From the Front Lines of Property Rights Battles

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Today in sunny Saint Paul, the National Trust Board of Advisors and a large group of fellow preservationists gathered to talk about "Property Rights Battles: Views from the Front Lines."

For those not familiar with the structure of the National Trust, the Board of Advisors is not the National Trust for Historic Preservation's governing board—that's the Board of Trustees. Instead, the Board of Advisors is a group of more than 100 volunteers who act as eyes and ears in places where the National Trust has no permanent staff presence and who complement and augment the knowledge, skills, and contacts of staff, offering always needed and frequently heeded counsel on emerging issues and trends.

Given their record of dynamism, it might seem odd that the advisors chose the theme of property rights for their sponsored session for the third year running. What's up with that? Hasn't this drum been beaten long enough? Judging from the sellout crowd, the answer is a resounding "no."

Of course, if, like me, you hail from the West, these battles are hard to ignore. A bit of background: In 2004, Oregon voters approved Measure 37, which essentially gutted Oregon's groundbreaking land-use protections that have been in place since 1973. Close on the heels of the Oregon fiasco, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision in Kelo v. New London in 2005.

At today's session, Dwight Merriam of Connecticut was able to add some local color to the Kelo story, including the stranger-than-fiction Christmas card that Mrs. Kelo sent out (cue scary movie music). As Mr. Merriam outlined, this case quickly became a cause celebre among private property rights advocates, who saw in Kelo the long arm of the law stretching way too close for comfort. They also saw an opportunity to push a much broader property-rights agenda.

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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.

Biking Through St. Paul History

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

St. Paul CathedralIt was a typical Foster moment. The bike tour was going well until my National Trust tote bag got stuck in my front tire. Wedged, really, so that the wheel wouldn’t budge. These things happen, and mostly they happen to me.

Our three-hour tour had started off innocuously enough: A bunch of us gathered in front of the clanging Cathedral of St. Paul, chose our rental bikes (somehow I ended up with a lavender Schwinn), and began cruising down Summit Avenue. Our tour guide, Mike Koop of the state historic preservation office, led the peloton, and, I’m sorry to admit, I frequently brought up the rear. Yes, in a group of thirty- to sixty-somethings, I was back there with our “sag wagon,” a white pickup poised to sweep up the wimps.

Our first stop was a Cass Gilbert-designed mansion, and, as our group was staring at it, a friendly Midwesterner (so redundant) came out and shouted, “Do you want to come in?” But we rode on, stopping at a park with a fountain designed by the sculptor who did the Rockefeller Center Prometheus, a church-turned-theater that the city had snatched from the jaws of demolition, and two colleges, where impossibly young kids flopped in the grass, studying in the October sun.... 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.

Good Work, Rewarded

Posted on: October 5th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

I spent part of yesterday evening in St. Paul's beautiful Fitzgerald Theater (where Garrison Keillor's "A Prairie Home Companion" is taped weekly), as the National Trust for Historic Preservation announced its annual Honor Awards.

I was amazed by the breadth of work honored, and found the presentations to be a fantastic way to see the many varied, unexpected ways that historic preservation touches people's lives.

Here are the winners:

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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class.

Preservation=Revitalization

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern

 

Details on the turret were uncovered during restoration this summer.Historic preservation has a little bit of an image problem. Most everyone knows the stereotype: little old ladies saving the dead white guy's mansion. And from Mount Vernon on down, preservationists have in fact saved more than a few abodes of the rich, famous, Anglo, and deceased.

It is important work, to be sure. Saving, maintaining, and sharing the places involved with major figures and events in American history has a great deal of value. But to think that this is all there is to historic preservation, however, would be to sell it short. Preservation has also become a critically important tool for community development and revitalization.

This type of work was the focus of the tour I took this morning, which was led by the staff of Historic Saint Paul. They showed us several in-process restorations in the Dayton's Bluff and Payne-Phelan areas of east St. Paul, where they are working with lower- and middle-income residents and immigrant communities to use historic preservation as the main tool for revitalizing their neighborhood. Their primary focus is exterior rehabilitation, to improve the streetscape and draw in further investment.
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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.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class.

Skating Around Plans To Raze Berkeley Ice Rink

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Preservation magazine

 

Berkeley Ice RinkLarger than an Olympic-sized rink and host to three national championships, the Berkeley Iceland Rink in Berkeley, Calif., is still on slippery ground, despite its new landmark status.

Owner Eastbay Iceland Inc. announced plans to close the facility in January. Plans to demolish the building and put up townhouses fell through, however, and the community took the opportunity to step up.

Naming itself after the rink, the nonprofit group Berkeley Iceland worked to get city landmark status for the building. Eastbay Iceland appealed the landmarking, but the city upheld the designation, and now a state landmark designation is in the works. ... 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.