I don't believe anything I see on TV.

When it comes to reclamation, Thomas Filiaggi made me a believer.

When it comes to reclamation, Thomas Filiaggi made me a believer.

I'd argue that there's nothing "real" about reality shows, and I've never fallen for a late-night infomercial (even in fits of insomnia when I'm most vulnerable). I'm always weary of fancy production, and I consistently roll my eyes when Hollywood A-listers tell daytime talk show hosts that they eat what they want and never work out. Oh, and don't even get me started on the weatherman. Where'd they find that guy, anyway?

Unfortunately, that same skepticism follows me to one of my biggest boob tube weaknesses - home improvement shows.

These days, reclaiming and reusing materials is all the rage. The other day, I saw a guy (who lives somewhere I can't even afford to vacation) rip out dashboard vinyl from cars in a junk yard and create the coolest outdoor flooring I've ever seen in my life. Once I got past the ohh-and-ahh factor of it all, I couldn't help but mentally tear the whole project down. Maybe it's because I'm the kind of person who still refers to screwdrivers as the "star one" and the "line one," but I just can't get my head around that stuff. Do normal people actually do that?

The answer is yes.

Something

Check out that church.

Meet 25-year-old Thomas Filiaggi of Lynchburg, Virginia. A couple of years ago, he did exactly what many young people his age do; he graduated from college (he comes from a proud family of Virginia Tech Hokies) and took his hard-earned degree (he's a computer whiz kid) straight to an office job. Mission accomplished, or so he thought. Filiaggi's mindset started to change after several months behind the desk, and that entrepreneurial restlessness lead to an atypical side job - restoring a 19th century gothic church in downtown Lynchburg with his dad, Larry. Sound like anything you've ever seen on TV?

According to Filiaggi, this get-in-and-get-your-hands-dirty project opened his eyes to the world of architectural salvage. It also prompted him to do something many young people his age would never, ever consider.

"I decided to drop the office job to focus on my reclamation projects because, well, I was bored to death," Filiaggi said. "I was working in a stuffy office in a paper plant where there was no real personal satisfaction in the projects I was completing. At the end of the day, the end result was still paper production."

Fast forward to today, and you'll find Filiaggi (usually accompanied by his dad) scouring old barns, schools and factories for the interesting cast-aways that fuel his successful start-up furniture business, Loft3F. The father-son work on the church also continues, and the duo hopes to soon reintroduce the city of Lynchburg to the building as first-class event space.

"Old lumber has a patina that just cannot be replicated," Filiaggi said. "I do what I do because I love turning what most people would consider trash into something functional, visually appealing and unique."

Need to see it to believe it? Now you're sounding like me.

Something

The antique heart pine ceiling for the loft at the church. This wood came out of an old high school in Pennsylvania.

A side table made out of steel, brass hardware and pine. The pine was the siding from an old tobacco barn.

Somerthing

Two ten-foot doors for the church made out of antique heart pine.

Something

Reclaimed industrial pallet. The pallet is made out of steel and maple. It came out of a warehouse located in downtown Lynchburg, and was most likely used in the tobacco or shoe industry.

Interested in more fun green reads? Visit PreservationNation.org to see how the National Trust for Historic Preservation is celebrating Earth Day.

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.

Jason Clement

Jason Clement

Jason Lloyd Clement is the director of community outreach at the National Trust, which is really just a fancy way of saying he’s a professional place lover. For him, any day that involves a bike, a camera, and a gritty historic neighborhood is basically the best day ever.

 

Written by Denise Ryan

I’m a little embarrassed to admit this, but getting a home energy audit has been on my to-do list for at least three years. So what got me moving? What got me to face the “inconvenient truth” that my house leaks like a sieve.

The answer: guilt, a growing concern about global warming, and my public policy co-worker, Patrice Frey.

Patrice leads the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Sustainability Initiative, which recently launched the Preservation Green Lab in Seattle to preserve (sustainably, of course) older and historic buildings. Now, it probably won’t surprise you that we do “talk shop” at work. Thanks to these water cooler conversations, it wasn’t long until I was sufficiently inspired to, as Mahatma Gandhi would say, “be the change [I] wish to see in the world.”

As a first step, I visited Angie’s List, an independent website that provides hundreds (maybe thousands) of reviews for service companies in D.C. and beyond. I’ve had great experiences with them looking for everything from plumbers to pet sitters, so I logged on and searched for an energy audit company. And that’s how I found Pascale Maslin with Energy Efficiency Experts, an expert/entrepreneur who conducts all of the audits herself. Much to my surprise, we were able to schedule an audit just one week later. No chance to backslide now; we were moving ahead.

Something

Pascale prepares my front door for the blower test, which helped us track down leaks and drafts.

Now for some background on my house. Built in 1956 and located in Cheverly, Maryland, it’s a detached, three-level Cape Cod with three bedrooms, two baths and a full basement. In addition to some high bills, I’ve got very little attic insulation, original windows, an old furnace, an old air conditioner, and an odd temperature discrepancy between the main floor and the upper level. I’ve done some starter improvements here and there (installed a programmable thermostat, replaced light bulbs, put a blanket around my hot water heater, etc.), but I knew that nothing would compare to the expertise of a professional home energy audit.

On audit day, the first thing Pascale did was conduct a blower door test, which sucks all of the air out of the house so that drafts, holes and cracks are easier to detect. She built a custom frame around my front door and inserted a shockingly powerful fan through an elasticized hole. Once she flipped the switch, we (very systematically) walked the entire house checking for air coming through any and everything. Among other things, we found a leak in my fireplace’s flue vent and a good size hole around the pipe under my kitchen sink. Oh, and the door to the basement was a veritable wind tunnel! What was that about?

... Read 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.

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.

Wisconsin, Home to Earth Day Pioneers

Posted on: April 22nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Trent Margrif

With Earth Day, many pioneers in the land preservation and conservation movement are recognized throughout the state of Wisconsin. Gaylord Nelson, former state Governor and United States Senator is widely credited with the invention of the concept of Earth Day in 1970. This legacy and the history of Gaylord Nelson are well chronicled and shared with images, speeches, and overall great information.

John Muir, a pioneering advocate of natural preservation and founder of the Sierra Club, lived at Fountain Lake Farm near Montello, Wisconsin during his youth in the 1850s. The formation of his conservation philosophy can be traced to the years he spent here. The site is a National Historic Landmark, though no structures associated with Muir’s period of residence currently remain. The farm is part of a 125 acre park owned, operated, and open to the public by Marquette County.

The Leopold Shack, viewed from the back.

The Leopold Shack, viewed from the back.

More recently, Aldo Leopold is viewed as a pioneer in the modern land conservation movement. In the 1940s, his ideas represented a shift towards preservation and appreciation of nature in an early impetus for the modern environmental movement. It was during his time at the family cabin, “the Shack” that he formulated these thoughts in the groundbreaking Sand County Almanac, published a year after his death in 1948.

In 2003, the Aldo Leopold Foundation received a grant of $5,000 from the National Trust for Historic Preservation towards a Historic Structures Report for the Leopold Shack. This report assisted restoration efforts and it currently is utilized for public education tours. Visitors can now experience the property as Aldo Leopold did and gain perspective on his thoughts regarding land conservation. The green restoration of the shack will be featured in an upcoming presentation on May 29th, 2009. Also make sure to check out the Aldo Leopold Legacy Center. It is a newly constructed building, but for awhile was the greenest building in the world and makes an interesting comparison with the Shack.

... Read 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.

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.

Main Street Stimulus – Myth or Reality?

Posted on: April 21st, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

The National Trust Main Street Center has been leading a movement to revitalize America’s traditional and historic downtowns – our Main Streets – since 1980. But our concept of Main Street, a bustling central business district that is the heart of a community, is not necessarily the Main Street policy makers and pundits are referring to when they talk about economic recovery.

As Doug Loescher, director of the Center says in a recent online article:

Last November, for example, the U.S. Conference of Mayors endorsed the "Main Street Stimulus," a series of "shovel-ready" projects that would put people back to work, while rebuilding our infrastructure. Many of those ideas made it into the final stimulus package, approved by Congress and President Obama last month. And as recently as last week, Main Street coordinators in our network have been peppered with questions about the stimulus, and what it means for them.

First things first… the much-talked about "Main Street Stimulus" as endorsed by the U.S. Conference of Mayors is in no way connected with the National Trust Main Street Center, the Main Street program, or our network. Moreover, most of the "shovel-ready" projects will not take place on – or even near – a Main Street.

But this, of course, is not the whole story. To learn more, check out Doug’s Main Street News story of the week.

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.

New Threats to the Minidoka National Historic Site

Posted on: April 20th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Elaine Stiles

Entrance to Minidoka, 1944.

Entrance to Minidoka, 1944.

The Minidoka National Historic Site (NHS) in Jerome County, Idaho is a place with a hard past, and for the past few years, a pretty challenging present, too. Now a National Park unit, Minidoka was one of ten relocation centers for persons of Japanese descent during World War II. The National Trust for Historic Preservation listed the Minidoka NHS as one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places in 2007 because of threats posed to the site by construction of a 13,000 head factory dairy farm less than a mile away. The farm has the potential to ruin the visitor experience at Minidoka, flooding it with foul odors, dust, and pests. After a long local permitting process and subsequent lawsuit, the county granted the permit to construct the farm, though no building has begun. Late last year, the National Trust, a consortium of advocates for the historic site, and local property owners filed a lawsuit to stop construction of the farming operation on procedural and constitutional grounds.

Now the Minidoka NHS faces a new potential threat. A portion of a planned 500-mile, 500 kilovolt electric transmission line between Idaho and Nevada is proposed to traverse or run less than one quarter of a mile away from the NHS. Conceived of more than 20 years ago, the Southwest Intertie Project (SWIP) was granted a right-of-way through what is now the Minidoka NHS by the U.S. Bureau of Land Management. (The BLM managed the land that is now the NHS before the designation.) The independent power company pursuing the SWIP is also considering alternatives to the existing right-of-way, some of which would place the power line a short distance outside the main entrance of the NHS. These massive power lines would greatly impact the integrity of the historic site and potentially affect interpretive planning.

The Minidoka NHS is a fledgling National Park unit. The site is still awaiting funding to realize the interpretive plans the Park Service and its partners, including former internees and their families, crafted after its designation in 2001. Minidoka has much to teach us about the story of Japanese Americans in our country, the American homefront during World War II, and perhaps most importantly, the history of civil liberties and human rights in the U.S. Recently, Congress recognized this importance by authorizing the Park Service to expand the bounds of the NHS to include adjacent resources and partially funding a national grant program to interpret, protect, and restore Japanese American confinement sites nationwide. Much work remains to be done, however, to protect Minidoka and its story against the ill effects of industrial agriculture and our ever-growing energy needs.

Learn More:

Elaine Stiles is a Program Officer in the Western 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.