Notes from New Orleans: Oil Spill Cleanup

Posted on: July 29th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment


Oil spill cleanup in New Orleans.Clean up of this past Wednesday’s 400,000-gallon oil spill in the Mississippi River continued as limited river traffic resumed based on shipping priorities. The Port of New Orleans estimated revenue losses of as much as $101 million per day. A 100-mile stretch of the Mississippi River was closed as environmental contractors scrambled to corral and collect the oil with containment booms, skimmer boats and “pom-poms” tied to lines to soak up the mess.

The dock of the Algiers ferry along the French Quarter riverfront became one of the staging sites for boats, personnel, and equipment.

Oil spill cleanup in New Orleans.Early Wednesday, the Tintomara, a Liberian-flagged tanker collided with a barge carrying fuel oil that was being towed by the Mel Oliver, a tug boat. The Coast Guard determined that the tugboat operator had only an apprentice license, and no one else on the tug had the appropriate license either.

The operators of New Orleans popular Natchez steamboat had been looking forward to a busy week of customers. The 2,000-passenger Carnival Fantasy cruise ship had planned to dock in New Orleans on Saturday, but was diverted to Mobile, Alabama.

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.


President Lincoln's Cottage Blog Turned 100 This Week: 100 posts, that is. To mark their centennial, the folks at the blog are listing off One Hundred Things to Know About President Lincoln's Cottage. [President Lincoln's Cottage Blog]

Ballpark Development: Planetizen takes a different look at the effects of stadium development upon neighborhoods and employment. [Planetizen]

Saving Wood Windows Means Saving Money and Energy: The Landmark Society of Western NY discusses the advantages of saving your old-growth wood windows. [Confessions of a Preservationist]

Montpelier Restoration Update: With their Grand Opening just around the corner, Montpelier's restoration team has been hard at work in and around James Madison's estate.[Montpelier Restoration Updates]

Turning Preservation into Art: Warehouses that store materials saved from historic properties can preserve key elements of architectural history. Two artists put their talent to use on items recovered from Spartanburg's Architectural Salvage store. [Preservation Trust of Spartanburg, Inc.]

Guthriesville General Store is Saved--For Now: The 140 year old building that once housed a Chester County, Pa. general store has been given 75 days to find a buyer before convenience store chain WaWa will take over and begin demolition. [Preservation Magazine]

New Historic Site Directors Appointed: Woodlawn Plantation and Pope-Leighey House--both located in Virginia--along with Chesterwood in Stockbridge, Ma. have appointed new directors. All three are National Trust Historic Sites. [National Trust Historic Sites] [National Trust Historic Sites]

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.

Kansas Court Finds Religious Exercise Would Not Be Substantially Burdened in State Preservation Law Case

Posted on: July 25th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation


Bethany Place - Photo Credit: Kansas Preservation Alliance, Inc.

On July 21, 2008 the Shawnee County District Court set aside the Topeka City Council’s decision under the Kansas Historic Preservation Act, that there were no feasible and prudent alternatives to the construction of a new parking lot for Grace Cathedral, to be located in the environs of Bethany Place, the site of Bethany College, the first women's college in Kansas. The City had approved the project despite a finding by the Kansas Historic Preservation Officer, that the proposed project would “encroach upon, damage or destroy the Bethany Place site” because it would necessitate the removal of several historic trees and change the relationship between two historic buildings on the site and the street.

In a detailed, 57-page decision, the court sharply criticized the city for ignoring evidence that feasible and prudent alternatives to the proposed parking lot existed and for granting the permit upon the threat of litigation under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Religious Land Use and Institutionalized Persons Act (RLUIPA). Significantly, the court stated a decision to deny the Cathedral’s parking lot project would not rise to the level of a “direct and substantial burden” on religious exercise.

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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.

J. Jackson Walter, 1940-2008

Posted on: July 24th, 2008 by Sarah Heffern


Jack Walter, former president of the National Trust for Historic PreservationAs noted on Monday, former National Trust for Historic Preservation President J. Jackson Walter died unexpectedly on July 18, 2008. Today's Washington Post features an article about his career, including his time leading our organization:

In 1984, Mr. Walter was appointed president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, established in 1949 as a congressionally chartered protector of historic properties.

He said he wanted the organization "to be a major central figure in public debates about what our cities should look like, where tall building should go, and try to put historic preservation right in the middle of those debates instead of at the end."

Read the entire article online here.

Jack is already missed by his friends and colleagues here at 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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

Historic Homes go Green in Britain

Posted on: July 23rd, 2008 by Patrice Frey


So lately I’ve been trying to increase my tolerance for heat and run my home air conditioner a lot less. DC in the summer is the perfect environment for such a quest -- aren't we lucky! My electricity bill hit a record high in June of $33 to cool my 500 sq ft condo (compare this to spring low of $12.) Okay, I just told a tiny lie there. My condo is actually about 450 square feet – but I’m trying to make myself feel better.

Now, I know $33 is cheap these days, and there are many others with summer electricity bills far higher. Nonetheless, I’m on a mission: keep my bill under $20 during July. Granted, I’m not quite as committed as Jeffrey and Brenda Marchant who were profiled in a recent New York Times article Trying to Build a Greener Britain, Home by Home. Mr. Marchant has kept electricity logs for his home since 1960, and thanks to a handy new gadget, can track his energy usage in real time using a smart energy meter.

The villages of Brighton and neighboring Hove, where the Marchants live, have succeeded in lowering their carbon emissions by 50% in recent years, in part through steps like smart metering. But there’s more to this story. 

The Marchants live in a historic Victorian home and have significantly improved their energy usage through retrofits and behavioral changes. The article notes that many families in these two villages have made their historic houses eco-friendly, and “done it through inexpensive and nearly invisible interventions, like under-roof insulation, solar water heaters and hallway meters, that leave their homes still looking like old Victorian houses.” 

The Marchants, for example, have reduced their energy consumption with just two structural modifications to their home -- installing a solar water heating panel and insulating their attic. Another couple in the article resorted to much more drastic measures – though it wasn’t clear what the impact was on the appearance of their house.

It’s hard not to envy the British…they are just so much farther ahead on understanding the value of existing buildings, and promoting retrofits -- thanks in large part to a government that is far more progressive on these issues. We’ve got a lot further to go on this side of the pond... but I'm optimistic that things will change with what I hope will be increased focus on global warming after the election.   

Let's hope that optimism isn't just the heat affecting my judgement.

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.

Notes from New Orleans: Jackson Barracks

Posted on: July 22nd, 2008 by Walter Gallas 2 Comments


Jackson Barracks, New OrleansJackson Barracks dates to 1835, when it was established to house the Federal garrison at New Orleans. It saw service during the Mexican War, the Civil War, and both World Wars. Reflecting the time period of its initial approval by the United States War Department, the historic officers' and enlisted men's quarters around a central parade ground survive as a unique collection of Greek Revival buildings in one spot. It is now the home of the Louisiana National Guard.

Located as it is at the Orleans-St. Bernard Parish line at the downriver boundary of New Orleans, Jackson Barracks suffered considerable flooding and damage as a result of Hurricane Katrina.

The damage notwithstanding, the state has committed to rebuilding the installation. With those plans comes Section 106 historic preservation review, since FEMA funds will be used.

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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.