"Ladies, the home of Washington is in your charge."

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

 

Mount Vernon (Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey)

Mount Vernon (Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey)

The story goes like this: Louisa Cunningham was traveling down the Potomac on her way back to South Carolina after a trip to Philadelphia. At one point along the river she looked out the window and saw a once stately manor staring down at her, clearly having seen better days. Its columns were crumbling, the landscape untended, and the roof propped up by the masts of ships.

The year was 1853 and the manor was Mount Vernon the home of George Washington.

At the time John Augustine Washington III, the great grand-nephew of President Washington owned Mount Vernon. Lack of funds and the wear and tear of thousands of visitors left him fielding offers to sell, despite his wish that the house be placed in government hands.

Shocked, astounded, and maybe a little disgusted, Louisa writes a scathing letter to her daughter, Ann Pamela, asking why it was not possible for women to fight for the estate when it was clear that the men would not. Ann Pamela agreed with her mother and wrote an anonymous letter to the Charleston Mercury asking for action. By April 6, 1858 the Mount Vernon Ladies Association of the Union signed a contract with John Washington III for $200,000, eventually taking charge of the mansion on February 22, 1860, on the 128th Anniversary of George Washington's birth.

Mount Vernon (Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey)

Mount Vernon (Photo: Historic American Buildings Survey)

It seems easy, right? A group of women, from the upper class of American society, gathering together from across the nation to raise the money to save the home of the father of our country. How could anyone oppose this cause? Unfortunately, in 1853 the United States was on the brink of civil war, and tensions were high. Despite Ann Pamela’s initial plan to raise money and buy the house for the Commonwealth of Virginia it soon became clear that the state would not support them. In 1858, she approached Washington directly and was rebuffed. Not to be deterred she waited a night and approached Washington’s wife, who was able to convince her husband to sign the contract on April 6. Since that day the Mount Vernon Ladies Association has worked to preserve and protect the home of George Washington.

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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.

A (Lobby) Day in Photos: From the Rayburn to the Willard

Posted on: March 10th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

First and foremost, let me say that nothing you've read on this blog about Preservation Lobby Day has been an exaggeration. Just ask my feet.

From the moment it all started some twelve hours ago, it has been a no-time-to-stop sprint to the finish, which I'll admit was well worth it...the Willard Hotel (the legendary birthplace of D.C. lobbying where we finally ended our race, err, I mean day) has some killer mint juleps.

Yes, though I might not be able to walk tomorrow, my time with Team Way Outside the Beltwayers was an inspiring and action-packed experience. And, since pictures are worth a thousand words (which is about 999 more than my tired brain can conjure right now), I'll simply point you to our freshly updated Flickr photostream for the time being. You can find pictures from our advocacy training and strategy session held yesterday, as well as shots from our meetings on the Hill today.

And of course, stay tuned tomorrow and over the coming days as we continue to add content - both from me and from the team members themselves - from our day in D.C.

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.

Way Outside the Beltway TV: Exit Interview with Jennifer Meisner

Posted on: March 10th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

Way Outside the Beltway TV is back with Washington State's czarina of Lobby Day, the fabulous Jennifer Meisner. Hear all about her meeting with Mark Rupp, the D.C. chief of staff for Governor Chris Gregoire.

Want to see more? Check out additional exit interviews from Team Way Outside the Beltwayers, and stay tuned as we add others over the coming days.

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.

Call for Abstracts: International Archive of Women in Architecture Center (IAWA)

Posted on: March 10th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Editor's Note: As part of our ongoing Women's History Month coverage, we're sharing the request below, which came to us via the Society of Architectural Historians email list.

Due Date: March 15, 2009

The International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA) organization was founded in 1985 as a joint commitment of the College of Architecture and Urban Studies and the University Libraries at Virginia Tech. The mission of the IAWA organization was and continues to be to document the history of women’s involvement in architecture, interior and industrial design, landscape architecture, urban design and planning, architectural history and criticism, and the records of women’s professional organizations through the collection of material evidence. These collected works of women are housed in the Special Collections Department of the University Libraries. The IAWA scope is international, and therefore, is administered by an international board of advisors.

Goals of the IAWA:

  • Find and preserve the records of the pioneer generation of women;
  • Serve as a center for research about these occupations;
  • Appeal to retired and active women in these professions to save their papers and to consider donating them;
  • Act as a clearing house of information on the history and activities of all women in architecture…and further public education through research on the history of women in these professions through seminars, exhibits, and publications;
  • Foster cooperation between all libraries or archives containing data on, or collecting material on, women in architecture, design, and planning.

The IAWA Center collects books, biographical information, and published materials as part of its mission to act as a clearinghouse of information about all women in architecture, past and present.

In celebration of the 25th year anniversary of the Archives, an International Conference of the IAWA Center will be held in Blacksburg, Virginia at Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University where the archives are held.

Scholars are asked to submit a 500 word abstract in English describing their research on women in architecture and the related fields as defined by the IAWA Center. Please include name, professional affiliation (if applicable), address, telephone numbers, e-mail address, and a current CV.

Preference will be given to papers that address women whose materials are contained within the collection of the IAWA Center. Selected authors will be asked to develop their research into a paper (2500-5000 words) for publication in the IAWA Center 25th Anniversary Monograph to accompany the conference.

All submissions should be sent to ltucker@vt.edu Dr. Lisa Tucker, IAWA Advisor Executive Committee, School of Architecture + Design, 201 Cowgill Hall (0205), Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, VA 24061 USA.

Information about the archives can be found at http://spec.lib.vt.edu/IAWA/

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.

A Power Lunch with Team Way Outside the Beltwayers

Posted on: March 10th, 2009 by Jason Clement

 

Team Way Outside the Beltwayers does lunch at the Longworth.

I’ve only been on the Hill for a few hours, and already I’ve learned several important lessons.

Number One: Heavily starched white shirts and grayscale suits comprise the unspoken dress code for gentlemen on the Hill. Apparently, no one got the memo (as I did) that purple is the new black this season. Geez, folks.

Number Two: The vending machines in the congressional building hallways should be nominated as Wonders of the World, as they accept all major credit cards, dispense both hot and cold food items, and sell household items and DVDs.

Number Three: All the stories you hear about the “Hill buzz” are absolutely true. This is, after all, the natural habitat of our lawmakers and their overworked, bleary–eyed staff. So, to join in the fun, I asked my lunch crew of Team Way Outside the Beltwayers to chime in with some of the interesting things they’ve seen, heard and said in their meetings so far today.

Mary Rossi: “I was pleased with Rep. Larsen’s staffer and his level of engagement with my team. And, we learned that the Omnibus Bill will be the same in the Senate as it is in the House. Surprise!”

Flo Lentz: “I was pleased to hear that Preserve America funding may be secure this year after all!”

Joan Murray Simpson: “In my meeting with Rep. Baird’s staffers, I emphasized the fact that there is a dedicated historic preservation fund with $2.7 billion in funds.”

Sonya A. Quitslund: “I was encouraged that the Community Restoration and Revitalization Act will be reintroduced next month. It will extend the 20% tax credit to smaller projects. That will further promote housing and economic development.”

Chris Moore: “I met with Rep. Baird’s staff and the legislation side for Rep. McDermott. It always amazes me how sympathetic and engaged the staffers are to our issues, even if they are not that familiar with them. After my first two meetings, I am hopeful the House mark-ups for the Save America’s Treasures and Preserve America grant programs will be retained.”

And with that, I would like to share my favorite moment so far (the blogger gets a voice too!). Joan (quoted above) was telling me and a few newbie team members about her former career as a small town mayor. After explaining how rewarding and challenging that time in her life was, she looked down at her near-empty iced coffee and said with a sigh, “Yeah, I’ve really been trying to get out of politics.”

As hundreds of hardcore lobbyists and frenzied Hill staffers literally scarfed down their made-to-go salads and sandwiches around us, I couldn’t help but playfully say with a smile, “Yeah, not sure that is ever going to happen.”

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.