Looking for Little Saigon

Posted on: May 28th, 2009 by Guest Writer 5 Comments

 

Written by Kim A. O’Connell

This circa-1929 building--with its distinctive swan's neck parapet--once housed Saigon Market, one of the first two Vietnamese stores to open in Little Saigon.

This circa-1929 building--with its distinctive swan's neck parapet--once housed Saigon Market, one of the first two Vietnamese stores to open in Little Saigon.

When I was a child, my mother, a Vietnamese immigrant, would often drive us from our home in suburban Maryland to the Clarendon neighborhood of Arlington, Va., to go shopping. There, in an enclave of markets, boutiques, and restaurants known informally as “Little Saigon,” she could speak in her native language to shopkeepers and fellow customers. We would gorge ourselves on spring rolls—called cha gio—and have sweet sesame balls filled with bean paste for dessert. To an American-born girl like me, the sights, smells, and sounds were fascinating. To my mother, it was like going home.

Today, hardly any trace of Virginia’s Little Saigon remains. Arlington County, as a close-in suburb of Washington, D.C., has become increasingly urbanized in the last three decades, especially along its busy transit corridors. Washington’s Metro subway system had played a direct role in the development of Little Saigon, but it eventually hastened its demise as well. Researching this history has become both a personal and a professional quest of mine.

When my graduate preservation program encouraged projects that promoted cultural diversity, I saw an opportunity to study Little Saigon and learn more about my own heritage at the same time. In addition to doing archival research, I interviewed several former refugees—people like Nguyen Ngoc Bich, who often served as a community representative in the 1970s, and Anhthu Lu, who arrived in Arlington as a teenager and helped her aunt run a gift shop in Clarendon. They and others revealed a common struggle to retain their traditions while assimilating into American life, a phenomenon that a Vietnamese priest once described as “catching two fish with two hands.” In their voices, I heard my mother’s voice too, and felt new empathy for her experience.

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Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Endangered Rural Virginia School Seeking New Life

Posted on: May 27th, 2009 by Guest Writer 3 Comments

 

Written by Sonja Ingram

The Konnarock School in Hillsville, VA.

The Konnarock School in Hillsville, VA.

Being the field representative for Preservation Virginia and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I receive many phone calls and emails asking for assistance on a variety of preservation topics. When I received an email about the Konnarock School in Smyth County, my initial thoughts were that it would be a typical request for grant information -- but I was wrong.

My first trip to Konnarock School in March of 2009 was an adventure itself. As I left Danville, I traveled across the eastern slopes of the Blue Ridge Mountains along the Crooked Road, Virginia’s Heritage Music Trail. Further up the Crooked Road travelers will find Bristol, Virginia, the birthplace of country music and Carter’s Fold, the home of the famous Carter family where bluegrass is still played every Saturday night.

But my trip did not take me that far west; instead I successfully navigated my way across Lover’s Leap near the town of Stuart, named after Confederate General J.E.B. Stuart, then through the scenic Meadows of Dan and onto the aptly named town of Hillsville.

Penny Herring points something out on a tour of the school.

Penny Herring describing the building on a tour.

When I arrived at Konnarock School, located at the foot of Whitetop Mountain and near Mount Rogers, the two highest peaks in Virginia, I was met by two fantastic folks, Penny “the Penster” and Monroe Herring; and one very friendly dog, Buddee. Once we started discussing the school, I began to fully realize the importance of the Konnarock School and what it has meant -- and still means -- to this community in western Virginia.

The Konnarock Training School was built in 1924 by the Lutheran Church as a boarding school for girls. For the next twenty-five years, the school educated many girls in this rural part of Virginia who would not have received the opportunity otherwise. The school also engaged in extensive health, educational, and religious outreach throughout the mountains of Southwest Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee. A companion school for boys, the Iron Mountain Lutheran School for Boys and Young Men, was built in the 1930s.

The Konnarock School was built of native hardwoods and is sided with the bark of the American Chestnut tree, a species that is nearly extinct after its decimation during the Chestnut blight in the 1930s-1940s.

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Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Teaching Preservation: School’s (Almost) Out for Summer

Posted on: May 27th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

My days here are numbered. Not like I'm counting...

My days here are numbered. Not like I'm counting...

Cue up “Pomp and Circumstance,” because the senior class of Washington High School will officially graduate on May 31, 2009.

Getting this close to the big day, I can’t help but wonder if I’m supposed to feel sad. I'm so excited to have reached this milestone, and I can tell that the feeling is mutual among my classmates.

But what’s next? Where is everyone headed? Believe me, the next chapter is on everyone’s mind these days, and with that being said, here are some updates:

As for me, I will be spending my summer doing volunteer work and prepping for college. I plan to attend the University of Charleston in West Virginia and study neuroscience psychiatry.

As for my classmates and fellow bloggers, they all have big plans for the future. Marci B. plans to attend Ohio University-Chillicothe and study nursing. Brittney T. will attend Southern State Community College and major in human and social sciences, while Bryan R. will venture to the University of Cincinnati to study aeronautical engineering (he has his sights set on working for NASA one day).

In a small town like ours, you end up having the same classmates your entire life. Not to get all mushy (cue that music!), but we’ve literally watched each other grow up. At a time like this, it’s funny to look at our personalities and quirks today, and then think back over the years. For example, in our recent senior favorites contest, Brittney T. walked away with best hair, Bryan R. swept biggest flirt, and I was crowned “Most Likely to Leave and Never Come Back.” Who knew?

Anyway, I think I speak for everyone when I say that Research History has been an especially amazing senior-year experience. We did so much more than highlight and memorize, and hey, we made a difference in the process. I know I learned more about history, and I hope we’ve inspired others with our words and photos. It’s something I feel really good about.

And, looking forward, I’m more prepared for the future since many colleges and universities are now placing greater emphasis on service learning (check!).

So, this is the point in my post when I flip my tassel to the other side, throw my hat in the air, and my make my exit for the last time. From prom to transcripts, I hoped you’ve liked what I've had to say. And, if you’re not ready for goodbye yet, stay tuned for a final post from our class this Friday.

Over and out.

- Sara S.

Sara S. is (for a few more days, at least) a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. This semester, She and her Research History classmates have worked on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving local cemeteries like Good Hope.

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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

 

Written by Jane Kurahara

The Honouliuli Camp, ca. 1944, as photographed by R.H. "Harry" Lodge, an employee of O'ahu Sugar at the time.

The Honouliuli Camp, ca. 1944, as photographed by R.H. "Harry" Lodge, an employee of O'ahu Sugar at the time.

Over ten years ago, while fielding what we thought was a routine request for information made to the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii’s resource center, our eyes were opened to the need to preserve a thinly documented period of Hawaii’s World War II history. A local TV station requested the exact location of the Honouliuli internment camp site. To our dismay, not only could we not determine the location, but in our efforts to answer the question we also encountered numerous people who said they did not know that people had been forcibly detained during World War II in Hawai‘i or that there were internment camps here!

This inquiry masked a deeper universal historical need for the general public to be informed that challenges to civil rights occur whenever there are threats to national security. Thus, from one relatively simple request for information from a constituent grew a research process which has informed a variety of outcomes. Sifting through existing data and reference materials led to tangible results.

Archeological reconnaissance  work over the past few years has exposed many foundations and other traces of structures at the Honouliuli site.

Archeological reconnaissance work over the past few years has exposed many foundations and other traces of structures at the Honouliuli site.

JCCH mounted an effort to collect, preserve and inventory surviving internee papers and arts and crafts. The fast-aging population of surviving internees is being interviewed to preserve their oral histories. An interpretive display and traveling exhibit, “Dark Clouds Over Paradise: The Hawai‘i Internees Story,” has been developed to share with the general public. A trilogy of internee accounts of their internment experiences is being prepared, using narrative, letters, and poetry. The first account has been published: a translation of Yasutaro Soga’s Life Behind Barbed Wire and the others are in development. In partnership with the Hawai‘i State Department of Education we are working to ensure that students study some facet of the history of internment during World War II in three required courses in grades 10 and 11. Because primary sources for teaching the story of World War II internment in Hawai‘i are difficult for teachers to find, folders of primary source material resources have been donated to every public high school.

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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.

Guest Writer

Although we're always on the lookout for blog content, we encourage readers to submit story ideas or let us know if you've seen something that might be interesting and engaging for a national audience. Email us at editorial@savingplaces.org.

Nashville's Station Inn Stays True to its Bluegrass Roots

Posted on: May 26th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Over the next few months, the staff of the National Preservation Conference will be blogging about their experiences during their pre-conference site visit trip to Nashville. The 2009 conference will take place October 13-19 in Nashville. Registration opens on June 1.

After many excursions to dive bars, dark music venues, and sultry art alleys throughout the nation, I think I found my favorite. It could have been the delicious barbecue I randomly came across while taking a half day tour of Nashville or the hilarious Doyle and Debbie show I caught, but I think the Station Inn in the Nashville Gulch took my heart. As if anything could have made my week-long trip to Nashville any better, this randomly placed, dark dive bar really took the cake. With a random assortment of furniture and one small "bar," if you could call it that, that sold bar food and small snacks, this place made you feel comfortable no matter what region or walk of life you came from.

(An aside: if you ever get the chance, go see Doyle and Debbie. They are hilarious, sing some songs that would make the most vulgar comedians blush and even, somehow, incorporate a hair piece into their act that bleeds down Doyle's face. Beware the front row.)

Anyway... this bar is great, and what makes it even better is the history behind it. Surrounding it are upscale, nouveau riche restaurants just recently built, modern sky-scraping townhouses, and even an Urban Outfitters across the street --  but it stays true to the history it has created. An old bluegrass music venue, it remains faithful to its purpose and provides simple entertainment without the glitz and glamour of the up-and-coming area it resides in. So if you get the chance, go visit this place, day or night. You won't regret it, trust me.

Adam Robinson is the program assistant for conferences and training in the Center for Preservation Leadership 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.