Announcing America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places, 2009 Edition

Posted on: April 28th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

There are certain things that pretty much everyone who works here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation has on their calendar: the National Preservation Conference, Preservation Month, and, of course, today’s biggie, the announcement of our annual list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Diane Keaton, an Academy Award-winning actress and one of our trustees, will be presenting the list in Los Angeles in a few hours, so it feels almost like we’re giving a sneak-peek here on the East Coast.

Their official designation of 2009’s sites will be made adjacent to Los Angeles’ Century Plaza Hotel, which is included on this year’s list. Slated to be razed to accommodate two 600-foot-tall “environmentally sensitive” towers, the threat to the Century Plaza highlights sustainability -- the idea that we need to recycle existing infrastructure, rather than throw it away. The hotel, designed by Minoru Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center’s twin towers), also exemplifies the threat to modernist architecture nationally.

The full list of sites, with a tidbit of information on each, is below (after the jump, if you’re coming from the blog’s home page or an RSS reader). I encourage you to skip that, though, and instead head right over to the 11 Most Endangered section of PreservationNation.org. It’s where we’re keeping the good stuff: pictures, video and action items. Take a moment to check it out.

Oh, and if you happen to be a fan of Twitter, today's a great day to start following us. We're @PresNation and we're going to be tweeting about the 11 Most all day. Look for the #11Most tag to find out the latest.

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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.

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.

Volunteers Help at Gettysburg's Spangler Farm

Posted on: April 27th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Bobbie Greene McCarthy

Bobbie Greene McCarthy, director of Save America's Treasures at the National Trust and Debbie Maier of MailPound in New Jersey, pose in front of the summer kitchen they helped rehab as part of the Tourism Cares for America weekend at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Bobbie Greene McCarthy, director of Save America's Treasures at the National Trust and Debbie Maier of MailPound in New Jersey, pose in front of the summer kitchen they helped rehab as part of the Tourism Cares for America weekend at Gettysburg National Military Park.

Last week, my colleague, Fiona Lawless, and I joined more than 300 volunteers at Gettysburg National Military Park for the seventh annual "Tourism Cares for America" weekend. Begun in 2001 as the tourism industry reeled in the wake of 9/11, this education/philanthropic association of the country's large tourism organizations has logged countless people hours in an effort to preserve and protect some of our country's most treasured historic sites, including Ellis Island, Mount Vernon, New Orleans (twice!), the Mississippi Gulf Coast after Katrina, and Virginia City, Nevada. The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Save America's Treasures program has had a long and productive partnership with Tourism Cares and the tourism industry, and we count ourselves among their faithful volunteers.

Participants flocked to Gettysburg from across the US and some even as far as British Columbia to help the National Park Service and the Gettysburg Foundation clear and clean the 80-acre Spangler Farm recently purchased from the family that owned it for many generations. Once restored, it will be used for the Park's educational programs and outreach activities. The farm was the logistical center of the Union battle line and served as a field hospital for more than 1,700 wounded and dying soldiers during three horrific days in July 1863 that made Gettysburg world-famous and changed the course of the Civil War. It is best known as the place where Confederate General Lewis Armistead died after he was wounded in Pickett's Charge on the third day of the battle.

(If the name sounds familiar to you, it's because the Armistead family name is woven through American history. Of special note, Lewis' uncle, Lieutenant Colonel Major George Armistead, commanded Fort McHenry in the War of 1812, defending Baltimore against the British during the attack that inspired Francis Scott Key to pen the words to the Star Spangled Banner. In fact, George Armistead was given the Star Spangled Banner after the battle and it remained in his family for generations.)

Most of the Tourism Cares volunteers cleared countless tons of heavy brush and debris from the land but others cleaned the barn and farmhouse. I focused my efforts largely on hauling, shoveling and, finally, sweeping the summer kitchen, where a bronze plaque says it is the actual place where General Armistead died. For a group of desk-jockeys and tour guides with a sense of history but unaccustomed to hard physical labor, it was an exhausting but exhilarating experience. Tourism Cares did -- as it always does -- a magnificent job of organizing this complex event with its countless moving parts and made sure that the labor was preceded and followed by interesting and enjoyable activities -- including LOTS of food and plenty to drink.

The group was treated to a lively tour of the battlefield, and a special viewing of the newly-restored Cyclorama painting (conserved thanks in part to a $200,000 challenge grant from Save America's Treasures). There also was a special screening of a new video produced by the History Channel about the Battle at Gettysburg. In a final generous gesture, Tourism Cares and Trip Mate Insurance announced a surprise $10,000 grant to the Gettysburg Foundation for further rehabilitation of Spangler Farm.

If you'd like to know more and see pictures from the weekend, visit the Tourism Cares website, and more on Gettysburg National Military Park can be found on their website.

Bobbie Greene McCarthy is the director of the Save America's Treasures program 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.

Preservation Roundup: Retrofitting NYC, Silo Living, Villa Finale

Posted on: April 27th, 2009 by Matt Ringelstetter

 

Greening the NYC Skyline: "From solar panels to LED Christmas lights, Rockefeller Center is at the forefront of making old buildings new through sustainable technology." On Earth Day, Mayor Bloomberg announced plans for measures such as retrofitting older buildings in order to reduce NYC's carbon footprint by 30 percent over the next twenty years. [Architects Newspaper]

More from Earth Day NYC: Mindful Walker compares Earth Day 1970 to 2009. [Mindful Walker]

Villa Finale, A National Trust Historic Site: Villa Finale, one of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's newest historic sites is blogging. [VillaFinale]

Paddington Reservoir Adaptive Reuse: A mid-nineteenth century Sydney reservoir converted into an urban park. "The park sits within the ruins of the western chamber and uses the intact interior of the eastern basin as a large column-filled multipurpose space. Where possible, the ironbark columns and cast iron beams have been kept and maintained with new concrete and steel arches, beams and columns inserted within where necessary. Vaulted aluminium sun shading sits perched above the park, signalling the submerged park to Oxford Street above and providing some contrast to the otherwise robust detailing." [Super Colossal]

1940's Grain Silo Converted to Boutique Texas Inn: 'Cause really, what else would it be converted into? "In 2007, Gruene Homestead Inn purchased the 1940s grain silo and remodeled the interior and exterior.  The result is authentic and incredible.  Can you imagine chilling on that front porch, enjoying a little Texas summer?" [Jetson Green]

Infrastructure Disaster: Myth or Reality?: Is our nation's infrastructure really as "deficient and functionally obsolete" as it has been made out to be? Before you go tearing down that historic bridge, consider the differences between "strcutural deficiencies" and "functional obsolescence." [Slate]

Redbud Midcentury: Some very cool photos of a mid-century home in Tulsa that is for sale. From our friends at ModernTulsa. [ModernTulsa]

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.

Energy Candy, Electrolyte Water, and… Historic Preservation?

Posted on: April 24th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Written by Alissa Anderson

Northeast Office member, and official PiP cheerleader, Kate Pierce-McManamon manning the PiP booth.

Northeast Office staffer, and official PiP cheerleader, Kate Pierce-McManamon manning the PiP booth.

“Why, what’s that?” visitors to last weekend’s 2009 John Hancock Sports and Fitness Expo asked themselves as they gazed toward the tall blue banners on the horizon, rounding the bend past Adidas and the VitaminShoppe. “Is it the new All-Natural Energy Candy I’ve been waiting for? Or perhaps a paraben-free backpack full of high-octane-electrolyte water that could keep astronauts hydrated for three weeks were they to land on Mars??”

Fortunately for these sharp-eyed visitors, the blue-bannered booth that awaited them was peddling something far more exciting: the chance to give away one million dollars in preservation funding! Yes, once again the Greater Boston Partners in Preservation (PiP) program was out among the public, spreading the word about the importance of preservation–this time in Boston’s Hynes Convention Center from April 17-19.

Sports Expo visitor casts her vote at www.PartnersinPreservation.com.

Sports Expo visitor casts her vote at www.PartnersinPreservation.com.

For a total of 23 hours during the Sports Expo’s three-day period, nine volunteers (three Northeast Office staff members and six intrepid others—including two who came from as far away as Walpole, MA) took turns staffing the Partners in Preservation booth, passing out PiP buckslips and helping Expo visitors vote for their favorite Greater Boston historic places on laptop computers. Though we initially felt a little out-of-place next to Timex Watches and across from Success Rice, the Expo quickly proved to be a great place to spread the word about PiP to those who might not hear about it otherwise.

In addition to the lean Boston Marathon runners and their families, many of whom were from other places in the U.S. and around the world, we also spoke to quite a few Greater Boston community members who hadn’t yet heard about the program. It was particularly fun when passers-by recognized one or more of the 25 PiP sites on our large poster and stopped to talk about their own memories of those places. One woman’s parents had been married in St. Peter’s Church and were celebrating their 50th wedding anniversary this year; another woman, surprised to see St. Joseph’s High School in Lowell on the list, told us that she had been a member of the school’s last kindergarten class. Many people had ridden the Paragon Carousel at Nantasket Beach or had visited the New England Aquarium.

Northeast Office Director of Programs Alicia Leuba and family with volunteer Nick McDaniel.

Northeast Office Director of Programs Alicia Leuba and family with volunteer Nick McDaniel.

“The Aquarium is historic?” some asked us incredulously. “Why yes,” we told them, eager to explain the inclusion of Modernist architecture in preservation. “It set the standard for modern aquarium design. And it is 40 years old this year.” The clever response to this last comment we often received: “Well, if 40 is historic, what does that make me?” Clearly, a perfect candidate to vote online for your favorite Greater Boston historic places! we said with a smile, pressing another PiP buckslip into their hands.

To vote for your own favorite places, and to share your own stories about them, visit www.PartnersinPreservation.com today! It’s free, easy, and we guarantee the only side-effect is the joy and satisfaction that comes from preserving the historic places that matter most to you…

Alissa Anderson is intern at the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast Office in Boston.

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.

Teaching Preservation: Lessons from the Field

Posted on: April 24th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

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Notes from the Teacher's Desk

Greetings, PreservationNation!

It’s been a few weeks since my last update (the move to our new digs has, of course, been fraught with technical difficulties), and man oh man do I have some exciting news to report.

First order of business: Potters Field.

Last week, Bryan R. blogged about his research of the families buried in this mysterious section of Good Hope. His piece solicited the following comment on the National Trust's Facebook page (where everything you read here gets fed):

This is wonderful. Not only are younger students getting an invaluable introduction to conducting historical research, they are also being introduced to one of the most neglected and often overlooked historical landscapes - the American cemetery. Potters Field in particular provides an especially complex set of issues. I think it's great to see them tackled like this.

I couldn’t agree more.
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Just a few of the old records my students have used to tell the story of Good Hope. Click for a larger view.

Our last two blogs on Potters Field (here and here) are what Research History is all about. The students got out of the classroom and experienced first hand what it means to put together a puzzle and tell history. In doing so, they learned that things are not always as they appear, and they used a variety of sources (from interviews to old ledgers like the one you see here) to figure it all out.

Another lesson from Potters Field has been a simple one about people. The word “pauper” (the bulk of those buried in Potters Field) is definitely not a part of teen lexicon these days, so that was a conversation in itself. The students were a little shocked to learn that certain people were actually buried without headstones. It was an interesting day in the classroom that day.

So, did we fully solve the mystery of Potters Field? Maybe not. Did the students get a learning experience unlike anything they would ever have in a classroom? Absolutely.

And now for the big news…

A couple of weeks ago, Jeremy M. blogged about our work to secure funding for a historical marker for Good Hope. I’m very pleased to inform you that we received word this week that we won a $2,000 grant to make this happen. Definitely more to come on that front, so please stay tuned!

- Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue teaches Research History at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. The ultimate “hands-on” classroom experience, his course takes students into the field to learn about preservation and community service. Stay tuned for what's left of this academic semester as Paul and his students document their project at Good Hope Cemetery here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, keep an eye out for future “Notes from the Teacher’s Desk” columns from Paul himself.

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.