March Madness has reached fever pitch at Washington High School, but I’m not talking about basketball.

You see, as soon as the afternoon bell sounds tomorrow, I (and all of my fellow Research History classmates) will officially be on Spring Break. And, as if the recurring daydreams about a week of uninterrupted bliss (no offense, Mr. LaRue) weren’t distracting enough, we’re also dealing with the constant background noise of banging furniture and packing tape. Why? Because Washington High School is moving…next door.

That’s right, when we return from vacation, we’ll report to an entirely new school building. Right now, we’re cramped in what has always felt like a makeshift home that was thrown together in 1968. Currently, you can find us fifth period Research History students held up in an upstairs math classroom vying for any unoccupied computers. During this particular period, Mr. LaRue teaches an overcrowded economics class, and has no real time or space for us. Rumor has it that, at the new school, there will be enough space in his room to house both the economic students and us Research History folks in harmony. And hey, more space and better technology means more blogging…

Earlier this week, I got to tour the new castle…I mean campus. Though I’m not a huge fan of graduating from a school that I’ve only attended for a few weeks, the new digs are pretty impressive when you consider how cramped we are now (see photos above from our updated Flickr photostream). However, there are rules about everything (stairs, doors, etc.), and there are surveillance cameras peeping out from everywhere. Oh, and no food either, which isn’t good news for Mr. LaRue and his animal crackers and banana bread.

Good or bad, all of this change (moving from a strange place to one that, in some ways, feels even stranger) has made my classmates and I look back at our middle school, which is a historic building across town that was built in 1913. We all (minus Marci, who joined us last year from a different school) love the beautiful and inspiring atmosphere of that building. We are so happy that it is being kept in use because that’s where we changed from little kids to teenagers.

I look back and remember in sixth grade when I basically broke my leg and had to wear an immobilizer. Between each and every class, I had to make my way up and down the three floors. In doing so, I definitely got to know the place, which is a good thing. Bryan really loves the band room there, and Brittney remembers sitting in the art room and drawing on those old, “artsy” desks. And we all loved kicking back in the auditorium for our reward movie days for not missing school.

Long story short, there are features of that school that you just won’t find anywhere else – including the shiny new castle. But change happens, and in addition to encouraging us to look back, it’s also prompting us to look forward. Graduation is not too far around the corner, and we’re all feeling excited, nervous and maybe even scared to death.

But whatever, that’s another topic for another blog. For now, it’s time for Spring Break.

- Sara S.

Sara S. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. For the remainder of this semester, she'll be working with her Research History classmates on a variety of preservation projects, including documenting and preserving Good Hope Cemetery. Stay tuned as they share their experiences here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream.

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.

Lobby Day 2009: Bringing It Home

Posted on: March 19th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

A week and some change after returning from Preservation Lobby Day in D.C., the buzz of Capitol Hill continues to reverberate in the offices of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Being a part of the collective effort to educate legislators and to advocate for historic resources in our nation’s capital was not only a rewarding experience, but a gratifying shot in the arm that others, elsewhere, share our vision and recognize the good work we all do.

But when the feel-good adrenalin dissipates, there is always the realization that D.C. is simply the first act in a preservation drama that unfolds annually - the need for more funding, better policies and increased attention on historic resources. The follow-up, then, is key for our future success. Fortunately, in Washington State (as is the case in all states), we have wonderful examples of how historic preservation is making a difference in our quality of life, in our environment and in the bottom-line for our budgets.

In pitching our case on Capitol Hill, the Washington Trust and our lobbying delegation provided legislators with specific examples from each of our congressional districts - preservation projects that are either currently underway or that have been recently completed. I look forward to inviting those same legislators and their in-district staffers to witness first hand the effects of preservation. Whether it’s donning a hard hat and touring a construction zone, spending a night in an old warehouse-turned-historic hotel, or sipping coffee in a café housed in a building that once served as a neighborhood drugstore (if caffeine is the twenty-first century cure-all, then Seattle is certainly the snake oil capital of the nation!), Washington’s legislators have ample opportunities to see preservation in action.

And so do yours.

With our recent visit to D.C. still fresh in the minds of our legislators and the debates over the FY10 federal budget beginning to swirl in the winds, the time is ripe for following-up at home. I remember how at one particular in-district meeting conducted last year, I was thrilled to point out to the legislator that the very building we were sitting in was a contributing structure within a National Register Historic District that had been rehabilitated using both state and federal incentive programs.

Now that is bringing preservation home.

- Chris Moore

Way Outside the Beltwayer Chris Moore is the field director for the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. Visit our Lobby Day 2009 website on PreservationNation.org to learn more about his recent trip to Capitol Hill.

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.

Gertrude Stein in Baltimore

Posted on: March 18th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Gertude Stein, age 23, attending to her medical studies in the basement of the Baltimore home. (Credit: Baltimore Style)

Gertude Stein, age 23, attending to her medical studies in the basement of the Baltimore home. (Credit: Baltimore Style)

I have explored the Mount Vernon neighborhood of Baltimore a lot since moving to the city eight months ago.  After nearly 18 years in Chicago -- a city that sprawls for nearly 230 square miles -- this National Landmark Historic District feels compact, yet grand.  Although I grew up in Montgomery County and have never lived in Baltimore, this is a homecoming of sorts.  My great-grandparents settled in Baltimore in the mid-19th century, and my father (now 90) grew up here and lives here today.  Also, my grandfather’s most famous cousin, Gertrude Stein, made her home in Baltimore while attending medical school.

With this history in mind, I recently made a pilgrimage to 215 E. Biddle Street in Mount Vernon, where Gertrude lived with her brother Leo from 1897 to1900 while she attended Johns Hopkins. According to a recent article in Baltimore Style magazine by Deborah Rudacille, Gertrude “set up housekeeping with her brother Leo. . . at 215 E. Biddle St., near where the future Duchess of Windsor would later reside.  A photograph of Stein, age 23, in her study at the house shows a human skull perched atop a tall pile of books glowering at her as she bends over a microscope, absorbed in her work.”

215 E. Biddle Street, Baltimore, MD (Credit: Baltimore Style)

215 E. Biddle Street, Baltimore, MD (Credit: Baltimore Style)

Today the building bears a plaque noting that Gertrude and Leo lived there, and on the quiet afternoon I visited it was easy to imagine her bustling up the marble Victorian steps on a cool spring day to her books inside.  It is interesting to visit a site Gertrude Stein occupied before she became an icon, a quietly historical building known only because of what its famous resident went on to achieve.  Although Gertrude did not finish her medical training, her keen sense of observation, particularly of the lives of women of various classes and races in Baltimore, formed the basis for her first major (published) work, Three Lives.  A collection of three novellas, this book tells the story of two immigrant women and an African American woman living in a mid-sized American port city.  This work seems to tell us that Gertrude Stein certainly carried a bit of Baltimore with her to Paris.

-Phoebe Stein Davis

Phoebe Stein Davis is Executive Director of the Maryland Humanities Council.

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.

From the Shadows to the Spotlight: Memoirs of a Lobby Day First-Timer

Posted on: March 18th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

It’s a little-known fact that I’ve aspired to attend Preservation Lobby Day for at least five years now, and I must say that my first experience did not disappoint - both on a personal and a professional level. And while traveling to our nation’s capital is no small feat financially (especially for an upstart non-profit program director), I’m grateful for the generous support I received from two private donors (thanks, mom!) and from the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation (thanks, Trust!). I couldn’t have stormed the Hill without them.

After deciding that it made economic sense (somewhere) to make Lobby Day a priority, I registered and began to carefully plan my attack: stay in the background, listen a lot and learn from our state’s seasoned preservation heroes. After all, I was a first-timer, and plenty of Lobby Day vets from whom I could glean invaluable insights were attending. Know your role, I always say.

However, as is usually the case whenever I determine to stay comfortably in the background, things took a decided turn towards the spotlight about a week prior to my departure, and it all started with an e-mail from Jennifer Meisner, the executive director of the Washington Trust for Historic Preservation. I remember opening it and staring incredulously at the late-breaking announcement for a few moments: “The National Trust for Historic Preservation has selected the Washington State Delegation - traditionally one of Lobby Day’s largest - as a feature for its website, PreservationNation.org!” Evidently, Team Way Outside the Beltwayers (as we were now called) would be blogged, YouTube-ed and Flickr-ed during our trip to D.C. To make things even better, I was asked to supply a headshot (do what?!?) and to fill out a brief personal questionnaire because, of course, the National Trust wanted to “build interest among the preservation movement by introducing each individual team member.”

As my plan of attack shattered before my eyes, I wasn’t sure whether to laugh hysterically or to gasp in shock. In order to play it safe (since that was working oh so well), I did both. Breathing deeply, I filled out my profile (cleverly, I hoped, since an entire movement would be reading) and sent in a “headshot” hoping that no one would notice the “Life is Good” logo on my t-shirt. Very professional.

Next thing I knew, there was another ding from my inbox from Jennifer, this time with a color-coded spreadsheet (I can still see it) attached that listed all twelve of our meetings on the Hill. Impressive, I thought. “Oh, look…there’s my name.” “Oh, look…I’m part of the first meeting of the day, and it’s with a staffer for Representative Larsen from my home district.” “Oh look…it says ‘lead’ next to my name in big, bold letters.” It was right then and there that I realized that I was now officially zero for two on the whole staying-in-the-shadows thing; I would be holding the reigns during my first-ever meeting on Capitol Hill.

Suffice it to say that the world kept revolving during Lobby Day, despite the blinding glare of the national spotlight and the jostling of the paparazzi. In fact, the pace of the day was such that it felt like the world sped up considerably. I enjoyed every minute of the action, with the possible exception of a few very long minutes spent in the stifling Longworth cafeteria, during which I felt like a freedom fry under a heat lamp. Still, it was worth it. I felt that, no matter the outcome, our team was taking action and trying to make a difference.

Although I have now returned to the somewhat less frenetic pace of the other Washington, I continue to learn from my Lobby Day experiences, and I’m very much looking forward to some follow-up action in the form of in-district meetings. If you’re getting into the spirit of things and planning to do some local lobbying yourself (please do!), consider these tips from a first-timer before you book your first visit:

  • Always be early (you know how the old saying goes).
  • Always be flexible (yes, one of our scheduled meetings occurred in the hallway).
  • And always be thankful (an all-around good policy to have in life).
  • Do your homework. Know what projects are occurring in your city/state/district, and how the person you’re meeting with is – or should be – connected to them.
  • Don’t just make the case; have a specific “ask” in mind.
  • Enjoy the fact that you’ve accepted your responsibility to engage in the democratic process, and then do it again, and again, and…
  • Don’t be afraid to be in the spotlight because it’s good for the movement.
  • Save some energy to celebrate with your team afterwards.

If Preservation Lobby Day 2009 was any indication, our movement is growing, it’s active and it’s enthusiastic. I can’t wait to do my part again next year. I think I’ll just stay in the shadows, though…

- Mary Rossi

Way Outside the Beltwayer Marry Rossi is a cultural resource planner for Applied Preservation Technologies. Visit our Lobby Day 2009 website on PreservationNation.org to learn more about her recent trip to Capitol Hill (and her subsequent lobbying 101 crash course).

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.

 

:  Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

: Mr. Robertson, son of a teacher at Mary Ray School, works hard to clean up the building. (Credit: Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation)

The Mary Ray Memorial School, one of The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2009 Places in Peril, was the site of a community workday this past Saturday, March 14th. The Georgia Trust has been engaging this year’s Places in Peril with spotlight events. “Each spotlight event has been different, as the needs of each endangered property have been different,” said Georgia Trust President, Mark C. McDonald.

The Mary Ray Memorial School has been the hub of the Raymond Community for a century now and although it had fallen into disrepair in the late 1980’s there is a strong grassroots group working on the building’s comeback. Deeded to the trustees of the people of the town of Raymond in the early part of the 20th Century the Mary Ray School was used as a School until the late 1940’s thereafter becoming a community center.

The workday began with volunteers arriving and being greeted with Paula Stanford’s homemade sausage and biscuits. After a few moments of conversation and organizing of ladders and tools the volunteers were gathered together by Allen Robertson, President of the Mary Ray Schoolhouse organization. Allen greeted everyone and discussed the projects that would occur throughout the day emphasizing that the point of the day’s activity was not only to work but also to have fellowship and enjoy the day. Mark C. McDonald thereafter announced The Georgia Trust would be awarding a matching grant to the Mary Ray Memorial School as part of its Partners in the Field Program for the amount of $10,000 for the restoration and stabilization of the building. In announcing the grant, Mark said” The volunteers of the Mary Ray School embody the very spirit of preservation and it is an honor for The Georgia Trust to be working with this group.”

Volunteers, ranging in age from 90 to 7, accomplished a lot in just one day. A bathroom addition was removed and recycled. The porch was painted and large sections of recycled trim pieces were scraped and prepped for future installation. A large section of flooring was replaced as well as a section of beaded ceiling. Debris was removed from the pockets behind wainscoting and other areas in the interior. Volunteer Cindy Eidson said, “The whole experience was wonderful and I really feel as if I have a vested interest with the building now.”

-- Jordan H. Poole

Jordan H. Poole is the Field Services Manager for the The Georgia Trust.

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.