The National Main Streets Conference: An Introduction

Posted on: March 3rd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Greater Chicago provides abundant examples of historic preservation’s important place in the revitalization of urban downtowns and neighborhood business districts. (Photo: Linda Glisson)

Greater Chicago provides abundant examples of historic preservation’s important place in the revitalization of urban downtowns and neighborhood business districts. (Photo: David Urschel)

The National Main Street Conference is here! Part tent revival, part family reunion, part summit, the annual conference—organized by the National Trust Main Street Center since 1986—brings together the best and brightest experts and practitioners of commercial district revitalization from across the land.

The largest conference of its kind in the country, the event showcases the best practices, tools and great ideas to create vibrant places to live, work, and play. The majority of the 1,600+ conference attendees either work for the 1,200 Main Street organizations that dot the U.S. or for the coordinating programs that support them. The conference gives these attendees a once-a-year opportunity to convene with their colleagues from states near and far to celebrate their revitalization successes, to reflect on their challenges and to brainstorm together how to do even better.

The 2009 conference is already underway in Chicago, Illinois. This year’s theme, Becoming Main Street 2.0, focuses the spotlight on how Main Street organizations can harness new technology to advance the evolution of their older and historic downtowns and business districts. From Facebook to MySpace to Google Adwords, the conference examines how Main Street businesses and organizations can use these tools to communicate, conduct business and promote themselves.

Other topics for discussion at the conference are “Dude, What’s Up Downtown,” which attempts to attract Generation X and Y to Main Street; “Successful Farmer’s Markets from the Ground Up,” a how-to for starting and operating a local farmers’ market; “Modernism and Main Street” which explains the key role that buildings from the more recent past play on Main Street; and “Hispanic Leadership and Main Street,” one of several sessions that explores the diverse contributions that Hispanics and other ethnic groups make to a successful Main Street community.

A very visible piece of Andersonville’s unique charm is in its celebration of its Swedish heritage. (Photo: Linda Glisson)

A very visible piece of Andersonville’s unique charm is in its celebration of its Swedish heritage. (Photo: Linda Glisson)

In addition to more than 60 educational sessions, the National Main Streets Conference also gives attendees opportunities to take to the street to witness first-hand area revitalization efforts. "Selling Preservation in Chicago’s Latino Pilsen Neighborhood" explores the successes and challenges of language and cultural barriers in this Main Street commercial district; "Urban Renewal 50 Years Later: From Urban Main Street to Suburban Thruway. Now What?" takes a walk down Hyde Park’s 55th Street, a thoroughfare that has long struggled to redefine itself after Urban Renewal demolished much of its historic character. And "Chicago’s Andersonville Neighborhood: Local Sustainable Community Development", examines its unique economic development strategy, focusing on promotion and retention of locally owned businesses, architectural preservation, celebration of its Swedish heritage and modern diversity.

So as you can see the scope is vast and the subject matter fascinating. Stay tuned for more information about Monday's opening plenary session which explored Main Street’s position in these turbulent economic time—and I'm happy to say that there is plenty of good news!

- Erica Stewart

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Community Revitalization Program. Stay tuned here and on their official blog as Erica and her colleagues share posts live from the 2009 National Main Streets Conference, which is taking place this week in Chicago.

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.

Life Cycle Assessment: Making It Understandable, Usable & Real

Posted on: March 3rd, 2009 by Barbara Campagna

 

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LCA will help us show how demolishing a historic hotel - like this one in Miami Beach - and replacing it with a new one will negatively impact the environment much more than just renovating it.

I recently had the honor of being invited to the Life Cycle Inventory Database Stakeholders Meeting at the Department of Energy. This group has been meeting for the past five years to develop the Life Cycle Inventory Database – the American version of some very effective tools that have been in place in Europe for many years now. The National Renewable Energy Laboratory (NREL) is managing this database and project.

Now, I will admit, I smugly admire my own intelligence at times, but this was a place where I was so intellectually out of my league, I had to leave the room a few times just to keep from hyperventilating! It’s good to be humbled sometimes.

Important Note: The rest of this post is highly technical. If you can’t get through it, feel free to just jump to the bottom paragraph. It’s okay; I won’t be offended!

What is life cycle assessment?

Life cycle assessment (LCA) is a scientific methodology to calculate the environmental performance of a product, material or building over its full life cycle. LCA evaluates all stages of a product’s life from the perspective that they are interdependent, meaning that one operation leads to the next. LCA enables the estimation of the cumulative environmental impacts resulting from all stages in the product life cycle, often including impacts not considered in more traditional analyses (e.g., raw material extraction, material transportation, ultimate product disposal, etc.). By including the impacts throughout the product life cycle, LCA provides a comprehensive view of the environmental aspects of the product or process, as well as a more accurate picture of the true environmental trade-offs in product and process selection. (This definition is from an article entitled “Life Cycle Assessment: Principles & Practice” by Scientific Applications Internationals Corporation of Reston, Virginia.)

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If LCA of this terra cotta walrus on the Arctic Building in Seattle seems complicated, imagine how complicated whole-building LCA is.

For example, look at this terra cotta walrus from a famous Seattle building. Performing LCA just of this walrus would measure the energy and its impacts on the environment, including what it took to dig the clay from the ground that was used to make the terra cotta; the impacts of the manufacturing of the terra cotta; the packaging and transportation of the walrus to the building site; the energy and impacts it then took to affix it to the building; and the amount of energy and materials used over its life to maintain and restore it.

If that sounds really complicated just to measure this one walrus, imagine how complex it is to determine this information for an entire building. It boggles the mind.

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

Preservation Roundup: Afternoon Architecture Edition

Posted on: March 2nd, 2009 by Matt Ringelstetter

 

Preserving the Brutal: "Many of the preservation problems were due to Rudolph's "modernism." Boldly unconventional in concept, plan, materials and execution, the building's untested and experimental components had not only disintegrated beyond repair, but were inferior to subsequent advances in basic building technology. It made no sense, nor was it possible, to seek matching replacements. The structure was essentially stripped to its frame and rebuilt." [The Wall Street Journal]

Architecture During Wartime: American architecture during World War II is often overshadowed by pre-war styles and post-war modernism. Architectural historian Richard Anderson argues that production during the second World War "was a key moment in the process of modernization, and manifold issues are raised by the preparation of war, the total mobilization of territories and cities and their eventual occupation, destruction and reconstruction." [a456]

Looking For a Daily Dose?: Check out "A Daily Dose of Architecture," a blog that features images and thoughts on a wide array of architectural examples. Today's photo shows the construction of Adler and Sullivan's Wainwright building in St. Louis, Missouri. [A Daily Dose]

100 Years of the Futurist Manifesto: Rejecting all things "old," Filippo Tommaso Marinetti's Futurist Manifesto of 1909 laid the groundwork for Benito Mussolini's Fascismo political movement of the 1920's--It also inspired an entire style of art and even architecture. The themes put forth by Marinetti sounds extremely brutal and raw, especially due to our ability to see what terrible consequences resulted from the political implementation of his ideas. The language expressing the love of speed, power, movement, and virility, however, is remarkably vivid. A few examples from the Futurist Manifesto: 2. The essential elements of our poetry will be courage, daring, and revolt. 4. We declare that the world's wonder has been enriched by a fresh beauty: the beauty of speed. A racing car with its trunk adorned by great exhaust pipes like snakes with an explosive breath... References to race cars and speed sound really cool, but I can't say I'd agree with, We want to demolish museums, libraries, fight against moralism, feminism, and all opportunistic and utilitarian cowardices. [anArchitecture ]

Avant-Garden Landscape Architecture: Christian Barnard's landscape architecture blog points out 10 "avant-garden" architects that have made a difference in the field. [ChrstianBarnard]

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.

Celebrating Our Great Downtowns: 2009 Great American Main Street Award Winners

Posted on: March 2nd, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

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Green Bay’s Broadway District has gone from seedy to sublime.

Have you ever wondered what an Atlantic beach town has to offer in February? Or maybe pondered what lies beyond Baltimore’s Inner Harbor? Have you ever wished for an alternative to Napa Valley that isn't quite so crowded? If so, you're in luck. The 2009 Great American Main Street Awards introduce us to five communities that answer those questions and a whole lot more.

Each year since 1995, the National Trust Main Street Center has recognized five historic and older downtowns and neighborhood business districts that are truly the commercial and cultural hearts of their communities. These are also places that offer tourists refreshing and authentic experiences.

In 2009, we celebrate El Dorado, Arkansas; Rehoboth Beach, Delaware; Broadway in Green Bay, Wisconsin; Federal Hill in Baltimore, Maryland; and Livermore, California. Led by local Main Street organizations, these downtown revitalization efforts have brought jobs to their communities, filled streets with festival-goers, lined sidewalks with attractive landscaping and lighting, and helped so many business owners meet their markets and thrive.

Rehoboth’s installation of 24 fiberglass dolphins in its downtown has helped draw thousands of visitors and raised $85,000 at auction for main street revitalization.

How did they do it? The challenges and opportunities presented by each downtown are as unique as their spot on the map. However, the common denominator is a commitment to a strategy that incorporates local assets, including cultural and architectural heritage, hometown businesses and community pride. This strategy is known as the Main Street Four-Point Approach®. Devised by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in the 1970s, the approach was crafted in response to a citizen movement that clamored for a stop to the decay and destruction of our nation's beloved downtowns. It consists of a comprehensive methodology for revitalization that is fueled by residents, business owners, civic leaders, elected officials, corporations and foundations.

Since its inception more than 25 years ago, this approach has guided the successful revitalization of more than 2,300 communities nationwide with staggering results. And the annual Great American Main Street Awards celebrate the best of the best. We invite you to take a walk down the great Main Streets of this year's five winners to see for yourself what makes them so special.

- Erica Stewart

Erica Stewart is the outreach coordinator for the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Community Revitalization Program. Stay tuned here and on their official blog as Erica and her colleagues share posts live from the 2009 National Main Streets Conference, which is taking place this week in Chicago.

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.

Let's Do It For Our Daughters (& Our Sons)

Posted on: March 2nd, 2009 by Dolores McDonagh

 

The author takes her guys on a hunt for women's history at the Forest Glen Seminary in Silver Spring, Maryland.

I grew up in a very female-centric world – one mom, seven sisters and the ubiquitous nuns all through my Catholic school days. Sure, I had a dad and two brothers, but we definitely skewed "girl." But nature has a way of evening things out, so I wasn’t really surprised to be blessed with two sons. A little intimidated, but not surprised.

It turns out boys are pretty great - if for no other reason than they give me an opportunity to channel my inner guy. You see, I love trains, baseball and visiting historic sites (including battlefields). And since we live in the Washington, D.C. area, there are plenty of those to go around. There’s the B&O Railroad Museum in Baltimore, Mount Vernon in Northern Virginia, Fort Stevens in northwest D.C., and one of the National Trust’s newest sites, President’s Lincoln Cottage, in northeast D.C.

But I recently got to thinking, "What if I’d had two girls?" Would it be as easy to find historic sites that daughters could identify with? Sites that told the story of the girls and the women who helped forge our nation? Well, it turns out that it’s not easy. In fact, it’s downright hard. A perusal of dc.about.com lists just four "women’s" historic sites, and one of those is an art museum.

So then I think, "Maybe it’s just D.C." But sadly, it seems to be a more widespread phenomenon. When I asked our National Trust Historic Sites staff for information about women’s history at our own sites, more often than not the I answer I received was "Well, the house was donated to the Trust by a woman."

The fact is, we (and I include the National Trust in this indictment) do a pretty bad job of telling the story of women’s history – and of the role of women in historic preservation. Kind of ironic as it’s often women who are at the forefront of preservation battles. Hell, the movement was "birthed" by a woman – Anne Pamela Cunningham, who in 1853 thought maybe it wasn’t such a great idea to let them tear down Mount Vernon. She galvanized a national fundraising effort to buy, restore and operate the home of the "father" of our country, and today, Mount Vernon is still faithfully stewarded by the Ladies’ Association of Mount Vernon.

So, let’s change this sorry state of affairs, shall we? Starting right now on just the second day of Women's History Month, let’s take some time to recognize and  celebrate the accomplishments of women – undaunted and unsung, famous and infamous, daring, and yes, domestic.

We’ll start with a few stories on our own Women's History Month website on PreservationNation.org, but we really want to hear from you. Post a picture to our This Place Matters photo-sharing campaign or share a story of a women who made a difference in history (yours or our nation’s) by posting a comment below.

Let’s do it for our daughters – and our sons.

Dolores McDonagh is the vice president for membership development at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Learn more about how the National Trust is celebrating the accomplishments of women in preservation by visiting our new Women's History Month website.

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.