My Historic Washington: Takoma

Posted on: January 12th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 2 Comments

 

Our farmers' market, where we shop for fresh produce along side of Fox Man and the Purple People.

Our farmers' market, where we shop for fresh produce along side of Fox Man and the Purple People.

Confession: My husband likes to ride a unicycle, and I have amassed a large collection of strollers on the front porch of our 1913 bungalow. But in Takoma, located at the top of the diamond-shaped Washington, D.C., we’re hardly the most eccentric neighbors on the block.

Takoma - with its vegetarian restaurants, thrift shops, well-tended old houses and streets named for trees - seems far removed from the power corridor of downtown Washington, D.C., but it’s only 15 minutes away by subway.

In the 1960s and ‘70s, Vietnam War protesters settled in the area, painting its houses bright, unconventional colors like orange and lime green. Some of those hippies never left. Visit the farmers’ market on Sunday - which just marked its 25th year - and you’ll see regulars like a bearded man carrying a fox pelt in a trap as a form of protest against animal cruelty. We call him the Fox Man. And then there's the Purple People, a family who wear dark purple robes, live in a purple house and drive a purple Mini Cooper.

There are mainstream people here, too. People like my husband and I, who moved out of a downtown apartment to a house with transom windows and a porch swing. A laid-back, anything-goes spirit trickles down to Takoma’s architecture - Victorian houses without modern additions, bungalows painted day-glo yellow, and yes, a few unicycles and strollers on those front porches.

Everyone is welcome here. For this reason and so many more, historic Takoma is my Washington. If you make your way to D.C. for the inauguration, I invite you to come see a side of the city that is as far from K Street as you can get.

– Margaret Foster

Margaret Foster is the online editor for Preservation magazine. Stay tuned leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater D.C. area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

 

Lake Michigan's Stonehenge: "While there is obviously some doubt as to whether or not that really is a mastodon carved on a rock – let alone if it really was human activity that arranged some of the rocks into a Stonehenge-like circle – it's worth pointing out that Michigan does already have petroglyph sites and even standing stones." [BLDGBLOG]

How Green is My Historic Site?: Ever wonder how can sustainable building practices be applied to the maintenance and upkeep of historic sites? Max van Balgooy has some answers. [National Trust Historic Sites]

Liverpool as Culture Capital: "Liverpool has much in common with Glasgow, the last UK city to be designated a Capital of Culture: its post-industrial decline, its mix of creative, bourgeois and proletarian culture, its history of radicalism and capitalism, and its harsh chippiness. But it is also, like Glasgow, a city of wonderful architecture, long neglected, often isolated and under-appreciated. The architecture of commerce, the docks, the warehouses, the offices and chambers, taken with the city’s unique pair of cathedrals, the delicacy and harmony of the Georgian terraces and the brash confidence of postwar planning, make it one of Britain’s most architecturally compelling and diverse cities." [Financial Times]

Life after Steel in Pittsburgh: Pittsburgh as a model for post-industrial cities. [New York Times]

Give a Lincoln for Lincoln: President Lincoln's Cottage is serving as one of six historic sites that will benefit from the History Channel's campaign. [President Lincoln's Cottage]

Schools and Sustainability: Time Tells looks at the preservation of schools, and how local planning and zoning laws often do not apply. [Time Tells]

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.

My Historic Washington: Capitol Hill

Posted on: January 9th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

When I was looking for someplace to live in DC, I selected Capitol Hill for the most mundane of reasons: it seemed to be the only neighborhood where I could park my car without buying a space. As a twenty-something non-profit worker, the idea of paying nearly the equivalent of my recently-satisfied car loan to board my car seemed ludicrous (not to mention impossible when combined with city-priced rent).  Now, nearly ten years later, the car is long since gone, but I've stayed put on the Hill -- and can hardly conceive of living anywhere else.

Eastern Market was the first thing to draw me in, and I fell quickly and permanently in love with it. The 135-year old public market building is the last of its kind in DC still performing its original function, but it is also much more than just a place to shop. In addition to providing a home for independent grocers (selling produce, meats, baked goods, fish, cheese, flowers, and more) a thriving, year-round farm line and flea market brings together locals and tourists alike every weekend -- forming what is, essentially, Capitol Hill's town square. I realize that sounds hokey, but it's true. I can't begin to count the number of times a quick outing to pick up my weekly ration of fresh tomatoes has spun out into a full day of browsing the vendors, chatting over coffee, and catching up on what's new.

I'm also wildly enthusiastic about my local hardware store, Frager's. It's a little like shopping in my grandfather's basement -- full of wood and tools, to be sure, but also full of every random tidbit that life requires, stored with a mysterious logic that makes every aisle and turn of the corner an opportunity for serendipitous discovery. Despite a rabbit warren-like layout, every person who works there can almost instantly locate virtually anything, and advise authoritatively on its use, just like grandpa. On the rare occasions I go outside my neighborhood to meet my home improvement needs and end up in a big-box hardware store, I tend to wander the broad aisles aimlessly, overwhelmed by the sheer enormity of it all.

And then there's the food. I love to eat, and over the years I've lived there, the options on the Hill have expanded, seemingly exponentially. The two commercial strips that anchored the Hill when I arrived -- Pennsylvania Avenue near the Capitol and Massachusetts Avenue near Union Station have been joined by the now-vibrant Barracks Row Main Street, and grittier upstart areas on H Street and the far end of Pennsylvania Avenue. I can head to an ultra-homey dive for a half-smoke (DC's local improvement on the hot dog) and a beer served in a mason jar, hit a hole in the wall with mussels so delicious that they beat Bobby Flay's on his "Throwdown" program, or head to an upscale wine bar (or two) for tastings and tapas.  It's a good thing, really, that my car has gone by the wayside... I need to walk a lot to keep all of the deliciousness from sticking.

These are just a few of the reasons Capitol Hill is my Washington. If you happen to make it to DC for the inauguration -- or any other time -- I invite you to stop by, whether it's for a quick bite to eat, to hang out at the Market, or to waltz the aisles of a hardware store.

My colleague Jason Clement, who shared his love of Brookland earlier this week, stopped by my 'hood over the holidays and took some photos. He's a better photographer than I am, so I'll leave you with his impressions.

-- Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the content manager and online editor for PreservationNation.org. Stay tuned over the weeks leading up to the inauguration as more National Trust staffers share their stories about the greater DC area. Coming to town for the historic event? Be sure to visit our new Preservationist’s Guide to Washington.

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.

SurveyLA Looks to the Past to Preserve Los Angeles' Future

Posted on: January 9th, 2009 by Sarah Heffern

 

The Los Angeles Conservancy, one of our local partners in Southern California, has undertaken is working with the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources on an epic endeavor, a project known as SurveyLA, which will look at all of the historic resources in the city. This effort, the largest such initiative in the nation, is:

an unprecedented, five-year citywide initiative to identify significant historic resources throughout Los Angeles - including ornate historic theaters, Modernist commercial buildings, exuberant Art Deco structures, Craftsman bungalow neighborhoods, and places that shaped our city's social history and its diverse communities. SurveyLA will engage Angelenos in identifying historic places that are worthy of recognition and protection.

As part of the project, the Conservancy has prepared three videos to explain the project and some of the prominient site being surveyed.  Architects, historians and preservation experts -- including the National Trust for Historic Preservation's own Anthea Hartig, director of our Western Office -- share stories about the cultural legacy of the architecture of Los Angeles.

Updated to reflect that the City of Los Angeles Office of Historic Resources is the lead on SurveyLA, not the Los Angeles Conservancy.

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.

Breaking News: A Dangerous Turn for St. Elizabeths Hospital

Posted on: January 8th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

In a dangerous turn for St. Elizabeths Hospital, the National Capital Planning Commission (NCPC) voted today to approve the General Services Administration's (GSA) master plan for the six-million-gross-square-foot Department of Homeland Security headquarters consolidation. It is a conditional approval: the National Park Service must turn over parkland for the access road and planning for the East Campus portion must be completed. GSA must also submit a funding request for the rehabilitation phases of the project before new construction can begin - although realistically, that funding may not be secured.

National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe testified on behalf of the organization that the master plan was premature and posed extraordinary harm to St. Elizabeths. Instead, he and others advocated a mixed-use, low-impact development with a federal anchor tenant that would preserve the site and benefit the neighborhood. Representatives from the Brookings Institution, the D.C. Preservation League, Alexander Company, and the National Coalition to Save Our Mall also testified in opposition to the consolidation proposal. Peter May, who represents the National Park Service on the NCPC, delivered a moving statement on behalf of the Department of the Interior in opposition to the plan.

In the end, the approval of the St. Elizabeths master plan sets a terrible precedent for America's National Historic Landmarks. These exceptional places are accorded special protection under federal law. In the case of St. Elizabeths, those protections were overlooked in favor of real estate considerations. Such a precedent could jeopardize our most important historic places.

Read National Trust for Historic Preservation President Richard Moe's testimony and the online version of an op-ed that appeared in today's Washington Post.

- Nell Ziehl

Nell Ziehl is a program officer for 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.