Out & Proud in 'Big City' Roanoke

Posted on: June 5th, 2009 by Guest Writer 3 Comments



By Karen Gray

I have lived in – or on the outskirts of – Roanoke, Virginia for most of my life.

When I was young and our house was over 15 minutes away from the nearest grocery store, a trip to Roanoke was known as “going into town.” I always thought of it as the “big city” back then. Today, I appreciate its mix of small town charm and “big city” opportunity.
The Roanoke Star

The Roanoke Star

Nestled in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Roanoke is known as the “Star City of the South” (we are the proud home of the largest man-made lit star in the country, which shines above the city from Mill Mountain). 100,000 people big, we have a beautiful downtown neighborhood full of fabulous restaurants and shops, the Farmers Market and Roanoke Wiener Stand, and an impressive collection of museums.

While there is no longer a specific gay neighborhood (the yuppies moved into Old Southwest in the 1980’s), there is a “Gay Kroger” (a local grocery store), as well as a number of restaurants that are known to be accepting of LGBT clientele. We have a very active Metropolitan Community Church, as well as a Pride organization, Roanoke Pride, Inc., that sponsors events and activities throughout the year for the community. Our annual Pride event, Pride in the Park, continues to get bigger and better. In 2008, it pulled in a record attendance of 3,000.

Metropolitan Community Church

Metropolitan Community Church

We also have two lively bars in town, one of which has been open for over 30 years. The other, however, has a much different story – one that you probably heard about on the national news on September 22, 2000. That day, Ronald Gay walked into Backstreet, ordered a beer, sat for a minute, and then stood up and opened fire. His rampage injured six and killed one.

It has been said – both locally and by the massive media contingent that covered the tragedy – that this event blew Roanoke’s LGBT community clear out of the closet. While I personally don’t believe that it changed the way LGBT people lived their daily lives here, I do believe it made the rest of the city and state more aware that we are, in fact, here. The negativity hurled at our local paper for its coverage of the event was proof of that.

As Roanoke continues to grow, I believe more and more LGBT folks will find it to be an open and accepting place where people of all walks of life can be at home.

Karen Gray serves on the committee that is currently planning Roanoke's 20th anniversary Pride festival. She has lived in or around Roanoke for most of her life.


Join the National Trust for Historic Preservation as we celebrate Pride + Preservation throughout the month of June. Want to help us show some pride in place? Upload a This Place Matters photo of a building, site or neighborhood that matters to you and your local LGBT community.

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.

Tiger Stadium Protesters Seek “More Vision and Less Demolition”

Posted on: June 4th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 3 Comments


Written by Royce Yeater

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Save Tiger Stadium! (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Refrains of “Take me out to the Ball Game” interspersed with chants of “Save Tiger Stadium” rose in the late night air at the corner of Trumbull and Michigan in Detroit last night. About 100 protesters gathered before midnight outside what remains of the famous but long-abandoned historic baseball park. They carried neon-colored handmade posters with the “Save Tiger Stadium” message, along with signs reading “More Vision and Less Demolition” and “This Place Matters.”

The protest was in response to the appearance on the site earlier in the day of demolition equipment poised to do its work. It was apparently ordered into that position by the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (DEGC) after they determined that the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy had failed to meet a $15 million dollar target for fundraising toward their plan to preserve the field itself and the most historic portion of the Stadium (once known as Navin Field) as a venue for youth baseball surrounded by office space.

For nearly 20 years, Tiger Stadium has been the focus of  local and nationwide efforts to preserve it as an icon of baseball, after rumors of intentions to build a new stadium surfaced. We listed Tiger Stadium on our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 1991. After the Tigers relocated to Comerica Park in 1999, the city agreed to continue to maintain the stadium until an appropriate adaptive use of the stadium, or a viable new use for the site, could be identified.

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

The remaining portion of Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

Neither of those things happened, in spite of extensive efforts by preservationists to find an adaptive use, and by the city’s economic development staff to find another productive use of the site. In 2008, with funds for maintenance ever-tightening and the Corktown Neighborhood in which the stadium sits asking for some resolution, a compromise was established in a Memorandum of Agreement between the Detroit Economic Growth Corporation (a quasi-governmental economic development agency) and the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy (a non-profit advocacy and development group organized to save and reuse the stadium). The agreement accepted demolition of the less historic parts of the stadium seating and that work ensued in July, 2008, demolishing all but the infield corner of the stadium seating. The MOA documented an agreement to preserve that element as retail, hospitality, office and community space, and preserve the playing field itself and the lower deck seating as a venue for youth baseball, all at a cost estimated to be about $27M.

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

The Conservancy has made great progress, even in these economic times. They have secured significant dollars in private contributions from foundations and individuals and, with the help of Senator Carl Levin, had been granted $3.8M in federal funding to advance the plan. They have confirmed through the State Historic Preservation Office the eligibility of the remaining stadium elements for as much as $18M in state and federal historic tax credits. While they had indeed failed to meet a specific fundraising target by March 1, they were meeting fundraising goals to cover the cost of continued maintenance and security and they felt they were demonstrating sufficient progress to sustain their efforts.

When the DEGC suddenly moved into position to demolish the remaining and most historic parts of the stadium, the Conservancy was shocked -- and issued a statement saying so, stressing the economic benefits of their plan to a city struggling in the face of the current recession and the melt down of the automotive industry.

June 3, 2009 protest at Tiger Stadium. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

More vision, Less demolition. (Photo by Marvin Shaouni)

In contrast, the DEGC and the city have no alternative plan for the site with any real viability, and certainly no developer or use that is at all shovel-ready. So why the sudden rush to spend significant money to tear it all down? Complete demolition at this time will result only in another empty parcel in a city filled with vacant land awaiting new construction.

We believe the city should extend deadlines for the Old Tiger Stadium Conservancy and encourage continued progress toward a significant redevelopment of an iconic historic resource that will cost the taxpayers of Detroit little and provide a much needed shot in the arm the cash-strapped city desperately needs in these trying times.

But the city is currently saying no to that logic and demolition could begin next week. The DEGC has indicated only that demolition will begin within the next two weeks. Ironically, demolition is being held up by a film crew shooting a feature length movie in which the stadium will stand in for Cleveland’s Municipal Stadium, itself demolished in 1995.

Please check back tomorrow (Friday, June 5, 2009) to learn how to make your voice heard in the fight to save Tiger Stadium.

Learn More:

Royce A. Yeater, AIA, is the director of the Midwest 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.


By a vote of 94 to 2, the Louisiana House on Wednesday passed House Bill 780, which would require LSU to have the financing plan for its proposed new hospital approved by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget before it could purchase or seize property on the proposed Lower Mid-City site.

We spent two days in Baton Rouge again talking to lawmakers. On Tuesday, we managed to speak to about one-fifth of the 105-member body, and our tallies showed a decided lean toward passing what essentially is a simple bill calling for good fiscal practices.

With the exception of Representative Juan Lafonta, the New Orleans legislators didn’t seem strongly inclined to pass the bill when we spoke to them—remaining non-committal, vague in their support, or somewhat hostile to it. Nevertheless, seven of the eleven New Orleans legislators voted for the bill, with three absent, and one voting no. The no vote from New Orleans was from Rep. Karen Carter Peterson, Speaker Pro Tem of the House, who presided over the vote. The Charity Hospital building is in her district.

Rep. Lafonta rose to speak to his colleagues before the vote, saying without this bill there were no checks and balances on LSU. He talked about the possible demolition of a neighborhood and referred to the billboard on the interstate approach to Baton Rouge which states “Want to save $283 million? Reopen Charity Hospital.” The billboard is the work of theFoundation for Historical Louisiana (FHL).

This was another great effort in the beautiful halls of the Art Deco State Capital which included myself; Sandra Stokes of FHL; Mickey Weiser, owner of Weiser Security located in Lower Mid-City on the proposed LSU site; Brad Ott of the Committee to Re-Open Charity Hospital; Michelle Kimball of the Preservation Resource Center; Jack Davis, NTHP trustee; and Jonah Evans of SaveCharityHospital.com.

We appreciate everyone’s support of this latest effort, another chapter in the unfolding drama that could decide the fate of an ill-conceived plan for medical facilities in New Orleans.

The bill moves to the Senate next week, where it first needs to pass out of committee.

Learn 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.

Downtown Franklin, Tennessee – A Distinctive Destination

Posted on: June 3rd, 2009 by Farin Salahuddin 2 Comments


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. Register now for the 2009 conference, which  will take place October 13-19.

Carnton Plantation

Carnton Plantation

Franklin's lazy, southern charm is the perfect compliment to Nashville's sparkle and energy.  But Franklin wasn't always a glowing model of small city life.  It once was the site of a bloody civil war battle that is said to have been the beginning of the end for the Confederacy. Come and see how Franklin's bloody past and prosperous present are mingled in the streetscape, shops and boutiques.

Top 5 reasons to visit Franklin, Tennessee

1.       Included in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's list of 2009's Distinctive Destinations.

2.       Winner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's first ever Great American Main Street Award in 1995.

3.       Carter House, a National Registered Landmark and a significant reminder of the Battle of Franklin.

Dessert (well, actually, desserts) at Pucketts.

Dessert (well, actually, desserts) at Pucketts.

4.       Historic Carnton Plantation, home of the New York Times bestseller, Widow of the South, by Robert Hicks (Hicks will be our Friday Night Special Lecture speaker).

5.       Delicious Southern cooking!  Enjoy the sweet and savory delights of Puckett's Grocery and a number of other tasty vittles along Main Street.

Franklin is a sparkling example of many preservation efforts including land conservation, battlefield reclamation and the revitalization and maintenance of a vibrant main street.  Register for this field session and see what all the fuss is about!

(This field session is offered on Wednesday, Oct 14 and Friday, Oct 16)

Farin Salahuddin is a conference coordinator of the National Preservation Conference.  Farin's interests include photographing her food at restaurants.

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.

Painting for Preservation

Posted on: June 2nd, 2009 by Sarah Heffern 3 Comments



I have some time off at the end of the month, so before I fly off on a long weekend for Independence Day, I've decided to paint my kitchen. It's needed it for a long time - since I moved into the apartment, really - but got burned out on painting in the beginning. When you move into an apartment where the entryway and living room are the color of dried French's mustard, clearly all the energy goes into painting that, rather than sprucing up the boring white kitchen.

But the time has come; three years of cooking, combined with a couple of less-than-neat attempts (ultimately successful) to hang Ikea wall racks have left the walls looking less than lovely. Now that the procrastination part of the project is nearly done, it's time to tackle the big question: what color to use? Given that my place isn't huge, whatever I choose for the kitchen has to coordinate nicely with the rest of the apartment.

It turns out, though, that figuring this out is not going to be quite as difficult as I expected. Back when I painted the living room and bedroom, I decided to be a good National Trust for Historic Preservation staffer and buy Valspar paint, which has a line of paint colors based on our historic sites and hotels. (A portion of the proceeds of the paint helps to support our work, too, which made it a particularly appealing choice for me.) Now, Valspar has introduced a tool that allows me to virtually paint a room on their website.

Warning: this can be a little addictive.

I've tried my Lyndhurst Timber entryway wall, which abuts the kitchen, with a bunch of different colors. I really want Oatlands Daisy to work, since sunshiney yellow just says "kitchen" to me, but I don't know... What do you think?

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.