This Place Matters: PLT January 2009 Final Report

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


The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama.

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama.

There is a notion among those of us involved in the work of history that the buildings we fight to save, the landscapes that we honor, and the lives that we enshrine in our texts are a part of the very fabric of our national identity. No one building, landscape, or person tells just one story. Often times they serve as connective tissue linking individuals, communities, and events, and they also underscore that we all serve as protagonists in a larger, greater narratives extending beyond ourselves.

The Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge in Birmingham, Alabama represents one of these cases. It is not just the architectural styling that makes this building worthy of saving -- this is the place where many African-American citizens in Birmingham came together on a daily basis to get their teeth cleaned, buy ice cream or even attend a concert or two. It is a place which houses the headquarters for the Prince Hall Masons in Alabama. It is where Arthur Shores, a prominent African-American attorney worked with the NAACP legal defense fund to fight racial segregation in education and at the ballot box.

A detail of the Grand Lodge.

A detail of the Grand Lodge.

The Prince Hall Grand Lodge stands at the corner of the Fourth Avenue Historic District, steps away from Kelly Ingram Park and the Sixteenth Street Baptist Church. In this sense, it is also an integral part of the larger leaps that this country took to rectify the wrongs of segregation. As such, this building is the story of an individual, a community, and the nation.

As we have documented in earlier blog postings, for one week this past January, 35 preservationists from across the country came together for Preservation Leadership Training (PLT) to learn and work in one of the cities pivotal to America’s Civil Rights Movement. As with the 25 sessions of PLT before it, each participant left the week armed with new ideas, new goals, and a new network of co-preservationists across the country. With only one week available to them, they also worked hard to come up with creative solutions and ideas for the Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge. These ideas have been consolidated together in this final report. The Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. once stated that “Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter,” and so this PLT class of 2009 says with resounding confidence that this place matters.

-- Priya Chhaya

Priya Chhaya is the program assistant in the office of Training and Online Information Services at the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

The Birmingham PLT team.

The Birmingham PLT team.

This Preservation Leadership Training would not have been possible without the work of our strong local committee and the support of the Alabama Trust for Historic Preservation and Main Street Birmingham, Inc. In addition the program was made possible by the generous support of the The Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation, Inc., Alabama Power Company Foundation, Susan Mott Webb Charitable Trust, Alabama Department of Tourism, Southern Progress Corporation, Balch & Bingham LLP, Brookmont Realty Group LLC, Most Worshipful Prince Hall Grand Lodge, and Brown Chambless Architects

The deadline for applications for the next Preservation Leadership Training in Deadwood, South Dakota is March 31, 2009. To apply, or for more information on PLT, please visit our 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.

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.


Historic Google Earth: Google's mapping tools are among the coolest and most innovative on the web today. The folks at the Googleplex are at it again, this time updating their Google Earth tool to include historical images, allowing users to view how specific locations have changed over time. [Digital Urban]

Junk Boni: A "junk bonus" of about 2,500 Euro has been established in Germany in an effort to stimulate the nation's auto industry. Trade in your beat up old VW and get some cash that could go towards a more eco-friendly car. Sounds like a great idea, but hold on, does this compare at all to scrapping old "inefficient" buildings in order to build new "green" ones in their place? [anArchitecture]

Preservation Day at the Capitol: Is quickly approaching. Preservation Kentucky outlines the day's schedule. [Preservation Kentucky]

The Lincoln Bicentennial: Celebration continues as Jeffrey Larry, Preservation Manager at President Lincoln's Cottage, will discuss Lincoln’s life while residing at the Cottage and the architectural history of the building. If you're in the Baltimore area, be sure to check it out. [President Lincoln's Cottage Blog]

Levels of Sustainability: "...There are two sustainabilities and we are only thinking about one of them. We think about the material, but we don’t think about the economy. How do you make a sustainable economy based on sustainabile practices?" Vince Michael from Time Tells examines the affect of sustainable building practices on the economy. [TimeTells]

New Urban Rainforests: Are better than no rainforests at all? "Designed for the heart of Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, TROPICOOL @ KL envisions a series of self-sustaining mushroom skyscrapers that incorporate natural energy sources, rainwater harvesting, and bio-mass support for off-the-grid living in a truly green environment." [Inhabitat]

Artificial Hills of Berlin: In post-WWII Germany, with most of the men still occupied with other commitments, it was the women (nicknamed Trummerfrauen or "rubble women") who set to work cleaning the bombed-out streets. The rubble had to be put somewhere, and waste materials were often transported to outlying areas creating hills known as Schuttberg or Trummerberg. Over time, these hills of debris have been covered with grass and vegetation, rendering them indistinguishable from other, more "natural" landscape formations. [Pruned]

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.

25 Random Things About the National Trust for Historic Preservation

Posted on: February 6th, 2009 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 15 Comments


You may have heard about the "25 Random Things" meme that's making its way around Facebook these days -- but if you haven't, the New York Times, Washington Post, or Time magazine can fill you in on the latest craze in navel-gazing.

Since we have a page on Facebook, a few of us here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation decided to put our heads together and craft a list of random facts about this place where we spend so much of our time.  We're posting the list both here on the blog and on Facebook, though we're not actually sure Facebook will allow us to "tag" our partner organizations, as the rules require. So, in case we can't tag... Fellow preservation organizations, consider the gauntlet thrown down! Our list -- and the rules for playing along -- are below.

  1. We do an annual 11 Most Endangered list because the year we started it, we couldn’t narrow the list down to 10.
  2. The National Trust has given the same parting gift to its interns for the past two decades: “The History of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1963-1973.” You know, despite the fact that most of these interns were born after the book was published.
  3. Our congressional charter requires that our headquarters be in Washington, DC.
  4. The National Trust Library used to fit on one side of an office, but now has 18,000 volumes and is housed at the University of Maryland.
  5. Number of National Trust Historic Sites with bowling alleys: two (Lyndhurst and Montpelier).
  6. We have Main Street programs in a wide variety of places, including the home of US nuclear program (Los Alamos, New Mexico) and the home of Leinenkugel’s beer (Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin).
  7. The full legal name of our organization is the “National Trust for Historic Preservation in the United States.” We go with “National Trust for Historic Preservation” because that’s all that fits on our business cards.
  8. Our headquarters building once housed six luxury apartments, but now is filled with more than 200 staff. (So, were they really huge apartments or are we in tragically cramped offices?)
  9. The Main Street movement created 370,514 jobs between 1980 and 2007 -- so we’ll take Main Street over Wall Street any day!
  10. The Dixie Chicks played at the National Preservation Conference in Fort Worth in the mid-90s, before Natalie Maines joined the band (and, therefore, before they were famous).
  11. The Stanley Hotel in Estes Park, Colorado – a member of National Trust Historic Hotels of America – was Stephen King’s inspiration for “The Shining.”
  12. We invested $54,287,438 in historic properties last year in the form of grants, loans, and tax credits.
  13. Country music star Kenny Chesney featured the Farnsworth House, a National Trust Historic Site in Illinois, in his video, “Don’t Blink.”
  14. Staff on the fourth floor of our building sit in rooms that displayed part of the art collection Andrew Mellon (who lived on the fifth floor) donated to create the National Gallery of Art.
  15. On Thursday, our entire headquarters staff received the following email message: “does anyone have the big roll of bubble wrap? if so.. please bring it back to the mailroom… thanks…”
  16. More than 200 of our current and former staff and interns have profiles on Facebook. Among our current status updates:
    “…is at Tastee Diner. Yum!”
    “…is wishing Rick Astley a very happy birthday.”
    ‘…thinks that tomato soup makes for weird dreams.”
    “…is convinced that the same person who has been siphoning his salad dressing has now completely jacked his bottle of mustard from the breakroom fridge.”
  17. Despite what some of our moms think, our name isn’t, in fact, “National Historic Trust.”
  18. Number of National Trust Historic Sites with formal cemeteries: eight (six for people, two for pets).
  19. Average number of visitors to National Trust Historic Sites each year: 801,096.
  20. The Northeast Office regularly offers to take representation of either the US Virgin Islands or Puerto Rico off the Southern Office’s hands (just to help out, really)…no luck yet.
  21. The Westchester County Kennel Club Show is one of the most popular events held each year at the Lyndhurst Estate (a National Trust Historic Site) in Tarrytown, NY.
  22. Once upon a time, our logo featured an eagle, so to promote this, we briefly offered a friendly stuffed bald eagle named “Trusty” as a membership gift. Some lucky staff members hung onto a few irregular or remaindered Trustys. They are now a highly endangered and coveted species.
  23. Once and for all – the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Register of Historic Places are not the same thing – not even close.
  24. If you really want to see anyone on our staff fly into a righteous tirade, bring up the latest example of a perfectly reuseable and retrofittable historic building being torn down to clear space for a new “green” building.
  25. Filoli, a National Trust Historic Site in California, was the Carrington Mansion on Dynasty.

Share Rules:
Once you've been tagged, you are supposed to write a note with 25 random things, facts, habits, or goals about you. At the end, choose 25 people to be tagged. You have to tag the person who tagged you. If I tagged you, it's because I want to know more about you.

(To do this, go to "notes" under tabs on your profile page, paste these instructions in the body of the note, type your 25 random things, tag 25 people (in the right hand corner of the app) then click publish.)

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.

Teaching Preservation: What is Service Learning?

Posted on: February 6th, 2009 by Guest Writer



Notes from the Teacher's Desk

Many people are confused by the concept of service learning, probably because it sounds like a fancy way of saying something else. You know, like “hors d'oeuvre” versus “appetizer,” etc.

Well, as someone who has made a career out of it, I can promise you that it’s not.

First and foremost, service learning is not the same thing as community service. That’s a common misconception. Don’t get me wrong, both are excellent educational strategies (hence the reason why many states now require community service credits before students can graduate), but at the end of the day, they are two entirely different experiences.

After teaching my Research History course for several years, I came to know Ohio’s former First Lady, Mrs. Hope Taft. She was and still is one of the strongest advocates for what I’m doing in the classroom. I remember her telling me one day, “You know, what your students are doing is service learning.” I recall politely nodding my head and thinking to myself, “Sounds great, but what exactly is service learning?”

Before I knew it, Mrs. Taft had me in touch with a representative from Lions Quest, a well-known leader in service learning training that is a part of Lions Clubs International. They generously funded a trip for me to attend one of their training sessions in Knoxville. (So you know, the coincidence of traveling to the Volunteer State to brush up on service learning was certainly not lost on me.)

Here is what I took away from Tennessee: unlike community service projects where you show up, work and then go home, service learning projects have several distinct stages or parts, including preparation, action, reflection, skills demonstration and celebration. It’s a fusion between volunteerism, instruction and reflection. For students, the best possible service learning experience combines a project that fills an important need with the knowledge, skills and value goals from the classroom.

To learn more, I invite you all to visit the National Service-Learning Clearinghouse’s preservation website, where you’ll find helpful how-to information as well as a feature they did on one of my former class projects. And when you’re done poking around there, consider sharing the link (and our blog) with a teacher you know or sending it to school with your child.

As state budgets get smaller and smaller because of the economy, we all as preservationists need to think outside the box to determine how we’re going to do more with less. And to be honest, I can’t think of a better alternative than to get our nation’s teenagers off the couch and into the field as young stewards.

- Paul LaRue

Paul LaRue teaches Research History at Washington High School in Washington Court House, Ohio. The ultimate “hands-on” classroom experience, his course takes students into the field to learn about preservation and community service. Stay tuned this semester as Paul and his students document their project at Good Hope Cemetery here on our blog and on their Flickr photostream. Also, keep an eye out for future "Notes from the Teacher's Desk" columns from Paul himself.

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

Deal or No Deal? Just Don't Call it Recycling!

Posted on: February 6th, 2009 by Barbara Campagna


Two  million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

Two million cheer the inauguration on the Jumbotron in front of the Museum of Natural History. Saving buildings like the Capitol and the Smithsonian museums helps combat climate change.

My colleagues and I were discussing today how it could be possible for the Treasury Department to “overpay” by $76 billion for the TARP assets. One colleague likened it to “Deal or No Deal” -– here’s a suitcase with stuff in it, we don’t know how much, so let’s give the guy holding the suitcase a beautiful lady and $76 billion just to be sure! I started making a list of what kind of cultural assets, historic preservation and renewable energy projects could be funded with $76 billion (excluding any federal assets such as those managed by the Park Service, GSA and the BLM). It took a while and I could imagine a lot and even then I had about $25 billion left over. I know my Public Policy colleagues have been hard at work with other nonprofits and agencies lobbying for preservation and cultural assets in the stimulation package. Instead, I’d like to suggest to the administration that they just give the National Trust for Historic Preservation $75 billion, so rather than worrying about losing it again, we could make great, immediate use of the type of funding we rarely see in our little corner of the world, let alone manage to have, to protect our heritage and impact climate change at the same time. Because of course, as my good friend Carl Elefante, FAIA, coined, “the greenest building is the one that’s already been built.” If we even had $15 billion to conduct research, develop better glazing products, organic insulations and renewable energies and help people outright green their houses and residences, we’d probably make a bigger impact on cutting down greenhouse gas emissions than most of the suggestions out there combined.

Finding Out What All the Other Green Bloggers Are Saying

I started writing this blog to share some great recent postings that friends and people I admire have written on the topic, but got waylaid by the amazing article in the Times this morning. Although, everyone’s pretty much talking about the same thing these days – blogging or reporting on their thoughts for the stimulus packages and their hopes for the new administration. My “green” blogroll is filled with a variety of blogs – some are so scientific I’m lucky if I can understand the title (and yes, scientists do blog too!), some are just great reporting, some are inspiring or challenging. My blog last week described a recent posting by one of my favorite bloggers, Kaid Benfield. But there are a bunch of others also worth keeping your eye on – so if you’d like to spend a little time every day or so keeping up with the bloggers and just haven’t had the time to troll the internet, here are some suggestions:

... 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