Montrose Matters

I’ve been on the clock as a full-timer at the National Trust for Historic Preservation for seven months and a little bit of change.

In my mind, that’s hardly a blip on the radar. After all, I recently had to ask a co-worker how to photocopy something (there are strange codes involved), and I still have no clue how snail mail reaches my desk (it magically appears in my chair during Diet Coke runs), much less how to send it myself.

My own hang-ups as a perpetual late adopter aside, if you were to ask Dolores McDonagh, our vice president for membership and one of the loudest cheerleaders on the squad for our This Place Matters campaign, she would say without blinking that seven months is more than enough time to have taken at least one picture in front of a near-and-dear space or place.

She’s absolutely right, and truth be told, I’ve had a plan all along. For me, my first stab at documenting the places that tell my story simply had to happen at the place that matters the most – 1,412 miles away from my home today at the corner of Westheimer and Yoakum in the Houston gayborhood of Montrose.

A week ago today, while on a tour of my old stomping ground in the Lone Star State, I finally made it happen. Now, you’re probably thinking, “It took seven months and a flight across the country for you to take a photo in front of a wall?” Point taken, but I assure you: that wall is the backdrop to a place that means the world to me.

You see, I attended high school in one of the countless master planned communities that are inorganically grown on Houston’s fringe. Dubbed First Colony, this massive development straddles land that was among the first to be granted to Stephen F. Austin in his quest to colonize Texas. Now, with a fascinating lineage like that, it’s easy to imagine there being a historical marker every fifteen feet or so. Instead, the suits who engineered First Colony took a big bite out of the sprawl playbook and mechanically spit out a non-place where the pioneering efforts of the Father of Texas are commemorated by miles of impervious nothingness, trees that grow in straight lines, and “neighborhoods” that are marketed on billboards by income level.

One Sunday afternoon, a sixteen-year-old version of myself received a jaw-dropping AOL instant message from a handsome guy by the name of Leo, a fellow junior at my non-place high school who had recently come out. It was a point-blank invitation to an afternoon in Montrose. I knew immediately that his friendly e-vite was predicated on two weeks of rumors that had started and then swirled after my screen name was spotted in a gay chat room. However, in that moment, denial was suddenly not my gut reaction. With the cursor and my heart pulsing at near-equal intervals, I remember looking down at the little yellow AOL man who was running – sprinting – in an endless loop at the bottom of our instant message window. He just kept going and going and going…

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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.

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.

Cheers Greet Announcement of Boston Grant Winners

Posted on: June 16th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Written by Alissa Anderson

American Express and National Trust representatives with Steven Greenberg of PiP major grant-winner Vilna Shul.

American Express and National Trust representatives with Steven Greenberg of PiP major grant-winner Vilna Shul. (Photo: Nathan Fried-Lipski)

A hush fell over the crowd assembled in the chandelier-lit lobby of the Boston Park Plaza Hotel this morning at approximately 10:45 a.m., as National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe stepped to the speaker’s podium. Even the ding of arriving elevator cars and the clatter of wheeled suitcases across the marble floor quieted as hotel guests, too, joined the rest of the audience and paused to hear the impending announcement.

What were the words everyone was so eager to hear? The name of their favorite Greater Boston historic place included among the list of 2009 Partners in Preservation major grant winners!

For the past number of months, the program’s 25 selected sites have worked tirelessly, creatively, and successfully to rally public support of their organizations through the Partners in Preservation website online voting contest. As announced on May 18th, the Paragon Carousel in Hull won this public vote and was automatically guaranteed to receive their grant request of $100,000 from American Express. Nine-tenths of American Express’s $1 million commitment still remained to be granted, however, and with the help of an Advisory Committee comprised of 21 Greater Boston civic and preservation leaders, those final decisions were made last week. Which brings us to this morning and the hushed Park Plaza lobby...

After thanking previous speakers Richard Brown, Vice President of Philanthropy at American Express, and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino, Mr. Moe proudly announced the following grant winners (virtual drumroll please!):

  • Paragon Carousel in Hull: $100,000 to restore the doors and windows of the Carousel Building
  • Crane Estate in Ipswich: $50,000 to restore the walls and terraced staircase of the Estate’s Bowling Green
  • Edgell Memorial Library in Framingham: $100,000 to restore the Library’s windows and install storm windows
  • Eliot Congregational Church in Roxbury: $75,000 to repair the church’s roof, gutters, and dormers
  • José Mateo Ballet Theatre in Cambridge: $100,000 to restore six of Sanctuary Theatre’s etched glass windows
  • Lowell’s Boat Shop in Amesbury: $86,200 to repair the shop’s roof, windows and exterior, and to install a modern heating system
  • Museum of African American History in Boston’s Beacon Hill: $100,000 to repair the Abiel Smith School’s foundation
  • Old North Church in Boston’s North End: $18,000 to repair and strengthen the church’s steeple
  • Perkins School for the Blind in Watertown: $60,000 to restore the natural pond on the school’s campus
  • Salem Old Town Hall in Salem: $75,000 to reinforce the hall’s foundation and provide new interior finishes
  • United First Parish Church in Quincy: $80,000 to restore the church’s bell tower and the Adams crypt
  • Vilna Shul in Boston’s Beacon Hill: $90,800 to uncover, preserve and display a hidden mural within the sanctuary’s Women’s Gallery
NTHP President Richard Moe and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino enjoy the celebration following the announcement.

NTHP President Richard Moe and Boston Mayor Thomas Menino enjoy the celebration following the announcement. (Photo: Nathan Fried-Lipski)

Cheers erupted as each site was named, and the crowd’s applause continued as selected representatives from every winning site came forward to be congratulated. In addition, Richard Brown also announced that each of the 13 remaining PiP sites will receive a $5,000 award in recognition of their participation in the initiative and their commitment to preservation efforts.

To all 25 of the wonderful historic places that participated in this year’s program, thank you for all your hard work, and congratulations on your successes—present and future! And to all those who cast their votes in support of their favorite Greater Boston sites, thank you for helping save the places that matter most to you! We hope that now that you’ve experienced the preservation excitement, you’ll continue to support the work of the historic places in your communities. (Might I suggest the ever-popular rallying cry of “PiP, PiP, Hooray”?)

Alissa Anderson is an intern in 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.


By Ti Hays

President Clinton created this 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Last Friday, in a positive development, a federal district court in Arizona reversed a previous decision that held that President Clinton had exceeded his authority by including management directives in the proclamation for the Sonoran Desert National Monument.

The case began when an environmental group — the Western Watersheds Project — filed a lawsuit claiming that the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) had taken too long to prepare a resource management plan and grazing suitability analysis for the Sonoran Desert. President Clinton created the 486,149-acre monument in 2001 through a proclamation authorized by the Antiquities Act of 1906.

Passed by Congress in 1906, the Antiquities Act allows presidents to establish as national monuments “historic landmarks and other objects of historic and scientific interest” located on federal land. Over the past century, presidents have used this authority to protect some of our nation’s most revered landmarks and landscapes, including the Grand Canyon, Casa Grande and Canyons of the Ancients in Colorado — a national monument with the highest known density of archaeological sites in the entire country.

In its February decision, however, the court ruled that although the Antiquities Act permitted President Clinton to establish the monument, it did not provide him with the authority to direct how the monument should be managed through the terms of the monument’s proclamation. Based on this reasoning, the court dismissed the plaintiff’s complaint for lack of standing.

Because the decision had the potential to affect the management of national monuments throughout the country, the National Trust for Historic Preservation filed an amicus curiae brief with the court this past April in support of the plaintiff’s request for reconsideration. A coalition of law professors led by former Solicitor of the Interior Department, John Leshy, submitted a similar brief. The court agreed to reconsider the case in May, and, last week, issued a new opinion upholding the president’s authority to govern national monuments through the directives of national monument proclamations.

Of obvious importance to the plaintiff, the court’s decision also removes a jurisdictional hurdle in another lawsuit involving Clinton-era national monuments. In January, the National Trust and several conservation organizations claimed in a lawsuit over the final resource management plans for Arizona’s Grand Canyon-Parashant and Vermilion Cliffs National Monuments that BLM had failed to comply with several directives of the monuments’ proclamations.

This new decision should pave the way for that lawsuit to proceed to the merits stage.

>> Download the National Trust's Amicus Curiae Brief
>> Download the Federal District Court's Final Opinion

Ti Hays is the public lands counsel for 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.

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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

Pardon Me Sir, But Can I Queer Your Space?

Posted on: June 16th, 2009 by Guest Writer 10 Comments


Dolores Park

By Elizabeth Boylan

At what point does a neighborhood evolve into a full-out "gayborhood?"

Is it defined by a critical mass of queer people living in it or utilizing a particular space? I’ve always found rainbows to be fun and festive; perhaps we could calculate the number and size of rainbow flags in any given area to determine some sort of queer numerical value.

Certainly, the Castro in San Francisco ranks high on both of these standards of measure, and is one of the more well-known gayborhoods in America. I am a lesbian and spend a fair amount of time there, but I would not call it “my gayborhood.” See, as far as the LGBT community is concerned, the Castro runs heavy on the “G,” and relatively light on the “L,” “B” and “T.” It is primarily – and at times exclusively – a gay male-oriented space.

In my opinion, not all "gayborhoods" exist as discrete neighborhoods with clear borders. Instead, some subsist in fluidity, often occupying space in a temporary or transitory manner.

Gayborhoods can exist within, around and between any neighborhood. Places and spaces that aren’t explicitly recognized as gay can function as queer meeting areas. A strong showing of lesbians (or at least “potential lesbians”) at my weekend farmers market colors my shopping excursion queer. A gay rugby team or a women’s flag football league steps on a field and converts an ordinary patch of grass into a hub of queer activity. The individuals present transform these benign places into queer spaces, and the actors and participants of these events may feel a sense of community in this momentary queering.

Local gay bars often host “ladies nights,” but as these nights occur only for selected hours each week or month, their presence is not necessarily inscribed on the physical place. I would be hard pressed to identify a permanent, physical manifestation of the queerness of San Francisco’s Dolores Park, yet thousands of lesbians descend upon its grassy hills prior to the annual San Francisco Dyke March. Similarly, San Francisco Trans March organizers stage pre-march activities and performances for transgender folks, friends and allies in the park. Walk through that same space on the other 363 non-lesbian/trans days of the year, and you'll find a diverse, eclectic and eccentric mix of people that I would still consider “queer,” regardless of their sexual orientation.

These places, while not marked exclusively as gay, provide the opportunity for a variety of gayborhoods to coalesce temporarily or informally.

Many gay communities exist without the possession of buildings forming a unique neighborhood. We do not necessarily live in separate enclaves, as queer is but one of many dynamic identities we claim. However, a lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, or queer identity becomes more salient in transient queer spaces.

While this fluidity provides flexibility and allows us to informally co-opt space, it can also render our places invisible in the built environment. That's why an inclusive analysis of gayborhoods will recognize the importance of elusive and amorphous communities, as well as those with physical borders.

Elizabeth Boylan is the administrative assistant for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Western Office in San Francisco.


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.

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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

LSU Hospital Plan Oversight Bill Stumbles in Louisiana Senate

Posted on: June 12th, 2009 by Walter Gallas


The Senate Education Committee of the Louisiana Legislature likely killed House Bill 780 yesterday by deferring it, after a vote to report it favorably out of the committee failed. It's doubtful that the bill can be resuscitated.

This bill would prohibit the LSU Board of Supervisors from purchasing or expropriating land for the development of their proposed new academic medical center in New Orleans without approval by the Joint Legislative Committee on the Budget of its financing plan.

Representative Rick Nowlin of Natchitoches, author of the bill, took some heat from New Orleans Senator Ann Duplessis, who said she was surprised that the New Orleans delegation wasn’t consulted about this bill. He stood his ground, explaining that this was a statewide matter, and that he filed the bill only after repeated unsuccessful efforts to get financial information from LSU. Joining Rep. Nowlin was State Treasurer John Kennedy who stressed that this was a bill to prevent taking property for a public purpose without having financing in place to carry it out.

Those arguments didn’t seem to connect with the vast majority of the committee which seemed, rather, to buy the argument that this bill could delay the LSU project and cost more money. The head of state facilities planning, Jerry Jones, claimed delays would cost $160,000 a day. No one questioned this figure or how he’d arrived at it.

I testified in support of the bill along with Sandra Stokes of the Foundation for Historical Louisiana, New Orleans land-use attorney William Borah, business owner Mickey Weiser, and Committee to Save Charity Hospital’s Brad Ott.

Earlier that morning, some of us attended a rather unusual press conference at which Governor Bobby Jindal appeared along with four of the state’s past governors. It was an awkward moment for Jindal, as former governor Buddy Roemer, joined by Kathleen Blanco, Mike Foster and Dave Treen exhorted the Jindal to show some leadership and not slash state higher education funding to intolerable and destructive levels.

The moment seemed an appropriate complement to our own calls for the Governor to demonstrate leadership in the LSU hospital matter, and order a comparative cost-benefit analysis of LSU’s plans versus the alternative which would incorporate the re-use of Charity Hospital.

It is remarkable that so many in leadership positions aren’t questioning LSU’s ability to assemble a financing package of over $1 billion. In the meantime, the process of appraising and then buying out and seizing properties in Lower Mid-City can continue unhindered.

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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.