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.

Historic Denny's in Seattle?

Posted on: January 30th, 2008 by Preservation magazine

 

SeattleIt may look like a boarded-up fast-food restaurant, but fans of a Denny's restaurant in northwest Seattle want to make it a landmark.

Complete with a swooping roof, large glass windows, and a futuristic flair, this particular Denny's is characterized as Googie, a bold, post-World War II architectural style that first became popular in Los Angeles. Architect Clarence Mayhew designed the building in 1964 as a Manning's Cafeteria restaurant, which went out of business and became a Denny's in 1983. Although the structure is now boarded up, it remains one of Seattle's few remaining examples of Googie architecture.

Benaroya Companies, a real-estate development company that bought the structure in 2006 from the Seattle Monorail Project is currently in close negotiations with Rhapsody Partners, a Kirkland-based development firm that wants to construct a condominium tower on the site.

However, Rhapsody's condo plans have been temporarily sidetracked. Earlier this month, Benaroya nominated the Denny's for landmark status.... 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.

 

I’m happy to report that, on January 29th, President Bush signed into law a temporary reprieve for the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, which federal officials want to replace with a replica because of repairable cosmetic imperfections.

Thanks to the advocacy of 4,000 National Trust for Historic Preservation members and friends who asked Congress and the Army to repair rather than replace the authentic Tomb, Senators Daniel Akaka and Jim Webb successfully amended the Defense Authorization Bill to include a measure that will delay hasty action, mandate a new meaningful study, and require a report to Congress.

The historic monument is not safe, but now preservationists have a real opportunity to reverse the Army’s decision.

The Defense Authorization Bill requires the Secretary of the Army and the Secretary of Veterans Affairs to report to Congress within 180 days to:

  1. Describe the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs’ current plan to replace and dispose of the 1932 Tomb Monument;
  2. Assess the feasibility and advisability of repairing the Tomb Monument;
  3. Describe the current efforts (if any) to maintain and preserve the Tomb Monument;
  4. Explain why no attempt has been made since 1989 to repair the Tomb Monument;
  5. Provide a comprehensive comparison (for the first time) of the cost of replacing versus the cost of repairing the Tomb Monument; and,
  6. Assess the structural integrity of the Tomb Monument.

Since April 2007, when we learned of the plan to replace the monument, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s president Richard Moe has lobbied key members of Congress as well as the Army and Department of Veterans Affairs.

We’re also very pleased that the Arlington County government, Arlington Heritage Alliance, APVA – Preservation Virginia, American Institute for Conservation, Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, and Virginia Department of Historic Resources each support repairing the cracks in the 1932 marble monument – rather than replacing the authentic monument.

-- Rob Nieweg

Robert Nieweg is the director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Southern Field Office

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.