Pride & Revitalization Help 'Naptown' Wake Up

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by Guest Writer 1 Comment

 

tpm_indianapolis

Written by Nicholas Murphy

A lot of people have this image of Indianapolis as a very generic, all-American city, with Midwestern values and not much in the way of culture and diversity. Indeed, for the longest time, the city had the nickname of “Naptown,” mainly because the downtown was one of those where it seemed like the sidewalks would roll up after 5 p.m.

When I first moved to Indianapolis in 1993, I was very much the country boy moving to the “big” city. Of course, I had never really felt at home in the country for things that came screaming out of the closet later, but for me, Indianapolis was home from the very beginning. Of course, at that time, the “Naptown” derogatory was very much in effect. The downtown was dreary and pretty desolate, with some shining spots, but in 1996 all of that began to change. Not only is that the year I told my best friend that I was gay, but that was also the year that Circle Center Mall opened in downtown, which marked the beginning of a makeover that has remade Indianapolis into a shining example of downtown revitalization.

metroprideBefore that, when I was just a young guy coming to grips with his sexuality, I had heard of places in and around Massachusetts Avenue (Mass Ave), gay bars and other establishments, where people like me could go and be themselves. Of course, at that time, my idea of a gay bar was pretty much the Blue Oyster Bar from the Police Academy movies, but still, it seemed like this exotic idea. Luckily, since I was underage at the time, there was a coffeehouse, The Abbey, at the corner of Mass Ave and College, which was a hangout for gay youth. So, with my school books in tow, I went down to study and take it all in. That was my first foray in to the gay life of Indianapolis, and while I was still an outsider looking in, it was great to be able to see people younger than me be so comfortable with themselves.

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Advocates for Brooklyn Bridge Lose Key City Council Vote

Posted on: June 11th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Written by Roberta Lane

Disappointing, but not unexpected, news.

The New York City Council approved the Dock Street DUMBO project's rezoning application by a margin of 40 - 9. The wide margin was attributed to Speaker Christine Quinn's influential support for the project. It was particularly unfortunate and unusual that the vote went this way over the objections of the councilmember representing the DUMBO district, David Yassky, who passionately appealed to his fellow members to join him in opposing the project at the last hearing.

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Roberta Lane is a program officer & regional attorney in the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Northeast 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.

Local Effort and Expertise Yields a New Landmark in Augusta, GA

Posted on: June 10th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

Written by Robyn A. Mainor

The National Historic Landmark plaque unveiling: Robert Osborne, First Vice President, Historic Augusta, Ray Rivera and Vicki Dixon, United States Department of the Interior, Mark McDonald, President and CEO, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Erick Montgomery, Executive Director, Historic Augusta.

The National Historic Landmark plaque unveiling: Robert Osborne, First Vice President, Historic Augusta, Ray Rivera and Vicki Dixon, United States Department of the Interior, Mark McDonald, President and CEO, Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation; Erick Montgomery, Executive Director, Historic Augusta.

As a Partners in the Field representative, it is rewarding to participate in events spotlighting commitment to preservation of resources saved through local efforts and expertise. Friday, May 15th, 2009, was a long-awaited day for Historic Augusta, Inc. as the Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was officially unveiled as Augusta’s newest National Historic Landmark. Announced in October 2008, Historic Augusta was eager to have the celebration during the Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s Annual Meeting and Spring 2009 Ramble so preservationists from across the state would have a unique event to attend.

Augusta is home to five other National Historic Landmarks including the Old Medical College of Georgia and the Augusta Canal Industrial District. A crowd of more than seventy out of town guests and local enthusiasts gathered on the front lawn of 419 Seventh Street to watch as Mr. Ray Rivera and Ms. Vicki Dixon, both from the Department of the Interior, revealed the plaque and congratulated Historic Augusta’s Executive Director, Erick D. Montgomery, and First Vice President, Mr. Robert Osborne. After the ceremony, tours were given for all those who attended to highlight the award winning restoration which was completed in 2001, ten years after the house was purchased in 1991.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson was built in 1859 by local stove merchant, Aaron H. Jones, a native of Eastport, Maine. The new house was sold for $10,000 in February, 1860 to the Trustees of the First Presbyterian Church. The Wilson Family moved into their new home soon after it was purchased. At the time, the family included the parents, Joseph and Janet Woodrow Wilson, also known as Jessie and Jeanie, two sisters, Marion (9) and Annie (6), and three year old Thomas Woodrow Wilson, called Tommy. Later, in 1867, a fourth child would be born in the house, Joseph R. Wilson, Jr. The house is two and one-half stories high, built of solid brick, and enhanced with a small portico on the front with balconies on either side. It had gas lights, 12 foot ceilings with plaster moldings and a fireplace in every room. Detached in the back yard was a two story brick service building that contained a modern 1860s kitchen, a laundry room, a wood storage room and two servant's rooms on the second floor. Across the back yard was a carriage house with a second floor hayloft where Tommy met with his friends of the Lightfoot Baseball Club. Here they practiced parliamentary procedure and operated under a set of bylaws drawn up by the future president. The Wilsons lived in the house for almost eleven years, witnessing the Civil War and Reconstruction.

The Boyhood Home of President Woodrow Wilson is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday 10am thru 5pm. More information can be found through their website, www.wilsonboyhoodhome.org and www.historicaugusta.org.

Robyn A. Mainor is the Preservation Services Director for Historic Augusta, Inc., and a Field Representative in partnership with 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.

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.

Surely There Couldn't Be a Threat to the Brooklyn Bridge, Right? Wrong.

Posted on: June 10th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

New York City Residents:  Contact City Council Speaker Christine Quinn and Mayor Michael Bloomberg to urge them to reject the Dock Street proposal.

Written by Roberta Lane

Brooklyn Bridge above as it now appears.  (Credit: Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance)

Brooklyn Bridge above as it now appears. (Credit: Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance)

This afternoon, the City Council of New York City will vote on whether to approve the Dock Street DUMBO project, a 17-story tower that would rise within 98 feet of the Brooklyn Bridge on the Brooklyn side. The National Trust for Historic Preservation and many others in New York City oppose the project, which would compete with and diminish the bridge's signature profile. Construction of the Dock Street project as proposed would damage the treasured visual experience of the bridge from points all over the city.

The gravity of the threat to the Brooklyn Bridge has attracted the attention of some of the country's most renowned scholars and luminaries, led from the start by David McCullough, a former Trustee of ours and author of The Great Bridge: The Epic Story of the Building of the Brooklyn Bridge. Mr. McCullough worked in partnership with the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance to actively oppose the project. With an article in Newsweek, and multimedia on the New York Times website, among other efforts, Mr. McCullough attracted national attention to the issue and helped raise alarm among New Yorkers, who can easily lose track of the threats upon threats to their built heritage in the city's only-slightly-slowed churn of unmanaged or poorly managed development.

Brooklyn Bridge above as it would appear with this development.  (Credit: Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance)

Brooklyn Bridge above as it would appear with this development. (Credit: Dumbo Neighborhood Alliance)

In most cases, preservationists' first job is to lay out a clear case for the public on why the places we want to protect really matter. I think that we actually enjoy that part, as it is -- essentially -- a storytelling gig. We try to transport people through time to marvel at the layered history of places, and we try to show how preserving richness and depth in the built environment enriches our daily lives.

The Brooklyn Bridge, though, needs no such introduction. Its power as a symbol of America's vision, strength, and history of innovation transcends New York (sorry New York!), and has moved poets, photographers, moviemakers, tourists, and native city-dwellers since it was completed in 1883. You can read David McCullough's gripping history of the bridge's construction to learn more about the drama and moment that attended its design and construction, but even if you don't know all of the details, seeing the bridge or crossing it is enough to love it. In dealing with the threat posed by the Dock Street DUMBO project, we found that we can almost talk about the significance of views of the Brooklyn Bridge in shorthand, because everyone in the country knows that the Brooklyn Bridge matters.

It seems strange that there is threat to such a widely beloved place. How could this happen? There are a few forces at work. Development in New York City has slowed, but it is still moving along at a rapid clip. And the Bloomberg administration has an unfortunate history of letting New York's historic character and significant places take a backseat to ambitious new construction projects.

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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.

 

DC Bar

By Mark Meinke

Times change.

plus_one1Forty years ago, gay-friendly bars – and their patrons – began pushing the envelope in Washington, D.C. It was the envelope of regulations prohibiting standing with a drink, moving with a drink, dancing with someone of the same sex, and all of those other "reprehensible" things that police and zoning codes outlawed. Paul Kuntzler, campaign manager of Frank Kameny’s 1971 ground-breaking run for Congress, calls them the "transitional bars."

Strictly speaking, there were no bars in D.C. Prohibition ended, but D.C. ruled that only restaurants could serve drinks. And since diners are seated, there was no option to stand and drink and walk about and talk – all those things that normally happen in a bar or tavern. In fact, if you saw someone at another table and wanted to talk, you had to leave your drink behind and find a waiter or a waitress to bring it to you.

In the late 1960's, they pushed envelopes at the 1832 House (1832 Columbia Road, NW), the Pier 9 (1854 Half Street, SW) and JoAnna’s (430 8th Street, SE). Kirby Matson, manager at the 1832 House, argued that diners waiting for a table could stand with a drink, so he put a bar upstairs for the "waiting public." Code required that the waiting public be screened from the public, so he put up six inches of chicken wire. At the Pier 9 (pictured above), the small cocktail tables all had numbers on stands and a phone so that if you saw a cute someone at another table, you could call and talk without leaving your table. JoAnna’s, the "first nice women’s bar," opened in 1968 on 8th Street and put in a dance floor for (horrors!) same-sex dancing. It was an overnight success. Within months, there were three other clubs on 8th Street featuring same-sex dancing. And the police didn’t do a thing.

The first "super dance club" opened across the street from JoAnna’s as the Plus One at 529 8th Street, SE. Kuntzler remembers an evening in the summer of 1968 when police cars raced up 8th Street, blocking both ends of the street around the Plus One. The police got out of their cars, expecting the gays to take to their heels and run. They didn’t. The gay men just stood there looking at the police with a confused look. So the police got back in their cars, drove around the block and roared up the street again hoping that the gays would scatter. They didn’t.

Gay Guys – 1; Police – 0.

Times indeed changed.

Mark Meinke is the chair of the Rainbow History Project, an organization that he help found in November 2000. The group seeks to collect, preserve and promote an active knowledge of the history, arts and culture relevant to sexually-diverse communities in metropolitan Washington, DC.

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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.

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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 editorial@savingplaces.org.