array of issues that the preservation movement is working hard to address on an on-going basis. Philip Kennicott's article in Sunday 's Washington Post does just that, all the while relating the issues presented by this year's list to local DC sites that have been in the news recently. In case you missed it, you can check it out here.

Caroline Barker is a communications coordinator at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

 

This past week we submitted comments on behalf of the National Trust for Historic Preservation on the four latest design schemes for the proposed VA medical center in New Orleans. If plans do not change, this medical center is to be built on 30 acres of land (10 square blocks) cleared of 123 historic houses, within the Mid-City National Register District. Next to this hospital, Louisiana State University plans to build its new academic medical center after clearing even more land -- another 39 acres.

We have repeatedly asked early in the historic preservation and environmental review processes why either institution needed so much land. We were told by the VA that the size of its site was mandated by federal setback requirements after the bombing in Oklahoma City and the 9/11 attacks. In the case of the VA designs, we learned this week that it is possible to "harden" a structure as another means of meeting the setback requirement, raising yet another question about why so much unnecessary land is being taken and so many extra homes needlessly bulldozed.

Learn More

The four proposed designs (PDFs)

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.

Senior Citizens in Scrabble, VA Are Going Back To School

Posted on: May 6th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Crista Gibbons

Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, sings the Star Spangled Banner.

Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, sings the Star Spangled Banner.

Last Saturday, rather than tend to my normal “mommy” weekend duties, I left the kids with my husband and went to work. But it was no typical day at work -- it turned out to be one of the most beautiful and moving memories I have of my nine years at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

I drove two hours to Rappahannock County in rural Virginia to attend the re-dedication ceremony of the Scrabble School. It is a former Rosenwald School that has been restored and reopened as a senior center thanks to a dedicated group of volunteers and support from private and public organizations such as Lowe’s and the National Trust.

The celebration opened with a prayer, followed by the Color Guard (local Boy Scout troop 36) unfurling the flag for Nanette Butler Roberts, a Scrabble alumna, to sing the Star Spangled Banner. Nanette sang with such emotion that the entire crowd joined in. It was a beautiful moment that moved many of use to tears.

The Scrabble School, before its renovation.

The Scrabble School, before its renovation.

The Scrabble School is a wonderful preservation success story. Just a few years ago, area residents facetiously nicknamed it the “Scrabble Mall,” a reference to the dumpster divers drawn to the school each Saturday when the County dumped new loads of rubbish in the two dumpsters in front of the school. In addition to the trash in the front, the building itself was in disrepair and being overtaken by brush.

Today, the building is fully restored and open for business as the new Rappahannock Senior Center. And bringing this story full-circle is the fact that many of the seniors that will use the center and benefit from it today are among the alumni of the Scrabble School. The building stands strong and offers a beacon of hope to so many other Rosenwald Schools that are endangered across the South. So many, are in fact at risk of being lost forever that the National Trust for Historic Preservation named Rosenwald Schools to their “11 Most Endangered” list in 2002.

Scrabble school alumni say "This Place Matters!"

Scrabble school alumni say "This Place Matters!"

After the ceremony, I was able to sit down and interview many of the alumni. As they spoke fondly of their years as students in the small, two room schoolhouse, I listened to countless memories that flooded through their minds. They talked about their walks to school, vocabulary lessons, spelling bees, theatrical plays, feeding the stoves, crushes on boys, and so much more. Almost all of them mentioned “Soup Day,” a special day once a week when a mother brought in warm soup for all of the children. The rest of the time  they packed cold lunches and sandwiches, as there was no stove for warm meals.

Lowe's employee Judi Vigay and her aunt, Scrabble School alumna Laurie Noakes Jackson.

Lowe's employee Judi Vigay and her aunt, Scrabble School alumna Laurie Noakes Jackson.

Judi Vigay had both a professional and personal connection to the school, representing not only the local Lowe’s store, but also sharing the moment with her aunt, Laurie Noakes Jackson, a 1924 alumna of the Scrabble School.

The day was full of these poignant examples of the personal impact of preservation. In the coming weeks, excerpts from my conversations with the alums will be posted on PreservationNation, and I encourage you to tune in.

Learn more about:

Click here to read The Rappahannock Voice story about the event.

Crista Gibbons is the assistant director of the Business Development office at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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.

A Letter to the Governor Of West Virginia Regarding Blair Mountain

Posted on: May 5th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Following news that the State of West Virginia requested that Blair Mountain be removed from the National Register of Historic Places, several committed volunteers helped the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Preservation Alliance of West Virginia gather signatures for a scholars’ letter, urging an alternative to surface mining on the site. More than 80 writers, historians, archaeologists and other experts signed on, including Pulitzer Prize-winning author James McPherson and noted historian Henry Louis Gates.

The letter was delivered to Governor Manchin’s office last week:

Dear Governor Manchin:

As historians, archaeologists, and other scholars, we urge you in the strongest possible terms to investigate all avenues for preserving and interpreting the nationally significant Blair Mountain Battlefield, which was recently listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Blair Mountain is the site of the largest civil insurrection in American history since the Civil War. The struggle that took place on the mountain pitted approximately 10,000 coal miners against an army of 5,000 who were opposed to their unionization attempts. More than one million rounds of ammunition were fired in the confrontation during the late summer of 1921.

Although the miners were defeated there, the American labor movement began slowly to gather momentum. The egregious conditions in the nation’s coal fields that were exposed by the miners’ actions drew public attention to the working conditions confronting laborers in every sector of the nation’s industry. The fight to unionize was synonymous with the fight to bring dignity, democracy, and safety to American work places.

The Blair Mountain Battlefield is a unique historic and cultural treasure that deserves recognition and protection. Archaeological research performed in preparing the National Register nomination indicates that the battlefield has tremendous integrity, as it presents a rich and well-preserved record of the details of the conflict. This preliminary research has revealed interesting and provocative information about force movements, weaponry, and strategies used by both sides in the battle. These findings are especially critical, given fallible and sometimes contradictory narratives of the battle. No doubt much remains to be discovered, and scholars must be able to continue to study this important chapter in American history.

We are concerned that the recent attempt to delist Blair Mountain from the National Register may be a first step toward strip-mining the mountain for coal production, which will destroy the historic site. The National Park Service found that the battlefield is both significant and intact, and we believe it must be preserved for future generations. If mining is necessary, we strongly encourage the state and federal agencies with oversight over mining to work with the property owners to find a solution that will allow mining on Blair Mountain without destroying the historic site.

There’s still time to sign the National Trust’s general petition! Click here to take action!

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.