Nashville: More than Just a Great Soundtrack

Posted on: July 28th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Virgil McDill

On the day the new issue of Preservation magazine—featuring a cover story about Nashville’s thriving arts, architecture and preservation successes—was arriving in mailboxes across the country, I traveled to the Music City with Editor-in-Chief James Schwartz. In conversations with local Nashville journalists, James described the editorial meeting at which the story was first discussed: “I wish you could have been in the room when the images and stories came in,” he remembered. “People were reviewing the photos and the text and saying, ‘we have to put this on the cover…People who only know of Nashville as a music center are going to be blown away by the architecture there, and the richness of its preservation stories.”

In a series of media interviews, James explained what the magazine staff was so excited about, and his list of preservation highlights started with the place he’d spent the previous night: the Union Station hotel. The city’s former central train depot, the building—an imposing, late-Victorian Romanesque Revival building just down Broadway Avenue from the city’s legendary honky-tonks— is now a swanky historic hotel, and one of the official conference hotels for this fall’s National Preservation Conference.

Gail Kerr, long-time columnist for the Nashville Tennessean, interviewed James along with two local conference chieftains—Ann Roberts, former head of the city’s Historical Commission, and Debby Dale Mason of the Chamber of Commerce. Kerr not only wrote a glowing column about the magazine and the upcoming conference, she also treated us to a tour of her nearby church—Downtown Presbyterian, one of central Nashville’s historic landmarks, as well as a stop on some field sessions during the conference and the location of the Friday night Special Lecture. A highlight of the tour? The church rents out several rooms in its tip-top floor to local artists who use them as studios for next to nothing ($25 a year!). An 1848 Egyptian Revival church that houses workspace for the creation of avant-garde art—that’s the kind of unexpected preservation story that seems to lurk just beneath a lot of surfaces in Nashville!

Spend even a little time in Nashville, and you are bound to hear locals tout the appellation “Athens of the South.” It’s a moniker they wear proudly, and it’s one that seems to have seeped into the architectural fabric of the city. From the Greek Revival state capitol building to the classical Frist Center for the Visual Arts—the former Broadway Post Office converted into a stunning arts center in 2001—to the city’s absolute must-see: a full-scale replica of the Parthenon located in a city park a couple miles from downtown.

Everyone knows this is a city with a great soundtrack; what you may not realize is how much more there is to Nashville than Waylon, Willie and Emmylou. After spending two days there, it’s clear that this is a city that needs to be seen, not just heard.

Virgil McDill is a communications manager at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Early-bird registration for the National Preservation Conference ends on July 31, 2009. Visit the conference website to register.

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.

Do You Know How to Visit Archaeological Sites With Respect?

Posted on: July 28th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Written by Dr. Rebecca Schwendler

Do your travel plans include exploring archaeological ruins in the West? If so, please watch this informative video.

Produced by the San Juan Mountains Association and the Bureau of Land Management Anasazi Heritage Center with a grant from the Colorado Historical Society, the video features five Native Americans of different generations and affiliations (the pueblos of Santa Clara and Acoma in New Mexico and the Hopi Tribe in Arizona) talking about their connections to prehistoric ruins and ways that we can visit them appropriately.

As a professional archaeologist and the public lands advocate for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, I want to spread the word that we all have a part in preserving our country’s amazing archaeological, historical, and cultural places – whether they were created by our ancestors or someone else’s. While I find that most visitors are thoughtful and responsible, even well-meaning people can cause damage if they don’t know how to visit with respect.

So, how does one visit with respect? Here are some tips:

1 – Notice where artifacts and rock art are located in relation to one another and the surrounding landscape. Look for spatial patterns in materials, object types, and colors, but leave the artifacts in place and the rock art untouched. Artifacts and art are like pieces of a puzzle; if you move, remove, or damage them, you create a false and incomplete picture of the past and disrespect the people who made them.

2 – Observe structures from different angles and appreciate their materials and forms, but never climb on walls or into structures or pits unless a sign invites you to do so. Even if you don’t appear to be harming the structures, the cumulative effect of many people doing the same thing will. You don’t want to be that person who helps destroy things so that others can’t enjoy them, do you?

3 – Stick to designated trails to get the best views without damaging natural and cultural resources. Pretend you’re visiting your grandmother’s house - steer clear of those flower beds and don’t throw rocks in her pool!

At the end of the day, visiting archaeological sites (and any historic place for that matter) with respect means imagining the people who created the place, going slow, being observant, appreciating the location, and leaving things exactly as you find them. Always treat these special places as you would want others to treat your belongings and favorite hang outs.

We all need to run wild sometimes, just not in our precious and often fragile archaeological sites.

Rebecca Schwendler, Ph.D., is the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s public lands advocate. She is stationed in the Mountains/Plains Regional Office.

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.

Orange County Cancels “Wilderness Wal-Mart” Public Hearing to Fix Procedural Irregularity

Posted on: July 27th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

Written by Rob Nieweg

The National Trust for Historic Preservation has learned that the Orange County (VA) Board of Supervisors has abruptly canceled tonight's public hearing regarding the infamous “Wilderness Wal-Mart.” Wal-Mart has applied for a special use permit to construct 240,000 square feet of big box development on Wilderness Battlefield and adjacent to the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park.

A press release this afternoon from Julie Jordan, Orange County’s acting County Administrator, indicates that the County failed to properly advertise the mandatory public notice of the local Planning Commission’s May 21, 2009 public hearing about Wal-Mart’s proposed development.  Apparently the County had no choice but to go back to square one and re-advertise and re-convene both the required public hearings, before the local Planning Commission and the Board of Supervisors.

Members and friends of the National Trust are encouraged to email and ask Wal-Mart to relocate its planned development to an alternative site in Orange County but away from the battlefield and National Park.

Rob Nieweg is the Director of the Southern Field Office of 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.

Window Restoration Program Should Be "Here to Stay"

Posted on: July 27th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

Last week, one of our partners in Michigan wrote a post about a first-of-its-kind course on the rehabilitation of historic windows offered by the Michigan Historic Preservation Network in partnership with the City of Kalamazoo. Today, one of the partners involved in the program shares her perspective.

Written by Pamela Hall O’Connor

IMG_8331As a preservation advocate, immediate Past President of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, and a private preservation consultant with well over a decade of experience, I've seen lots of programs come and go. This one should be here to stay.

America is beautiful -- in so many ways. Before it was subjected to decades of landlord neglect, I'm quite sure that the home selected for the Kalamazoo training site for this program was a beautiful place. But for me, the most beautiful part of this process was seeing these people work together to learn a skill that is much-needed -- and almost lost.

These trainees represent a minuscule portion of incredibly smart and talented segment of the U.S. population -- people with a drive to learn, to enrich their own lives and the life of their communities -- and to perhaps own and operate their own businesses. Now, they also understand, as many of us have for a long time -- the necessary and essential relationships of craft, materials, job training, income, economic development, and particularly, of sustainability's role in all of these.

IMG_8322In this "down" market, where some people are out of work, and others are making wise decisions to repair rather than replace -- we all, these trainees and the public, have an unprecedented opportunity. Students learn a craft for which there will always be a need -- and one that not only meets the current requirements of consumers, but supports a grossly under-served market -- old building owners and developers.

The resultant Michigan trainees' income stays mostly in their own communities, helps to save America's historic building infrastructure, saves energy, helps give the buildings and the communities they're in a boost in terms of "authentic" place-development and value-building. Plus -- it keeps a gross amount of waste out of our landfills.

There is no downside -- and this is an elegant solution for keeping America beautiful.

Pamela Hall O’Connor is the Immediate Past President of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Principal, Preservation Practices.

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.

 

Today's Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star has a front page story and an an editorial about the ongoing battle with Wal-Mart over its planned superstore that threatens the Wilderness Battlefield. They take very different tacks, one pointing out the good work that Wal-Mart has done in the past when challenged to find a more sensitive location, and the other imploring the Orange County Board of Supervisors to do the right thing to honor the soldiers who fought and died on the land.

Which Wal-Mart lesson applies to Orange?

In certain instances, Wal-Mart collaborated with preservationists, [Paul Bruhn, executive director of the Preservation Trust of Vermont] said. The Vermont trust took Wal-Mart officials on a tour of the state to show them what it thought were suitable, compromise locations.

That's how the Rutland site was chosen--with the governor's backing. "That's proven to be a good store for Wal-Mart," Bruhn said.

Orange, arise:

The Union and Confederate armies suffered around 29,000 casualties in the Wilderness--by coincidence, almost exactly the population of today's Orange County. If each American who died, bled, or disappeared in the Wilderness maelstrom audibly called out from the consecrated earth for remembrance, he would find an Orange resident, all his own, to hear his message

...

From Gordonsville and Locust Grove, from the town of Orange to Barboursville, let every county beneficiary of heroes' striving turn out to oppose this location for a shopatropolis. Let county members of the NAACP join with Sons of Confederate Veterans, small businesspersons with school teachers, yellow-dog Democrats with run-mad Republicans, natives with transplants to say, "Somewhere else." Let them leave no doubt, however their representatives vote, what an aroused Orange County thinks about this ill-conceived plan.

The Free Lance-Star is only one voice in a growing chorus asking Wal-Mart to do the right thing -- and you can make your voice heard, too.  Email Wal-Mart President and CEO Michael T. Duke and ask him to use an alternate location for their proposed Supercenter that would not threaten our nation's heritage.

Sarah Heffern is the content manager for PreservationNation.org.

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.