Wholly Modern

Posted on: October 4th, 2007 by Sarah Heffern 1 Comment

 

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, MNI've always thought of myself as a modern, forward-thinking woman, except for when it comes to art and architecture, where I have always been something of a 19th-century girl. I used to think that Modernism was a little too sterile and stark for my taste, but over the past few years I have really grown to like it. I can't credit anything for this transformation beyond increased exposure, and the more I learned about mid-century design, the more my perception changed, and now I find it clean and calming--and beautiful. I'll never lose my affection for a fancy cornice, but I now feel similarly fond of simplicity.

I was, therefore, really looking forward to exploring Minneapolis on the tour I took Tuesday. On our way to downtown, we made a side trip to see a neighborhood church--though not a typical one by any stretch of the imagination. Nestled in the Longfellow neighborhood is Christ Church Lutheran, a Modernist masterpiece designed in 1949 by Eliel Saarinen with a 1962 addition by his son Eero. After we spent a few minutes exploring the exterior, built of Minnesota Kasota Stone, Pastor Kristine Carlson welcomed our group in the education wing created by the younger Saarinen and then led us into his father's final commission, the main church building.

Christ Church Lutheran, Minneapolis, MNOne of the first things I noticed was the amazing acoustics of the room; when I wandered to the front of the church to take photos, I could clearly hear Pastor Carlson as she continued speaking to the group. The warm browns and golds of the stone walls and wooden pews glowed in the gentle light shining in through the vertical windows. Even on a morning as cloudy as the one when we were there, it cascades gently through the room, creating a calming, spiritual space. I think one of my fellow tour attendees most accurately summed up the sanctuary when he said that it "conveys the infinite."

More information about the history and design of Christ Church Lutheran can be found here: www.christchurchluth.org.

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. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

It Comes Down to Dollars, Pesos, Euros, and Yen

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

National Trust staff member David Field models the shell lei from Guam.After spending much of the day yesterday in conference sessions focusing on the need to better market historic preservation to a broader audience, it seemed appropriate that I should encounter pure marketing genius here at the conference today.

Let me explain. This morning I was torn between two great-sounding educational sessions--a session on preservation in Asian and Pacific Islander communities or one on preservation commissions and green building issues. I was leaning toward the green issues session, if only because I thought that the Q&A portion would provide me a platform to spout my pro-solar and wind power views. (True to my Dutch heritage, I've never met a windmill I didn't like.) I
was actually waiting in line to gather handouts for the green session when I spotted a very white guy outside the API meeting room wearing decidedly un-white guy accessories. Curiosity got the better of me, and I ventured down the hall to check things out. It turned out that folks from Guam were greeting all the attendees at their session with seashell leis—sold!

The lei, of course, is more than a gift, it's a symbol, one that our colleagues from Guam asked that we wear for the whole conference; if anyone asks what's up, the answer is, "I've stepped outside of the comfort zone of traditional historic preservation." (Actually, it's really not so far outside my own comfort zone--I just need to guard against covetous attendees at tonight's GLBT reception--more on that tomorrow.)

... 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.

Power Trip

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by Margaret Foster 1 Comment

 

Southeast Heating Plant, MinneapolisIs it nerdy to care about renewable energy? Since I was wearing safety goggles and a canary-yellow hardhat a few hours ago, perhaps I’m not the best judge. I don’t understand words like biomass, but I like the idea of green anything, so this morning I tagged along on a hardhat tour of a 1905 power plant that—get this—heats most of downtown St. Paul with wood chips. Fifty truckloads a day of lawn trimmings, and boom: plenty of hot water, cold water, and heat all year long.

For the bargain price of $1, a power company bought the riverfront plant in the 1980s, hoping to provide heat and electricity to the adjacent downtown via 20 miles of pipe. Standing in the rattle and hum of the cathedral-like space, our group learned that we’re not the first to tour the grounds. ... 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.

Mrs. Bennett is Home at Last

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by Walter Gallas 1 Comment

 

A worker putting the finishing touches on the Bennett house this morning.It was nearly two years ago when we were first introduced to Mildred Bennett and her pink shotgun house on Dauphine Street in New Orleans’ Holy Cross neighborhood. Last Friday, Kevin Mercadel (the National Trust's field office program officer) and I met at the Bennett house for another walk-through of the house with the general contractor and Mrs. Bennett’s granddaughter, who has been steadfastly pushing this project to completion. With the construction materials removed from the rooms, the floors cleaned, and the ceiling fans operating in every room, the place began to feel like a someone’s home again. We have had many failed predictions in the past, but I am happy to report that Mrs. Bennett’s homecoming happened today.

Welcome home, Mrs. Bennett.

Walter Gallas is director of the New Orleans Field Office.

(Updated to replace photo.)

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.

St. Paul, City of Lights

Posted on: October 3rd, 2007 by Margaret Foster

 

St. Paul CathedralThere’s something about St. Paul that makes me feel like I’m in Paris. Maybe it was the rain blurring my vision, but driving the span between the dome of the 19th-century capitol and the deliberately taller dome of the Cathedral of St. Paul reminded me of a Parisian bridge. And then, take a left at the cathedral and head down the city’s grandest street, its residential Champs-Elysées, and wow, you forget all about Paris and just gape at those mansions. (Thursday night: Candlelight tour of Summit Avenue houses.)

I got a glimpse of Grand Avenue today—a friend told me not to miss it—and while I’d like to spend hours in the classic Main Street, with Restoration Hardware and Pottery Barn tucked neatly into early-20th-century brick storefronts, my credit card would prefer not to. I’ll spend my nickels at the farmer’s market in Lowertown, a funky, New Urban mecca in an 18-block historic district on the waterfront.

I admit to knowing little about St. Paul before I stepped off the very delayed plane other than the fact that it’s the hometown of F. Scott Fitzgerald, who left town and rarely returned, busying himself with revelry in Paris and all.... 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.