Notes from New Orleans: Proposed Civil Rights Museum Burns

Posted on: October 2nd, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Fire damage to the vacant public school in Central City.

Fire damage to the vacant public school in Central City.

In mid-September, a fire damaged a vacant public school on O.C. Haley Blvd. in Central City, one of the four urban Main Streets in New Orleans. Early declarations by Fire Department investigators paint the building as unsalvageable, but all the data isn’t in.

The building had been planned as the locale for a state-sponsored civil rights museum for years. The building dates to 1910 and has been most recently known as Mrytle Banks School, for a long-time Central City educator. With its ties to the early civil rights movement in the South, O.C. Haley, named for a local activist was the center to a thriving African-American shopping district in the days of segregation. Boycotts of the white-owned stores on the strip by its black customers lead to early reforms.

State Senator Cheryl Gray says the plans for a civil rights museum at the site will move forward with or without the school structure which has been vacant since 1994.

Fire damage to the vacant public school in Central City.

Fire damage to the vacant public school in Central City.

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.

A "Prairie Cathedral" is Barn Again in Oklahoma

Posted on: October 1st, 2008 by Guest Writer

 

The famous rock barn of North-Central Oklahoma.

The famous rock barn of North-Central Oklahoma.

North-central Oklahoma is not particularly known for rock structures, although a few dot the downtown districts of the area. So rock barns are even less common, and when they grow to massive proportions - well, there's just one!

A few years ago, though, there were just about none.

Along highway 177, that splits the prairie in two from Stillwater to Chilocco Indian School, there are two structures that can be seen for miles. The OG&E Power plant and the 'rock barn'.

At first sight, usually from the exit of the interstate south of the barn, you can tell it is big. But, the distance makes it impossible to really make out its real size. You keep driving and glancing towards it as you travel north, and realize that you aren't quite to it yet, and it looks bigger and bigger the closer you get. When you finally approach it, you start to doubt yourself; it really doesn’t look that big after all. But that is because you are still not right in front of it, staring upwards at the peak of the gambrel roof, which seems to be as high as the clouds.

A landmark like that, standing against the wind and storms of the prairie, is something that everyone in the area knows about. In Ponca City, 20 miles away more or less, a conversation goes like this: "Well, some Colorado investors what to tear down that old rock barn, you know, on the highway to Stillwater"... "THAT one?".... "Yeah, they think that the rafters and stone might be valuable to build some of those fancy mountain 'cabins'"..... "they can't do that!"

... Read More →

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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.

Preservation + Direct Democracy = San Francisco's Prop J

Posted on: October 1st, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

No doubt some of you live in states that still embrace old-fashioned notions of representative democracy: you know, that’s where citizens elect officials to represent their interests when making public policy decisions. Then there are the rest of us. We live in states, mostly in the West, where we figure, hey, why not cut out the middleman and legislate ourselves?

Before I venture too far afield (I feel a rant coming on), allow me to state for the record, loud and clear: “People of San Francisco, vote ‘Yes’ on J!” More on that below.

Funny thing: direct democracy turns out to be pretty hard work. Take San Francisco, where I live. In 2004 -- we tend to get especially animated about propositions in presidential election years -- California voters were asked to consider 17 measures. The California Official Voter Information Guide ran 168 pages (so much for our carbon emission goals). As if that wasn’t enough paper to chew through, that year there was also a Supplemental Voter Information Guide for two measures that were placed on the ballot too late for the regular Voter Information Guide (that was pretty slim volume -- just 24 pages).

That’s just the state. San Franciscans voted on an additional 28 measures. The City of San Francisco’s Official VoterPamphlet,” weighed in at 196 pages (pity the postal person). Nothing like tucking into 388 pages of electoral prose before pulling the metaphorical lever.

... 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.

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.

Hurricane Ike – Galveston Slideshow

Posted on: September 30th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

For updates on Galveston and the damage caused by Hurricane Ike, visit out web page for reports from the city, audio clips, press releases and information on what you can do to help.

Slideshow compiled by Hannah Smith, Statewide and Local Partners, National Trust for Historic Preservation

Photos by Weez Doherty and Robert Mihovil

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.

Not Your Typical Architecture Patron

Posted on: September 29th, 2008 by Dolores McDonagh 1 Comment

 

Living room of the Pope-Leighey House, a National Trust Historic Site. Photo by Ron Blunt.

Living room of the Pope-Leighey House, a National Trust Historic Site. Photo by Ron Blunt.

I know as VP of Membership for the National Trust for Historic Preservation I shouldn't have favorites among our historic sites. And I love them all for different reasons. But I can't help but have a major soft spot in my heart for the Pope-Leighey House on the grounds of Woodlawn Plantation in Alexandria, Virginia. That's why the obits took me back a little this weekend when I read that Loren Pope had passed away, the man who commissioned the Usonian jewel of a house the National Trust for Historic Preservation rescued in the 1960s when it was slated to be demolished for Interstate 66 through suburban Virginia.

Now many of us think of Frank Lloyd Wright homes as iconic, groundbreaking, beautiful. But rarely are they ever thought of as "affordable." But that's just what Loren Pope's home was -- part of FFLW's vision for "Usonian" architecture -- utopian housing for the "common man." I've heard Mr. Pope tell his story about how as a young DC journalist he wrote FFLW and asked him to design him a home within his modest budget. And how, rather than scoff at him, Wright accepted the challenge and answered "Of course I am ready to give you a house." (Of course it came in over budget, but it was still a bargain.)

I've always loved the Pope-Leighey House -- the way it sits in nature, the way you immediately feel welcome and embraced when you enter this modest home. And I've often thought it said volumes about Frank Lloyd Wright. But until today, I never really thought much about what it said about Loren Pope. The next time I visit, I will think about Loren Pope and what he taught us through his bold act to commission this masterpiece.

Don't be afraid to be bold. Don't be afraid to ask for what you want -- you might just get it. Patronize the arts -- you don't have to pay a zillion dollars to bring beauty into your life. And don't let anyone tell you to settle for less because you are looking for "affordable" housing. We ALL deserve homes, neighborhoods and communities that enrich our lives, even if we're not Wall Street magnates with golden parachutes.

Thanks, Mr. Pope.

I'll leave the obituary to the Washington Post, but I will pass along that you can learn how to visit the Pope-Leighey House (the only FFLW home open to the public in the DC metro area, and yes (National Trust for Historic Preservation Members DO get free admission) by visiting our Pope-Leighey site on PreservationNation.

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.