I appeared along with representatives of the Preservation Resource Center and the Mid-City Neighborhood Association to testify before Councilwoman Stacy Head’s Housing and Human Needs Committee about proposed revisions to the ordinance governing the Housing Conservation District Review Committee (HCDRC)—which is to be rechristened the Neighborhood Conservation District Committee.

This is the committee which must consider demolition applications outside of the local historic districts, but within a portion of the city containing the National Register districts and other older neighborhoods. The ordinance is to be introduced at the January 24 City Council meeting. Several improvements are being made:

  • the number of community representatives is bumped up from two to five, so that each of the council districts can be represented;
  • the department of safety and permits will not sit on the committee, but rather serve as staff assigned to the committee;
  • all National Register districts will be under this committee—including those which could be added in the future;
  • the meetings will move to the City Council chambers allowing the meetings to be seen on cable access;
  • anyone aggrieved by a decision of the committee will now be able to appeal the decision to the City Council (currently, only the applicant may appeal); and
  • the troublesome “70 percent rule” will be eliminated.

... 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.

Students Take on Neighborhood Sustainability and Preservation

Posted on: January 24th, 2008 by Patrice Frey

 

The National Trust and the University of Pennsylvania’s program in historic preservation (my alma mater!) are partnering to offer a Seminar on Sustainability, Planning and Historic Preservation. The class met for the first time last Wednesday – we started out with a great conversation about how the concept of “sustainable development” emerged and has evolved over the last 20 years or so.

The class project is focused on LEED for Neighborhood Development standards, which have been released by the US Green Building Council. I think this marks an important shift for the USGBC – away from the one-dimensional focus on the environmental aspects of building – to thinking more holistically about the components of a sustainable community, including the social dimensions.

LEED-ND is in its pilot phase, which provides a fantastic opportunity to take the standards for a test drive. Students will apply LEED-ND to several different neighborhood typologies, including historic neighborhoods in urban neighborhoods and close-in suburbs. The process should inform our understanding of the sustainable characteristics of historic neighborhood -- i.e. what can we learn about different types of historic neighborhood when we evaluate them in a systematic way using sustainability criteria? At the same time, evaluating historic neighborhoods will also inform our understanding of these new sustainability standards -- i.e. what can historic neighborhoods teach us about sustainability and LEED for Neighborhood Development?

My colleague Rhonda Sincavage from State and Local Policy and I will be co-teaching the course along with Randall Mason, an Associate Professor in Penn’s historic preservation program. We’re thrilled that 20 or so students are enrolled – and that there is such a strong interest in this subject among students.

Check out the course blog at hspvcpln742.blogspot.com. Students have posted entries this week with their response to National Trust President Richard Moe’s speech on the sustainability-preservation nexus. Their posts provide some great food for thought. You can see Richard Moe’s speech on sustainability and preservation at www.nationaltrust.org/Magazine/current/moe.htm.

Look forward to more posts on the class blog in the coming weeks.

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 Park Service Moves Toward Nominating UNESCO World Heritage Sites

Posted on: January 23rd, 2008 by Margaret Foster

 

The United States has 20 UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and that number hasn't increased in 13 years. But that's about to change, thanks to the National Park Service, which yesterday announced the formation of a "tentative list" of 14 sites it wants to nominate as World Heritage Sites, the world's highest distinction.

"It's kind of like the Nobel Prize," says Stephen Morris, National Park Service spokesman. "It's huge."

Although UNESCO designated Waterton Glacier International Peace Park in 1995, the park service hasn't compiled a list like this in nearly three decades. Places must be on a "tentative list" for at least a year before countries can nominate them—but only two per year—to the international list, which provides prestige but little protection. (Current sites include Mesa Verde, Yellowstone National Park, and Independence Hall.)... 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.

Wall of Roosevelt Island's Smallpox Hospital Collapses

Posted on: January 22nd, 2008 by Margaret Foster

 

Smallpox HospitalAbandoned since the 1950s, a hospital built on New York City's Roosevelt Island in 1856 is falling apart.

Last month, the north wall of the smallpox hospital partially collapsed, forcing groups that are trying to create a park on the island to come up with an emergency plan to stabilize the building.

"It's really in bad shape," says Judith Berdy, president of the Roosevelt Island Historical Society, "The brick interior walls are coming away from the stone. If nothing is done in the next few months, that whole wing will just come down."

All of Roosevelt Island's six historic buildings have been restored except the hospital, designed by James Renwick Jr., the architect of St. Patrick's Cathedral. The collapsed wall is located in a wing that was built in 1905. ... 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.

Farnsworth House Featured in Kenny Chesney Music Video

Posted on: January 18th, 2008 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Country music star Kenny Chesney features Farnsworth House, a National Trust Historic Site in Illinois, in his video, “Don’t Blink.” Although not identified, it represents the home of a family whose fast living jeopardizes the enjoyment of everyday life (the oft-repeated lyrics “One hundred years goes faster than you think” and “Life goes faster than you think” suggests a potential historic preservation message). Over the past four months, this music video has been viewed nearly one million times, giving tremendous (but anonymous) exposure to a National Trust Historic Site.

-- Max van Balgooy

Max van Balgooy is the director of interpretation and education for National Trust Historic Sites.

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.