A Letter from Lupita: Why Shockoe Bottom Deserves — and Demands — Protection

Posted on: January 15th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 4 Comments

 

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Written by Erica Stewart, Manager, Public Affairs

Shockoe Bottom in downtown Richmond, Virginia, was once the second-largest slave trading site in the country. Today, it is mostly a patchwork of vacant lots and surface parking.

This is no way to treat the land on which men, women and children were bought, sold, and tortured. Neither is building a major league ballpark upon it, which is exactly what Richmond Mayor Dwight C. Jones is proposing in his “Revitalize RVA” plan.

This threat prompted us to list Shockoe Bottom to 2014’s list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and also to name it to our portfolio of National Treasures. We are now working with Preservation Virginia, local leaders, and national experts to shape an alternative development plan that would excavate the archeological remains that lie beneath the ballpark site and uplift Shockoe Bottom as a place for reflection, healing, and learning. (Read more about the project in this previous post.)

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Our work caught the attention of actress Lupita Nyong’o, who won an Academy Award for her portrayal of Patsey in the film “12 Years a Slave,” based on the memoir of free man-turned-slave Solomon Northrup. She was moved to write a passionate hand-written letter to the mayor, expressing her desire to see Shockoe Bottom preserved as a site of conscience. Here’s what she had to say.... 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.

 

Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson purchased and began restoring the 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana after returning from Iraq in the summer of 2011.
Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson purchased and began restoring the 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana, after returning from Iraq in the summer of 2011.

In the winter issue of Preservation magazine, we highlight the story of Lt. Col. (Ret.) Porter Johnson, who was bitten by the preservation bug while serving in Baghdad from 2010-2011. After returning home, Johnson set to work restoring an 1850 plantation house in his hometown of Tallulah, Louisiana.

Johnson was one of the best and most enthusiastic interviews I had all year, and I wish I could have made more of his story fit on the page. Luckily for me -- and for you -- I get the chance to publish more of his unique story below.... 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.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

All in the Family: What Oatlands Means to the People Who Grew Up There

Posted on: January 13th, 2015 by National Trust for Historic Preservation 1 Comment

 

By Katherine Malone-France, Vice President for Historic Sites

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A snapshot of Oatlands Plantation after a winter snowfall

Over the past few months, I’ve had the opportunity to visit with several of the families who gave their properties to the National Trust to become historic sites. These families, who owned our sites before they were open to the public and made the choice to donate them to the National Trust, have a unique perspective on these places and our work.

One such site is Oatlands, a National Historic Landmark in Leesburg, Virginia, that was donated to the National Trust in 1964 by the Eustis family, who had owned the property since the early 20th century. However, the connection between the Eustis family and the National Trust runs even deeper; Margaret Eustis, one of the final generation of the family to own the property, was the wife of David Finley, the founding chairman of the National Trust and an important figure in American cultural life in the 20th century.

David Finley served as the first director of the National Gallery of Art and the founding chairman of the White House Historical Association. He’s also credited for much of the success of the Roberts Commission, of which he served as vice chairman, in saving great works of art in Europe during WWII. (Here’s a great post on Finley’s role in the Roberts Commission, whose story was told in the recent film “Monuments Men.”)

For the first post in a series of Q&As with some of the families connected to homes that have become National Trust Historic Sites, David Finley Williams, a retired attorney and the grandson of David Finley, was kind enough to answer a few questions about his family’s connections to Oatlands and to the National Trust.... 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.

St. John and St. Thomas: A Supplemental Virgin Islands Travel Guide

Posted on: January 12th, 2015 by David Weible

 

View of St. Thomas from Blackbeard's Castle
View of St. Thomas from Blackbeard's Castle

When I woke up in my apartment in Northwest D.C. this morning, I could practically see my breath. And as I sit here writing this, my back is turned to the outlines of downtown Washington adrift in a blotted mist of freezing rain. I’m sure many of you can relate.

But somewhere there were American citizens that woke up to a perfect 74-degree, sunlit day. They were surrounded by palm trees, warm waters, and plenty of rum. That place is St. Croix, in the U.S. Virgin Islands.

The island’s human history -- spanning thousands of years and seven different colonial claims -- was explored by writer Scott Elder in the Winter 2015 issue of Preservation. And though there are enough attractions on St. Croix to last longer than your average vacation, the U.S. Virgin Islands also include St. John and St. Thomas.

Below is a guide to a few of their most interesting historical spots, if you’re ever inclined to leave a dark, cold place behind.... 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.

David Weible

David Weible

David Weible is a content specialist for the National Trust, previously with Preservation magazine. He came to D.C. from Cleveland, Ohio, where he wrote for Sailing World and Outside magazines.

 

The Randolph School in 1928
The Randolph School in 1928

After Hurricane Katrina hit the small town of Pass Christian in Mississippi, many in the community were displaced, homes were lost, and schools and churches were destroyed. However, this small community came together to fight for and save a small schoolhouse -- the Randolph School, one of the few remaining Rosenwald Schools in Mississippi.

“Here was a town facing every problem known to man… they didn’t have lights, sewers, water, streets, anything,” says Lolly Barnes, Executive Director of the Mississippi Heritage Trust. “And yet they said this building was worthy of saving.”... 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.

Meghan O'Connor

Meghan O'Connor

Meghan O’Connor is the member services assistant at the National Trust. She enjoys learning, writing, and talking about museums, art, architecture, and anything historic.