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.

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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.

... 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.

Virtual Roadtrip

Posted on: October 14th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

The National Preservation Conference is just around the corner -- next week, in fact.  Join Jeff and Kelly of Vintage Roadside on Route 66 as they make their way to their exhibit booth at the conference in Tulsa, Oklahoma - they'll drive from Topock, Arizona to Tulsa in five days, blogging about their experiences en route. Their posts will appear in the sidebar of this blog all week as they travel across the Southwest.

Vintage Roadside produces screen printed t-shirts featuring authentic advertising images from mom-and-pop roadside businesses of the 1930s through early 1960s, and donates a portion of their sales to our work here at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, where, in 2007, we listed the motels of Route 66 on our annual list of 11 Most Endangered Places.

-- Susan Neumann & Lori Feinman

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.

 

It's Columbus Day: Long the hero of elementary school history lessons, the actions of the Genovese admiral have understandably come under closer scrutiny and criticism in the past few decades, following the rise and inclusion of the new social histories. While the destruction of people and culture that did result from European-Native interaction can not be justified, it's important to remember the words of Marc Bloch and his seminal work, The Historian's Craft: "What do I care for a historian's belated decision on [a] point? We should only beg him not to be so hypnotized by his own choice as to forget at the time another was possible." To summarize--historians make terrible judges. Comparing choices made by people from one time period to the next is an easy and understandable activity, but doing so, and acting like a "judge in Hades, charged with meting out praise or blame to dead heroes," fences our comprehension of history. Some Americans may celebrate the holiday, while others may consider it an imperialistic recognition of genocide. Either way, we have to remember that it is our responsibility to avoid simply passing judgment and instead unearth the facts and provide the clearest picture of the past as possible. Here's a few links to stories out there on Columbus Day. Enjoy the day off from work and school! (If you were lucky enough, that is)

Huffington Post - Story on Columbus Day Celebrations and Columbus Circle, NYC

American Creation - A religious history look at whether we should celebrate the holiday.

Tower Blog - Books on the subject.

Odd Wisconsin - Probably one of the smallest cities named after Columbus is in Wisconsin, with some cool info on the city.

Will Gulf Coast Communities Ever Be Safe From Hurricanes?: Coastal towns along the Bayou have been slammed by hurricanes in the past few years. Besides the destructive damage severe storms bring to buildings and their cities, the coastal wetlands and barrier islands of Louisiana are diminishing at an alarming rate. According to AlterNet.org, since the 1930's the region has lost 1,900 square miles of land--an area equivalent to the size of Delaware. Storms such as Rita, Katrina, Ike and Gustav have all contributed to the situation, which is proving extremely dangerous for the communities of Cajun and French-Indian people who call the areas home. [AlterNet]

Urban Sprawl and the Swiss Alps: It's many a man's dream to one day reside in a quaint, mountainside, alpine cabin--but at what cost? "The Swiss National Science Foundation study released on Wednesday revealed that since 1935 urban development has claimed as much of the Swiss landscape as it did during the previous 2,000 years." [swissinfo.ch]

19th Century Presidential Mudslinging: If only once I could turn on a presidential debate and hear one candidate label his opponent a scurvy knave or a dastardly charlatan. Lincoln's Cottage looks at documents from the 1860 election, where in a New York Tribune editorial, "the Republicans claimed the Democrats formed, 'the rendezvous of thieves, the home of parasites and bloodsuckers, the enemy of God and man, the stereotyped fraud, the sham, the hypocrite, the merciless marauder, and the outlaw renegade and malefactor.'" The democratic explanation of Lincoln's emigration to Illinois from the South is equally colorful. [President Lincoln's Cottage Blog]

The New Modernity: "Historic preservation is one result of the collision between tradition and modernity. As traditions and traditional things become obsolete, we desire to preserve them. It is an impulse with expressions as diverse as Mount Vernon and Farm Aid. The advent of “globalization” in the 1990s caused much hand-wringing, although historians and economists might argue that globalization is contemporaneous with modern capitalism, dating to the late 18th century creation of the joint-stock corporation. Preservation has similar roots and a similar timeline – it is a product of the Enlightenment." [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.