Helping Preserve Galveston’s History

Posted on: October 17th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

Members of the staff and board of the Galveston Historical Foundation in front of their offices in the 1861 Custom House, holding "This Place Matters" signs.

My visit to Galveston last week was bittersweet; on one hand, I was saddened by the enormous amount of damage Hurricane Ike inflicted on the city’s historic areas. But at the same time, I also saw first-hand the courageous response of Galvestonians to the storm, and the impressive progress in debris clean-up and remediation of damage that has already taken place.

I went to Galveston looking for additional ways in which the National Trust for Historic Preservation can partner with the Galveston Historical Foundation (GHF) on recovery efforts. For the past three years, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been working on the ground in New Orleans focusing on post-Katrina recovery, and that work has given us extensive insight into large-scale disaster response efforts. I traveled to New Orleans just a few weeks after Katrina struck in 2005, and as I walked through Galveston last week, comparisons to the New Orleans I saw then came to mind.

New Orleans’ historic neighborhoods generally looked much worse off less than four weeks after Katrina, though its most famous historic areas largely escaped flooding. There is always a danger after disasters that people seek the quick and wrong solution of demolishing still valuable structures. As I mentioned, I’m glad that Galvestonians seem focused on rehabilitation and returning to their properties. The leadership of Galveston’s city officials has been a great help.

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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.

 

US and international designers developed 13 different models for the Make it Right program.

US and international designers developed 13 different models for the Make it Right program.

Last Saturday I walked around the Lower 9th Ward marveling at the six "Make It Right" houses nearing completion on the formerly barren blocks of Tennessee and Deslonde Streets near the site of the devastating Industrial Canal floodwall failure in August 2005. The houses are bright, fresh, and optimistic, chosen by the owners from thirteen designs offered by U.S. and international architectural firms through a program conceived by actor Brad Pitt. Eventually 150 owners of the land in this area will have houses built through this program, which offers financing and support to ensure that even in today's unsettled market, the houses will remain in the family to be passed along as family homes had been before Katrina.

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.

 

Downtown Kalamazoo. (photo: Pamela Hall O'Connor)

Downtown Kalamazoo. (photo: Pamela Hall O'Connor)

Kalamazoo, Michigan's central business district is full of historic commercial buildings dating from the 1860s and later -- many of which are eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and local designation. But, key areas have eroded in character -- mostly due to demolition. The loss and potential loss of character-defining eligible buildings over the past two years pushed our Historic Preservation Commission to create a tool for developers, civic leaders, property owners and the public.

The result, a 20-page booklet titled: Where Place Prospers" is a one-stop-shop for information that demonstrates "how to do a deal" in Kalamazoo and wind up with a rehabilitated historic building that actually contributes to Kalamazoo's "Place" identity, rather than a parking lot or a work of architecture that looks lonely and out of place amongst its neighbors.

Where Place Prospers offers case studies that detail the whole lot of incentives available for building rehabilitation -- local, state and federal, and believe me, they're not just rehab. incentives -- they include obsolete property incentives, brownfield credits, etc. The basics are all there, and other Michigan communities can use it as a template and add their own communities' incentives.

The informational booklet is currently available as a PDF file and is also available from the Michigan Historic Preservation Network website (www.mhpn.org).

The Kalamazoo Historic Preservation Commission is grateful to the Midwest Office of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Michigan Historic Preservation Network who provided it with a $1,000.00 seed grant from the Michigan Preservation Fund to assist in the publication of Where Place Prospers. Without their assistance, this incredibly helpful tool would not exist for the benefit of Kalamazoo and other Michiganders.

-- Pamela Hall O'Connor

Pamela Hall O'Connor is the Immediate Past President of the Michigan Historic Preservation Network and Principal, Preservation Practices.

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Learn more about the work of the regional offices of the National Trust for Historic Preservation here. The Michigan Historic Preservation Network is a member of our Statewide and Local Partners program.

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.

Notes from New Orleans: Trustees Lend a Hand

Posted on: October 15th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

The group poses in front of the Bienvenue Street house.

The group poses in front of the Bienvenue Street house.

Trustees Mary Thompson and Kevin Daniels (pictured in first photo below) joined us with another dozen volunteers on St. Maurice and Bienvenue Streets in Holy Cross this past week to work on two houses acquired from the city by the Preservation Resource Center's Operation Comeback (OC). This is the second time that Kevin has organized and coordinated a group through his own efforts, drawing folks primarily from his Seattle backyard, but also from other parts of the country. The OC house which Daniels' group worked on in January is now complete and on the market.

The week was a hot one for the Northwesterners as they gutted the two houses, did some de-nailing of salvaged material, framed one wall of the Bienvenue house, and added a coat of paint to the St. Maurice house. Friday afternoon, the frail structure on Bienvenue began to fail, but was propped up. OC will have to take on the challenge from there, but the staff is determined to try saving this neglected piece of Holy Cross.

Lean more about our Gulf Coast recovery efforts here.

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.

Impressions on Galveston after Hurricane Ike

Posted on: October 14th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

In a modest response effort to assist the Galveston Historical Foundation with recovery efforts post-Hurricane Ike, I traveled to the area to lend a hand to our Local Partner. I wanted to see the damage firsthand and better understand the situation—both in terms of the state of historic resources and the condition of our Local Partner. By now, many images of Ike have been shared and several reports have come in from visitors. These are brief notes and observation from my trip on October 2-3.

Moving salvaged doors.

Moving salvaged doors.

My senses were a little on-edge as I drove to Galveston after flying into Houston Hobby Airport. It had been a couple of years since Hurricane Rita ravaged the Texas Gulf Coast, but it seemed so recent that my memory was spewing out fresh images of that storm. The first thing that struck me as I grew closer to the Island was the traffic. This was Houston-like traffic, but it was in the wrong direction and 35 miles south of Houston! It felt as if I’d been dropped into a huge contractors’ convention. Once I waded through the traffic and landed on Broadway, the next assault on my senses was the smell…like a big garbage dump. That’s understandable, though, because that’s what much of the Island is right now -- a big pile of fetid debris removed from the first floors of buildings after a thorough soaking by Hurricane Ike’s storm surge. What Ike didn’t blow away, he saturated with several feet of sea water and mud. The locals refer to it as “the nasty.” And it is. Finally, my eyes saw the true wrath of Ike -- block after block of historic resources were open to the elements -- trying to dry out. With carpet, drywall, furniture, appliances and memories all piled up on the street waiting their turn to add to the garbage pile. Galveston Island had turned into a big garbage scow.

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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.