Rescuing an Icon, Part One

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by Barbara Campagna

 

A story of how a typical business trip turned into a tale of disaster management of national importance...

(Editor's Note: Originally written in August for her personal blog, Barbara Campagna has agreed to share the story of her experience at the Farnsworth House in Plano, IL, as the floodwaters from the Fox River approached.)

Thursday, August 23rd, 2007

The Farnsworth House, Plano, ILMy day began like many others since I joined the National Trust - board a plane for another city, actually leave and arrive on time (not the norm), rent a car and soon find myself driving out of a city and across the plains and sprawl of middle America. This time briefly passing through Chicago en route to Plano, Illinois, the location of one of the world's most famous and influential modernist icons - Mies van der Rohe's vacation home for Edith Farnsworth. I arrived on time at 1pm for a day of project review with the new Site Director, Whitney French.

It was sunny and humid, not unlike my home in Washington, DC. A week of massive rains in the Midwest had left the Fox River, next to which the Farnsworth House lies, full and rising. Thirteen inches of rain left spots of minor flooding on the 7 acres adjacent to the house, mostly evident along the quarter mile trail from the Visitor Center to the House. These patches caused the tour groups to detour to the house via a ride along Fox River Drive to the rear garage entrance - not the best scenario because the preferred trail brings the visitor up and around the house, giving you that "ah ha" moment when you come around a copse of trees and suddenly see the white steel and glass cube that changed the way architecture is made. But a rear entrance is preferable to no entrance - people literally come from around the world to pay homage to one of the 20th century's grandest yet simplest architectural gestures.

... 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.

Barbara Campagna

Barbara A. Campagna, FAIA, LEED AP BD+C was formerly the Graham Gund Architect of the National Trust in the Stewardship of Historic Sites office. She is currently a sustainability consultant to the National Trust and can be reached at bcampagna@bcampagna.com.

With Wildfires Almost Contained, California Assesses Damage

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation

 

Sikes Adobe

At least 10 people are dead, some of them burned in their homes, and more than 50 firefighters injured by the wildfires that started in Southern California on Oct. 21. About 2,000 firefighters are still containing two wildfires, according to the state department of forestry and fire protection, and 100 people remain in evacuation shelters. So far, more than 15 fires have destroyed 2,200 homes and at least a dozen historic structures, the agency says.

President Bush, who has declared a major disaster in nine California counties, toured the wreckage last week with Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger. More than half a million people in San Diego County were relocated in the state's largest evacuation.... 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.

Notes from the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: November 1st, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

The existing VA hospital, closed since Hurricane Katrina.Oktoberfest is a long-running tradition even in New Orleans, which retains a substantial number of descendants of the hard-working German immigrants who found New Orleans a friendly port in the storm of political turmoil in the 19th century. Today, New Orleans’ German culture is threatened again by the construction of a mega-complex envisioned for the Veterans Administration and the Louisiana State University medical system. It would replace is the 1940s-era hospital shown at right, which the Veterans Administration will abandon in favor of building a new facility possibly in the Mid-City National Register Historic District of New Orleans. This hospital has not been opened since Hurricane Katrina.

Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans.Deutsches Haus, today’s German cultural society in New Orleans, and a tattered but intact neighborhood are at ground-zero of the VA-LSU development. It is one of many buildings threatened by the city's plans. We will see how this all plays out, as federal and state forces couple with the city to carry out the 21st century version of urban renewal to clear neighborhoods for development.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans 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.

N.Y. Drive-In Razed for CVS, Bank

Posted on: October 29th, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

Annie’s by Rob YasinsacA classic drive-in restaurant with an American Graffiti look, Annie's Snack Shack in Stony Point, N.Y., was demolished earlier this month. A CVS and a bank will replace the 1951 building.

Annie Ciabattoni, whose family has owned the diner for the last 56 years, sold her 2.4-acre property to a Florida developer. On Sept. 11, the town board presented a plaque to Ciabattoni for her years in business. ... 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 the Field: New Orleans

Posted on: October 29th, 2007 by Walter Gallas

 

This is the interior of St. Frances Cabrini Church, a modernist church demolished to make way for Holy Cross School in the Gentilly neighborhood of New Orleans. A loss for preservation.Holy Cross School marked the symbolic start of construction of its school on Paris Avenue in Gentilly with Archbishop Alfred Hughes mixing the soils of the former and future sites in a pot containing a magnolia tree. The fact that the school chose to utilize the FEMA funds which were reparations for damage at the school’s historic site for new construction at a new site triggered Section 106 review, a provision of the National Historic Preservation Act.

St. Frances Cabrini Church, during its demolition in June to make way for Holy Cross School.Unfortunately, Holy Cross School could not conceive of using the modernist St. Frances Cabrini Church (which stood on the new site) as part of its plans, and so after a difficult Section 106 consultation with many political overtones, the church was demolished to prepare the site for new construction. It is ironic that the style of the new school attempts to mimic the campus which the school is abandoning in the Holy Cross neighborhood after over a hundred and fifty years. At the new school’s symbolic ground-breaking, Bill Chauvin, chairman of the school’s governing board, said “Today is an example of how difficulties can be overcome when we work together for a common goal… We hope that our journey will serve as a model for how the private sector and government can work together to facilitate recovery.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation attempted to force the utilization of St. Frances Cabrini Church in the school’s plans, but was rebuffed. The church was demolished in early June. This is not a model we want to replicate.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans 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.