Help Give Away ONE MILLION Dollars!

Posted on: February 25th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

Vote for your favorite historic sites in Boston from April 14 - May 17, 2009.

The Boston skyline.

The Boston skyline.

American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation have just announced that Greater Boston has been selected as the next region for the community-based Partners in Preservation program. With your input, the program will give away $1 million in preservation grants in Greater Boston.

American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and our Northeast Office have identified 25 historic places throughout Greater Boston that reflect the region’s rich and diverse cultural heritage. Those sites will be revealed on April 14 at www.PartnersinPreservation.com.

From April 14 - May 17, you  -- and everyone you know -- can cast votes at www.PartnersinPreservation.com for the places you would like to see receive preservation funding, and share your personal stories and photos of the 25 sites. Each person can vote once daily for any of the 25 historic places. The winner of the public vote is guaranteed to receive a grant, so your votes really do count!

The Greater Boston area is the fourth region to receive funding from American Express under the initiative. American Express has already given away $2.5 million in preservation grants to sites in the San Francisco Bay Area, Chicagoland and New Orleans.

-- Caroline Barker

Caroline Barker is a communications coordinator 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.

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.

Dispatch from Dubuque: Luring People Back to the Heartland

Posted on: February 24th, 2009 by Patrice Frey 2 Comments

 

Las Vegas sprawl. (world.mongabay.com)

Las Vegas sprawl. (world.mongabay.com)

For awhile now I’ve been pondering the huge challenge presented by American demographic shifts –- that is, the massive movement of population from the industrial cities of the Northeast and Midwest to points south and southwest. For the last few decades, Americans have fled the heartland as manufacturing jobs went overseas, for cities such as Las Vegas, Atlanta, Houston, and Phoenix. Ahh the painful, troubling reality of masses of people fleeing smaller, sustainably designed older cities for the sprawling, largely soulless tracts of suburbia -- albeit with the promise of warmer winters and much needed new jobs. All of this while the planet heats up.

And what is to become of these smaller industrial cities? The Pittsburghs, Buffalos, and Clevelands? These paragons of sustainability? Don’t laugh -- I think that these places are paragons of sustainability. Designed before widespread use of the automobile, these communities were built more compactly out of necessity. These neighborhoods tend to be dense, walkable, feature mixed uses, and are very often accessible to public transit. These places contain the very features that are promoted by Smart Growth and New Urbanist advocates today.  And that's to say nothing of their charm and character.

But we have nearly abandoned so many of these special places -– in favor of, well, the photo above. But there’s hope yet.

My colleague Jennifer Sandy and I spent two days in Dubuque, Iowa last week with National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe, attending a conference on Sustainability and Historic Preservation where he gave the keynote speech. We spent some time touring the city and meeting with local leaders and property owners to learn about Dubuque’s plans for the sustainable redevelopment of their Historic Millwork District. This area includes 28 buildings comprising one million square feet that are largely vacant or underutilized.  (See the city's masterplan for the Millwork District.)

The warehouse district in Dubuque.

The warehouse district in Dubuque.

Historic preservation is at the very core of Dubuque’s sustainable redevelopment effort; the city recognizes the need to reuse existing buildings in their efforts to be more sustainable, and is determined to improve energy efficiency, and reduce water usage in these buildings as well. The Historic Millwork project also includes a significant social component, and is connecting disadvantaged youth to jobs produced as part of the project.

And their work is already starting to pay off. Just a few weeks ago IBM announced that it would locate a service center in Dubuque -– bringing 1,300 new well-paying jobs. And the reason IBM chose Dubuque over the 350 other cities under review? That would be because of the city’s commitment to public-private partnerships, and its commitment to sustainable development. Seems the IBM executives are just as enthusiastic about the vision for the sustainable redevelopment of the historic Millwork District as many of us nerdy preservationists…since the warehouse district revitalization will produce highly desirable (and affordable) housing in a dynamic and vibrant historic setting. That makes it a whole lot easier to attract talent to fill those jobs.

I left Dubuque optimistic –- thinking that perhaps this is the beginning of a way to address our seemingly intractable demographic challenge.  And I’m wondering if the National Trust would be interested in opening a field office in Dubuque. I know exactly where I want to live.

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.

Teaching Preservation: Making a Mark in History

Posted on: February 24th, 2009 by Guest Writer

 

My classmate, Seth B., and I are on a mission to make sure that Good Hope Cemetery has a historical marker like this one day.

History is everywhere.

Whether we realize it or not, the neighborhoods we live in, the roads we drive down, and the many houses and buildings we pass are all part of a larger story.

This is why historical markers are so much more than just metal signs; they tell stories that no one should forget and serve as much-needed reminders to all of us to recognize the history in our daily lives. They're a friendly “Hey you! Pay attention! This is important!”

For this reason, I am honored to be working with fellow Research History classmate Seth B. on applying for an Ohio historical marker for Good Hope Cemetery.

You may remember from some of our previous posts, but if not, here’s a refresher. Good Hope Cemetery is located not far from our school in Washington Court House. Its rural country setting makes it a pleasant place to visit and a serene place for the dead to rest in peace. A historical marker would not only add to the significance of the cemetery, it would encourage more people to stop in and explore.

To start the process of obtaining a marker, we met with the trustees who manage the site and proposed our idea. Luckily, they were all in. They knew the marker would be a great addition to the cemetery and agreed to our help. Following the meeting, Seth and I began looking up prices for makers on the Internet, which ranged from $1,900 to $2,150.

With this knowledge in mind (and with the assistance of our teacher, Mr. Paul “Lash” LaRue), we applied for a grant through our local travel, tourism and convention bureau. Seth and I (neatly) filled out the application for a grant for $2,400 for an Ohio historical marker for Good Hope Cemetery. We even hand delivered it to the main man in charge at the bureau, Mr. Roger Blackburn.

Here are just some of the things we have learned in the process:

- In our county, funding for historical markers comes from a motel tax, and all decisions are made through a board process in which six members represent the different areas where the tax is collected.

- Funding can be considered for anything related to travel or recreation in our county.

- Most counties and communities throughout the country have programs like ours in which everyday people can get involved.

With the paperwork submitted, we must now wait for the board review, which we hear could take up to one month. Sure, I’m anxious to know if we are successful, but in the end, I know that trying was better than not doing anything at all.

- Jeremy M.

Jeremy M. is a senior at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. This semester, he’ll be working with his Research History classmates to document and preserve 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.

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.

Wilderness Wal-Mart Update: “Battlefields can’t be moved. Big boxes can.”

Posted on: February 24th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

What’s at Risk?

Wilderness Battlefield is one of the nation’s most important Civil War battlefields. It is designated as a Priority 1, Class A battlefield by Congress’ blue-ribbon Civil War Sites Advisory Commission.

However, construction of Wal-Mart’s massive Superstore would irrevocably harm the battlefield and degrade the visitor’s experience of the National Park. It also would open the flood gates for large-scale commercial development of this highly significant historic landscape. And yet, Wal-Mart decision makers stubbornly refuse to acknowledge that Wilderness Battlefield matters to the American people.

To raise the alarm, the Vermont Legislature recently passed a joint resolution asking property owners and elected officials in Orange County, Virginia, to protect the historic battlefield. On February 19th, the Fredericksburg Free Lance-Star published an editorial in response to the Vermont Legislature’s resolution which concludes:

“No one dismisses Orange County’s need for revenue or Wal-Mart’s right to grow. But must the store occupy historic ground? As the Vermont resolution says, ‘The story of the Battle of the Wilderness is one of valor for both armies that fought there.’ Now, will commerce recognize that and take a second seat? Battlefields can’t be moved. Big boxes can.”

Here is an update on the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s advocacy to save Wilderness Battlefield:

  • The National Trust is communicating directly with Wal-Mart corporate executives to ask Wal-Mart to relocate its planned Superstore. The National Trust and the Wilderness Battlefield Coalition also are talking to adjacent landowners who are preparing to intensively develop their property.
  • The Wilderness Battlefield Coalition and National Trust have offered to pay for a land-use planning study that would balance preservation of this irreplaceable historic site with sustainable economic development. We hope that the Orange County Board of Supervisors will accept our offer of technical assistance.
  • The National Trust and the Coalition are mobilizing concerned Americans to help preserve Wilderness Battlefield, including 800 members of the National Trust who live in Orange County, Virginia.
    But Time is Running Out.

The Orange County Planning Board is likely to hold a public hearing in March or April, 2009 to evaluate Wal-Mart’s project. Then, the Orange County Board of Supervisors may vote on the Superstore in May or June, 2009.

More than 5,000 members and friends of the National Trust for Historic Preservation have taken action to save the historic Civil War battlefield.

Please sign the National Trust’s petition to protect historic Wilderness Battlefield.

– Robert Nieweg

Robert Nieweg is the Director of the Southern Field Office of 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.

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.

Go Green with the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Posted on: February 23rd, 2009 by Sarah Heffern

 

The newest issue of Preservation magazine is our second annual "green" issue -- and it's chock-full of hints and tips that help save energy, save money and preserve homes. If you're a member of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, it should be in your mailbox any day now. (What? You're not a member? C'mon... join now!) We've supplemented it online with a host of great online extras, including the welcome video below from Editor-in-Chief James Schwartz.

While the historic preservation community has known for years that the greenest building is the one that already exists, not everyone is aware of that -- so we're making the connection even more clear with our new, green website. By which we mean that it is literally green in color... after all, we like a pun as much as the next bunch of folks.

So, swing by the magazine's page and take a look at all the great features in the March/April issue.

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.