Notes from New Orleans: Modernism at Risk

Posted on: February 4th, 2008 by Walter Gallas 2 Comments

 

Former State Supreme Court Building, New OrleansI participated in another Section 106 consultation meeting about two state-owned buildings in downtown New Orleans near City Hall, which the state proposes to demolish and replace with a new state office building. Both are 1950s era buildings—one served as an office building until Katrina; the other as the State Supreme Court until the Court’s move to the French Quarter in 2004. The state has no intention of saving either building. I would like to keep pushing for them to try to incorporate the Supreme Court building in the plan somehow, but this probably won’t happen. State facilities planning officials are miffed that they need to go through this consultation.

Louisiana State Office Building (left), New OrleansA locally organized group of DOCOMOMO, the international movement to save and document modernist buildings, submitted a plea to save the buildings, and we are hoping they might come in as a consulting party. Some next steps include having a conservator examine a mosaic tile mural in the Supreme Court building to see how it is attached to the walls and what it would take to move it. The state hadn’t even bothered to determine who the artist was or get any documentation about its likely significance. Mostly the state facilities people complained about how difficult and expensive it would be to save and reuse the richer materials of the Supreme Court, such as its wood paneling and marble.

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.

Arson Destroys Massachusetts House

Posted on: February 4th, 2008 by Preservation magazine

 

New Bedford, Mass.Abandoned for more than a decade, plans for renovation of a Queen Anne-style house built in the mid-1880s in New Bedford, Mass., were finally in place when it succumbed to a fire last month. It was used as a dormitory for the Swain School of Design and later by the University of Massachusetts. After falling into disrepair for 10 years, the city acquired it, and in keeping with its interest in preservation, the property was to be turned over to the Waterfront Historic Area League.

"It was a poster child for vacant and abandoned properties in New Bedford," says Lisa Sughrue, the league's executive director. "Its restoration," she adds, "would have been a catalyst for change and progress in that neighborhood."... 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.

Notes from New Orleans: The State of Historic Preservation

Posted on: January 31st, 2008 by Walter Gallas

 

Last week, New Orleans played host to the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Board of Trustees. I had an opportunity to talk to them about some of the successes and challenges of our work. I've posted the text of my remarks below.

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Welcome to New Orleans. Whether this is your first visit or a return visit, you will probably agree that this remains a distinctive city—a city apart in so many ways, capable of inspiring a fierce loyalty and determination from those who were born and raised here—but also from those who come here from somewhere else and are pulled into its powerful orbit.

You’ve already seen and heard a lot about the city and our work here, I know, but I want to just quickly fill in a few more details on the advocacy side.

We started out, as Peter Brink, Dick Moe, and Kevin Mercadel told you, essentially working to save one house at a time, figuring if you can show you can save one, you can save many, many more.

Here, after the disaster, when FEMA entered the picture as the agency paying the tab on so much of the recovery, we had another legal hook to try to help us do that—the federally-mandated Section 106 consultation process. Whenever you have federal involvement of any kind (money, licensing, construction) and resources that are listed—or are eligible for listing—in the National Register of Historic Places, Section 106 consultation must take place, according to the National Historic Preservation Act. It grew out of national concern by the 1960’s that federal projects—like the National Defense Highway System and urban renewal projects were tearing the heart out of the older neighborhoods of our cities and towns.

... 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.

NYC To Clone Historic Trees

Posted on: January 31st, 2008 by Preservation magazine

 

Central ParkOn a clear September day in 1776, smoke rose from lower Manhattan as the British advanced into the city. From his headquarters on the Morris-Jumel estate, Gen. George Washington may have paused in the shade of a young elm tree to take in the scene.

Today, that tree still stands in what is now Washington Heights, though at about 110 feet tall and almost six feet in diameter, it is doubtful that Washington would recognize it. Affectionately known by locals as "the dinosaur," this living witness to those events 230 years ago it is now one of 25 trees in New York City that will be preserved—through cloning.

As part of Mayor Bloomberg's campaign to plant one million trees in the city in the next decade, Connecticut-based Bartlett Tree Experts is donating 250 trees to the city, all genetic copies of historic trees found in the city's five boroughs. Cuttings from the trees were taken earlier this month and sent to an Oregon nursery, where they will be grafted onto roots to create "clones" that will be planted throughout the city. ... 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.

Existing Buildings Get Their Due

Posted on: January 30th, 2008 by Patrice Frey

 

A newsy item over the weekend that I’m remiss in not posting before now.

If you haven’t seen it already, check out the New York Times article from Sunday Green Buildings Don’t Have to be New (surprise!). Article notes that the “vast stock of older buildings presents a much bigger opportunity [than new construction] to cut down on energy consumption and carbon emissions that contribute to the warming of the planet."

With the Clinton Climate Initiative lining up behind greening the existing building stock and the U.S. Green Building Council renewing their efforts to address existing buildings in an improved version of LEED-EB, maybe times are looking better for our existing building stock.

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.