Wednesday, January 31, 2007

NYSCA Grants Available, Deadline March 1, 2007

The Architecture, Planning and Design Program of the New York State Council on the Arts (NYSCA) is pleased to announce the availability of project grants for professionals in the design, planning and historic preservation fields through its Independent Projects Category.

Grants of up to $10,000 will be available for architects, landscape architects, planners, designers, historic preservationists and scholars to realize specific projects that advance the field and contribute to the public's understanding of the designed environment. The development of design prototypes, historical studies of building types, theoretical design studies or texts, or explorations of new technology in the design fields are all welcome. The program is partly interested in innovative ideas being explored outside of traditional practice. Individuals whose work is not broadly known are encouraged to apply.

Projects may relate to any of the disciplines the program covers, including: architecture; architectural history; landscape architecture; urban and regional planning; urban design; historic preservation; graphic design; and industrial design.

Only New York State residents are eligible to apply. Tuition or projects being done is pursuit of an academic degree will not be funded. NYSCA funds cannot be used for out-of-state travel expenses. Applicants may only submit a project through a nonprofit sponsoring organization. The Architecture Program staff will assist individuals in identifying an appropriate group if necessary.

The deadline to register on line through a nonprofit sponsor is March 1st, 2007. Additional written and visual material will be due May 1st, 2007. A panel of design and planning professionals will evaluate the proposals, and final decisions will be made by late July, 2007.

For further information about this funding opportunity and application instructions, see the Architecture, Planning and Design Program's guidelines for Independent Projects Category on the New York State Council on the Art's web site,

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Blog Additions - NYS Preservation Organizations and "Reading Room" Resources

As promised in previous posts, I've continued to add new links to the sidebar, most notably, to the "Historic Preservation Organizations - New York State" and "Reading Room" sections.

Additions to the "Historic Preservation Organizations - New York State" section include links to the:

-- Historic House Trust, a not-for-profit organization that operates in tandem with the NYC Department of Parks and Recreation to "provide essential support for houses of architectural and historic significance spanning 350 years of New York City life." The houses are located in city parks and are open to the public.

-- Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance, a web site for and about the historic Sunnyside Gardens neighborhood in western Queens, NYC that is "recognized internationally as a model of urban planning."

-- Preservation Association of the Southern Tier, a private, not-for-profit membership and preservation advocacy organization serving Greater Binghamton, Broome, and Tioga Counties in New York State's southern tier.

Additions to the "Reading Room" section include links to many of the publications on the National Park Service's preservation planning site, such as the Cultural Resources Partnership Notes:

-- Issues Paper: Conservation Districts, which encompasses "two short essays by Robert E. Stipe and by Carole Zellie (1993; revised 1998)."

-- Local Preservation Reference Shelf, an "annotated historic preservation bibliography by the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions (1999)."

-- Subdivision Regulations and Historic Preservation, an article by Stephen A. Morris (1992; revised 1998).

-- Zoning and Historic Preservation, an article by Stephen A. Morris (1989; revised 1998).

I've also added links to other publications posted, and in some cases prepared by, the National Park Service:

-- Preservation Planning: Ensuring a Future for Our Past, a thematic issue of the National Park Service publication CRM.

-- History on the Line: Testimony in the Cause of Preservation, which presents selected "testimony delivered before the Historic Preservation Review Board and other public officials in the District of Columbia between 1986 and 1996. The book can easily serve as a guide and model for preparing testimony on significance issues before government review boards throughout the country. 114 pages [.pdf]. 1998."

-- Guidelines for Local Surveys: A Basis for Preservation Planning (formerly National Register Bulletin 24); offers "guidance for communities, organizations, federal and state agencies, and individuals undertaking surveys of historic resources and incorporating survey results into planning. 112 pages. 1985."

-- Strategies for Protecting Archeological Sites on Private Lands, an online update of the earlier print publication Protecting Archeological Sites on Private Lands, written by Susan L. Henry, with Geoffrey M. Gyrisco, Thomas H. Veech, Stephen A. Morris, Patricia L. Parker, and Jonathan P. Rak. Both publications include "useful information on strategies for protecting archeological sites that can be used in local communities when there is no federal involvement in a project. Targeted to professional and avocational archeologists, local preservation commissions, planners, and developers. 133 pages. 1993."

I will write more about these resources in future posts.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Historic Preservation Enhances Quality of Life, Produces Economic Benefits

The University of Florida's Levin College of Law, Department of Urban and Regional Planning, and Bureau of Economic & Business Research (and other UF programs) recently completed a collaborative study that confirmed historic preservation enhances quality of life for Floridians. The report, entitled Contributions of Historic Preservation to the Quality of Life in Florida, includes models and tools available to further historic preservation in Florida and to measure the impact of historical structures, events and related activities on the enhancement of the quality of life in Florida. As noted in a UF press release, examples of model communities and projects are sprinkled throughout the report: DeFuniak Springs and Fernandina Beach are described as communities whose historic roots lure tourists and improve the economies of their regions. The St. Augustine Lighthouse and Museum; the Fort Christmas Historical Park in Central Florida, and the Riley House museum near Tallahassee are provided as case studies of how how history museums can be important community resources. The report also describes conservation districts in Tampa, Sarasota, and Zephyrhills that offer ways for local governments to balance historic preservation through protection, rehabilitation and revitalization, all contributing to a neighborhood's culture. Those interested can download .pdfs of both the Research Report Executive Summary (40 pages) and Research Report - Technical information.

The UF quality of life study builds on The Economic Impact of Historic Preservation in Florida, a one-year research study previously completed by the Center for Governmental Responsibility and the Center for Urban Policy Research at Rutgers University. Available documents include the Research Report Executive Summary, News Release with key findings, and Research Report - Technical information.

As our students know, many other states, including Colorado, Georgia, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, Missouri, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Virginia, and West Virginia, have completed studies documenting the economic impacts of historic preservation. Links to many of these statewide studies and similar reports are available on the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation's web site.

Additional information and summaries of some of the reports to which I did not link are available as part of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Dollars and Sense of Historic Preservation series (

Building Conservation Program Spring Weekend #2

With the weather rather bitterly cold and intermittent wind and blowing snow Building Conservation students spent most of their Saturday studio time working in class. A lot was accomplished. We were able to review many historic photographs and maps showing the Congress Street corridor, discuss potential project boundaries and existing conditions, and review the findings from the numerous studies and reports that have been collected and digested in the last two weeks.

During the next two weeks, the students will begin preparing overlay maps in AutoCAD, developing a series of potential project boundaries with a rationale for each, refining the project scope, preparing a draft history of the Congress Street corridor, analyzing demographic information, attending a public hearing regarding concept plans for the Lower Congress Street project, meeting with neighborhood representatives, gathering and analyzing additional zoning and land use data, preparing an inventory of existing businesses, and continuing a wide range of other research.

When we meet next, over the weekend of February 9th and 10th, Preservation Design Studio will be complemented by the Professional Practice class, which is taught by Ruth Pierpont of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation's Field Services Bureau.

Friday, January 26, 2007

Travel, Learn, and Get Hands-On Building Conservation Experience

Many thanks to Jamie Donahoe of the Heritage Conservation Network for sending along information about their 2007 workshops. Based in Boulder, Colorado, the HCN offers hands on building conservation workshops (all over the world) that bring participants together with local residents who are working to save their cultural heritage. Participants contribute significantly to projects while working with experts in the field of heritage conservation. Novice to expert – all are welcome.

The 2007 schedule includes a series of workshops that will enable participants to gain critical hands-on experience with different materials and conservation issues while contributing to preservation work at the sites. This year's sites and projects include:

Conservation Survey in the Monastery of San Giovanni Battista,
Serravalle, Vittorio Veneto, Italy
– April 1-14, 2007

Traditional and Colonial Building Conservation in Ghana, Accra, Ghana
(in association with the School of Environmental Design at the
University of Georgia) – June 24 - July 7, 2007

Historic Finishes of the Old West, Virginia City, Montana (in
association with the Virginia City Institute for Preservation Research
and Technology) – July 9-13, 2007

Preservation Work at the Kornthal Parsonage, Jonesboro, Illinois (in
association with the School of Architecture - Southern Illinois
University Carbondale and the Kornthal Union County Memorial) – July
15-28, 2007

Saving the Stark House, Port Robinson, Ontario – September 23 - October
6, 2007

Workshop fees range from $425 to $2000 per person per week, depending on location. Participation in the Serravalle workshop is limited to mid-career professionals, but the other workshops are open to anyone interested in acquiring preservation skills and experience or in contributing their time and effort to the project.

Jamie (whom we hope to do a blog interview with sometime soon) notes that 2008 workshops will be located in Armenia, Albania, Slovenia, and the United Kingdom, providing great travel opportunities in conjunction with training.

For further information, please contact Judith Broeker, HCN’s Program
Director, at workshops @, 303 444 0128. HCN's website, (also in sidebar list at right), offers much more information about the organization, its mission, workshops that have been conducted in the past, and 2007 workshops. Mark your calendars, visit the web site, and start saving now!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Blog Additions - Statewide Historic Preservation Planning

A Statewide Historic Preservation Plans (Northeast) section has just been added to the sidebar, below the Reading Room section. Included are links to the National Park Service's Preservation Plan Profile web page and online versions of all the statewide historic preservation plans we could locate. If your state is missing, refer to the Park Service's profiles or search the web; keep in mind we have only included links to eastern seaboard states between Maine and Washington, D.C. and not all states have posted electronic versions of their plans. These plans are a great way to become familiar with historic preservation in your state (and, obviously, other states) and to learn more about the range of historic resources, organizations involved, as well as available tools and incentives for protecting historic resources.

In accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act, statewide historic preservation plans are prepared on an approximately five-year planning cycle by all state historic preservation offices. The National Park Service's Historic Preservation Planning Program web site includes information on The Secretary of the Interior's Standards and Guidelines for Preservation Planning; an extensive list of Publications, including information on conducting local surveys of historic resources, public participation, planning and zoning tools, etc.; the Planning Companion, a "gateway for information about approaches, tools, techniques, guidance, and resources for historic preservation planning; and information about statewide historic preservation planning, including state plan titles and contacts and state plan profiles.

The state plan profiles provide useful overviews of each state's plan, typically including such information as the plan's title, number of pages, date the plan was approved by the National Park Service, planning cycle dates, contact information and link to an online version of the plan (if available), and summarized information from the plan, including mission/vision statement, public participation, issues, opportunities, and threats, goals and objectives, and implementation strategies.

We will be adding some of the Park Service's resource material to the sidebar's Reading Room section as time allows.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Preservation, Smart Growth, Abandoned/Vacant Buildings and Mills

This week's issue of Smart Growth Online arrived in my mailbox early this morning and, as is often the case, has several items that preservationists should know about. Smart Growth Online, a subset of, is a service of the Smart Growth Network, and has been developed and maintained by the Sustainable Communities Network (SCN), with funding from the US EPA. Each issue of Smart Growth Online includes links to four or five new published resources as well as summaries of pertinent news items from all over the U.S., and there is almost always something I haven't heard of anywhere else.

Interesting items in this week's issue include descriptions and links to:

-- Built Works, a web resource from the American Institute of Architects' Center for Communities By Design that "demonstrates the expertise architects contribute to community design. Featured projects on Built Works serve as a community design resource and demonstrate the positive impact of thoughtful community design and civic engagement in our nation's communities. Based upon the AIA Communities by Design's 10 Principles for Livable Communities, Built Works contributors discuss project goals, plan implementation process, and the community impact of their recommendations while sharing the community lessons learned. Projects featured on the Built Works website provide architects, citizens, elected officials, and other design professionals with tangible examples of communities energized and revitalized through urban design plans using the AIA's 10 principles. The communities range in size from small towns to entire regions; all involve AIA architects working with communities, elected officials, and other design professionals to improve communities through civic engagement and community design."

-- Revitalizing America's Mills: A Report on Brownfield Mills Projects, a 32-page report from the US EPA "that relates case histories chronicling some of the challenges faced and solutions found during the EPA-supported revitalization of more than 350 mill sites (so far) throughout the nation. The new booklet's contents include a brief history of mills in the United States, followed by case studies of: Textile mills (Taunton, MA and Rock Hill, SC), Wood product and paper mills (Little Falls, MN and Astoria, OR), and Iron and steel mills (Sterling, IL and Johnstown, PA). The new document also includes a comprehensive list of federal, state, and other resources." See also The Institute of Brownfield Professionals.

-- Alan Mallach's new book Bringing Buildings Back (which I've recently purchased, but haven't yet read), which "provides policymakers and practitioners with the first in-depth guide to understanding and dealing with the many ramifications that this issue holds for the future of our older cities. Combining practical suggestions with a thoughtful exploration of policy, Mallach pulls together insights from law, economics, planning, and design to address all sides of the problem, from how abandonment can be prevented to how best to bring these properties back into productive reuse. Focusing on the need for sustainable reuse and revitalization of America's cities and neighborhoods, Bringing Buildings Back shows how finding solutions for individual buildings can and must be tied to the larger process of making our cities economically stronger and environmentally sounder places to live and work. The book is replete with examples of how cities, community development corporations, and others have come up with creative, effective solutions."

Other vacant/abandoned property resources include Vacant Properties: True Costs to Communities (from the National Vacant Properties Campaign) which summarizes research on the costs vacant and abandoned properties impose upon communities and highlights local programs successfully recapturing the value in these properties, and Combating Problems of Vacant and Abandoned Properties: Best Practices in 27 Cities (from the U.S. Conference of Mayors).

Monday, January 22, 2007

Employment, Blog News

Thanks to Elisabeth Bakker Johnson (BCon '02), for sending along three new job announcements today (please note we have not provided all information about job description, qualifications, etc. and therefore, follow up accordingly with appropriate people as described below):

-- The Currier Museum of Art in Manchester, NH is hiring a Manager of Public Programs to develop and implement a varied schedule of public programs for adults and families based on the museum collections and special exhibitions. The museum is currently undergoing an expansion to increase gallery and public programming spaces. The Manager of Public Programs is responsible for working with cross-departmental museum staff, volunteers, and public stakeholders to develop interpretive programs using these new facilities that attract new and repeat visitors and enrich their museum experience. Qualifications: M.A. in Art History, museum education, or a related field, and experience developing creative museum programs. Excellent organizational and writing skills necessary. Fluency in a second language preferred but not required. Ability to work evenings and weekends as required for programs. Please inquire for a complete job descriptions. To apply, please send a cover letter and resume to: Leah Fox, Director of Public Programs, Currier Museum of Art, 201 Myrtle Way, Manchester, NH 03104,

-- The Trustees of Reservations is seeking a Farm Educator for Appleton Farm in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Appleton Farms is the oldest continuously operated farm in the nation and one of the largest remaining farms in Massachusetts. The property consists of 500 acres of agricultural land, 400 acres of woodland and the remainder designed landscape. The farm, which is open to the public, contains historic structures and landscapes, prime agricultural land as well as a wide diversity of natural features including forests, fields, wetlands and wildlife. The Farm Educator develops and implements site-based interpretation and education programs at Appleton Farms; the job encompasses a variety of tasks related to public interpretation and education of the agricultural, natural and cultural resources of Appleton Farms. For more information about qualifications, work experience, responsibilities, work benefits, schedule and salary, please contact: Peter Money, Northeast Region Education Manager, TTOR, 572 Essex Street, Beverly, MA, 01915,

-- The Trustees of Reservations is seeking applicants for the seasonal (April - October) part-time position of Historic Site Assistant at The Old Manse, a National Historic Landmark in Concord, Massachusetts. This position is expected to start in April 2007. The Historic Site Assistant works closely with the Historic Site Manager in administering the operations at The Old Manse. There are four main components to this position, all of which involve working in conjunction with other staff: publicity and events coordination (posting flyers, sending press releases, and assisting with special events); bookstore management (placing orders for and re-stocking the small bookstore); head Historic Site Interpreter (scheduling guides, filling in where needed); collections management (cleaning and caring for the house and its objects). For more information or to apply, please contact, or send cover letter and resume to: Deborah Kreiser-Francis, Historic Site Manager, The Old Manse, P.O. Box 572, Concord, MA, 01742,, (978) 369-3909.

Many thanks, too, to the Landmarks Society of Western New York, which included a description and link to our blog in the news section on their home page. If you are in the Rochester/Western New York region, you should consider becoming a member and getting involved in their advocacy efforts, tours, and wide range of activities. This spring, selected activities include (check the LSWNY web site for more information, ticket sales, and additional events/activities):

-- January 19-21, Rochester Downtown Design Charette (follow up January 26)

-- February 9, Walk the Walk: Encounters with Rochesters African American Ancestors

-- May 18, architectural tour of Buffalo.

-- May 20-23, tour of Victorian Cape May, New Jersey.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Blog Additions

This is an "off" weekend for the Building Conservation program (no school) and students are on their own doing research and studying existing conditions in the Congress Street corridor.

In the meantime, we've added more items to the sidebar, such as:

-- Several links to the Rensselaer and Troy section, including Wikipedia's article on Troy; Preserve America City: Troy, New York; NY Times Escapes article about Troy, and 33 Plusses to Life in the Capital Region from the Russell Sage Colleges web site. Many of us in Troy LOVE this city, and many more have discovered or rediscovered it in recent years. You can still find bargains, but it is getting harder and harder, and many people are rehabilitating older and historic houses and historic buildings. You don't have to travel far in the city to see "Enjoy Troy" signs and we hope you will too!

-- Several links to the Historic Preservation (and related) Organizations - National list, including the New York Preservation Archives Project; the National Vacant Properties Campaign; and NeighborWorks America.

-- The Historic Barns of Connecticut site in the Historic Preservation (and related) Organizations - Northeast list, and

-- The New York City Subway - 150 Years of Rapid Transit, Owego, New York Historic Preservation Commission, and John J. Harvey Fireboat Restoration sites to the Historic Preservation (and related) Organizations - New York State list.

As always, if you know of any appropriate organizations that we should consider adding, please pass them along!

We would also like to congratulate Building Conservation program friend Terry Page, the Oakwood Cemetery Association, and the Friends of Oakwood Cemetery. You can read about their extraordinary efforts over the past eight or so years to restore Troy's magnificent rural cemetery in this article from the Albany Times Union. Nearly every Building Conservation class has toured the cemetery, and marveled at the unparalleled views of the Hudson and Mohawk River valleys, the historic Gardner Earl Crematorium, and numerous fine monuments. But these are subjects for another story...

Friday, January 19, 2007

Upcoming Events, Conferences, and Educational Opportunities

A number of announcements about upcoming lectures, conferences, and educational opportunities have come our way, and we wanted to pass them along:

-- Thursday, February 8, 6:30 PM, Troy Public Library: A presentation on The Capital District's Underground Railroad Story. Learn through pictures and documentation about the citizens who assisted those seeking freedom from slavery and about the freedom seekers who settled in or passed through the Capital District. Presented by Paul and Mary Liz Stewart of the Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region, Inc. The program is free and open to the public, but prior registration is required. To register, stop by the information desk in the Main Library or call 274-7071. The Underground Railroad History Project of the Capital Region is also holding a conference, whose theme will be Uncovering the Voices of Women, on February 23-25 at the College of St. Rose in Albany (details are on the web site).

-- March 7-10, Hynes Convention Center, Boston, MA: Traditional Building Exhibition and Conference "the only national trade show and conference for historic homeowners, architects, designers, contractors and developers, planners, building owners and craftsmen involved in historic restoration, renovation, and traditionally-inspired new design and construction." Includes 80 seminars, workshops, panel discussions and tours of Boston's famous historic landmarks as well as hundreds of exhibitioners and suppliers of historically accurate products and services.

-- March 8-11, PSFS/Loews Hotel, Philadelphia, PA: 2007 American Institute of Architects Historic Resources Committee conference. This will be AIA HRC's first conference collaboration with the Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture (ACSA). Entitled "Fresh Air," the conference will feature sessions on historic preservation and provide a window into the future of architecture education and practice.

-- March 9-11, New York City, NY: Historic Districts Council Preserving the Past, Planning the Future conference. The conference will address the question of given the ambitious housing and development plans currently being pursued and the expected population increase in the next few decades, what will happen to the historic neighborhoods of New York City over the next generation? A distinguished group of preservationists, planners, artists, architects, educators and developers from New York City’s five boroughs and beyond will be presenting their views in a series of three panel discussions: “The Greening of Preservation,” “Smart(?) Growth: Brooklyn in the 21st Century” and “The Future of New York: With Preservation or Without?” Additional information is on the HDC's web site.

-- June 5 - August 8, Nantucket, MA: Preservation Institute 2007 - Summer Program in Historic Preservation. For those who would like to spend their summer learning at the beach! The curriculum is "project oriented, addressing current community concerns. Off-island field trips to New Bedford and Newburyport are included and students earn nine graduate credit hours of course work in preservation theory and practice; graphic and photo archival documentation; and historic research and building analysis. Resident faculty are supplemented by numerous guest speakers.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Follow the Proceedings of Landmarks Designation and Review in NYC - Remotely - and Learn About Preservation Design Review and Advocacy

After reading Sewell Chan's New York Times article Preservation Commission Turns Down Proposal for Upper East Side Tower and then checking the Historic Districts Council Newsstand blog yesterday morning, I realized that the convergence and clever use of new and old media technologies -- web logs, web sites, and newspapers -- has made it possible to follow, from anywhere, New York City's landmarks designation and review process and related advocacy efforts by preservation and neighborhood groups.

While New York City is in many ways unique, the ability to follow its landmark designation and review process nonetheless presents tremendous learning opportunities for our students and anyone else interested in historic preservation in regard to preservation regulations, permit review procedures, organizing, and advocacy. I recommend it highly to my Economics of Historic Preservation students, whose case study assignments always include attending meetings of historic district commissions and planning and zoning boards. It also provides great background for Dorothy Miner's upcoming Preservation Law classes.

I must caution that I am not an expert on New York City's landmarks preservation law, its related procedures, or any of the organizations involved, and what I present here, I've learned from organizational web sites and related blog posts and newspaper articles.

The property involved in the initial case I followed is the former Parke-Bernet Gallery (980 Madison Avenue between 76th and 77th streets), which is described in Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing documents as a "modern gallery building designed by Walker & Poor and built in 1948-50."

Two of the various organizations involved are the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission and the Historic Districts Council.

The case began sometime in late September or early October when the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) scheduled a public hearing for October 24, 2006 to review a permit application "to alter the facades, to demolish rooftop and rear additions, construct an additions [sic] and establish a Master Plan governing the future installation of storefront infill," and to request that the [LPC] "issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for Modification of Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution." The modifications, including the addition of a 30-story glass residential tower, were proposed by New York City developer Aby Rosen and his architect, Lord Norman Foster. Details about the proposal were published in Nicolai Ouroussoff's generally favorable October 10, 2006 New York Times article Injecting a Bold Shot of the New on the Upper East Side, which recognized that the proposed building would be a "challenge to a neighborhood known for an aversion to bold contemporary architecture."

The LPC is the New York City municipal agency responsible for identifying, designating, and regulating changes to the City's landmarks and historic districts. Established in 1965 in response to New Yorkers' growing concern that important physical elements of the city's history were being lost despite the fact that these buildings could be reused, the LPC's work is carried out by eleven commissioners and a full-time staff. Its web site enables anyone to read designation reports prepared by the staff and to follow the schedule of public hearings related to the designation and review process. The web site includes general background information about the agency, information about working with landmarks, landmark maps, forms and publications, a glossary, FAQs, employment opportunities, contact information, regularly posted news items, a calendar of public hearings, a permit search function, and a search engine for the site.

It should be noted that before the LPC hearing took place, the Historic Districts Council (HDC) alerted its constituency about the hearing and related issues with a post on its blog: ALERT: Help Save NYC's Historic Districts (October 16, 2006). In this post the HDC requested assistance from its readers "to help preserve the integrity of the landmarks process and save our historic districts from inappropriate development," provided background on the case, and included a sample letter requesting the LPC to reject Rosen's and Foster's proposal to construct a 30-story glass tower.

The HDC was founded by the Municipal Art Society in 1971 as a coalition of community groups from the city's designated historic districts, primarily to work on special projects and networking. In subsequent years, the number of historic districts increased from 18 to more than 80, and the coalition became an independent, nonpartisan incorporated organization with its own board of directors, executive director, and small staff. As it matured, the organization's focus also shifted to advancing historic designations and advocating for the city's historic resources. Although it is not connected to the city government, any other preservation organizations, or any individual neighborhood group, the HDC works with all of them. Its web site provides background information about the organization, its board of directors, advisors, and staff; internship and volunteer opportunities; Friends of the HDC; neighborhood partners; professional partners; and contact information. We will do a more extensive review of the HDC's web site in a future post, but several of its many other notable features include the Historic Districts Council Newsstand blog; monthly electronic bulletins distributed by email and posted on the web site; notes from recent testimony before the LPC, and District Lines newsletter, which is published three times annually.

Following its initial October 16th blog alert post, the HDC monitored the progess of the 980 Madison Avenue case in 11 additional posts, providing through "Alert," "News," and "Report" posts excellent glimpses into the twists and turns of the case, tracking and reporting on the actions of the LPC, HDC, and others, and presenting links, summaries, or the full text of articles reporting on the case in local media outlets. The series of posts included the following:

-- Wednesday, 10/25/06 -- NEWS: Press Roundup on 980 Madison Avenue Hearing which links to articles in NYC publications Gothamist, New York Magazine, New York Post, and New York Sun, and informs constituents about the hearings to date and how to contribute during the comment period.

-- Wednesday, 11/15/06 -- ALERT: Public Comment Period for 980 Madison Avenue (the Foster Tower) Extended obviously informing constituents of the comment period extension and providing contact information for the LPC in case readers wish to submit comments.

-- Thursday, 11/16/06 -- REPORT: Observations on the LPC from September & October 2006 summarizing the cases reviewed by the LPC in those months, prefaced by the comments that "one of HDC's principal activities is the review of proposals to landmark buildings. Before every public hearing, we review the proposals with an expert panel of volunteers for appropriateness, and comment when we feel it's necessary or helpful. Nadezhda Williams, HDC's Preservation Associate, works with the Public Review Committee, drafts the testimony from their findings and represents HDC at the hearings. These are her some of her notes and observations from the past few months.For HDC's testimony on any given hearing - check out"

-- Sunday, 11/26/06 -- NEWS: Tom Wolfe on the independence of the LPC
providing the full text of author Tom Wolfe's New York Times op-ed piece The (Naked) City and the Undead.

-- Wednesday, 12/06/06 -- NEWS: From Across the Atlantic, Reverberation of 980 Madison Fight providing the full text of an article about the case from the UK's newspaper The Guardian.

-- Wednesday, 12/13/06 -- NEWS: Did you hear the one about Tom Wolfe & the Landmarks Commission? providing the full text of the New York Observer's article Preservationists Cry Wolfe; We've Got Their Number.

-- Wednesday, 12/20/06 -- ALERT: 980 Madison Avenue Public Hearing Scheduled for January 16 and ALERT: 980 Madison Avenue Hearing in the Surrogate's Court Building providing updated information about public hearings on 980 Madison Avenue.

-- Tuesday, 01/09/07 -- NEWS: The Village Voice's Take on Tom Wolfe providing the full text from the Village Voice's article Has Tom Wolfe Blown It? In the author's latest foray into combat, it's his fame he's fighting to preserve.

-- Monday, 01/15/07 -- NEWS: 980 Madison Avenue nearing the midpoint providing the full text of an article in the New York Sun.

-- Tuesday, 01/16/07 -- REPORT: 980 Madison Hearing in all its glory providing an excellent, detailed, commissioner by commissioner account of the LPC's public meeting to review the 980 Madison Avenue proposal, ending with the words "...Commissioner Tierney [LPC's Chair] then closed the hearing, instructing the applicants to re-examine their proposal and re-study it in light of the commissioners' comments. No action was taken and a date was not set for a new hearing."

-- Wednesday, 01/17/07 -- NEWS: Press Roundup on 980 Madison Proposal providing links and one-sentence summaries of press coverage of the 980 Madison Avenue hearing in the New York Times, New York Post, New York Sun, New York Observer, Village Voice, and New York Daily News.

Anyone who wants to see how the 980 Madison Avenue case finally turns out will have to watch the web sites of the LPC and HDC for dates and outcomes of future public hearings. In the meantime, the HDC's web site issued an "Alert" post yesterday notifying constituents that the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint & Williamsburg is collecting signatures to save the Domino Sugar Refinery. A sample letter to Mayor Bloomburg supporting the designation of Domino Sugar as a New York City landmark and a link to the organization's petition is also provided.

Those interested in following the work of the LPC will also want to be aware of a relatively new group of advocates calling themselves the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation (CECPP). The masthead of their blog (included in our sidebar blogroll) states "Beloved buildings, architectural treasures, cultural icons, and historic places that New Yorker's care passionately about, are being defaced and demolished -- these are the very buildings and places that should be protected by NYC's landmarks law. Last year it was the Morris Lapidus building on Union Square, last summer it was 2 Columbus Circle, last month it was St. Brigid's Church on the Lower East Side of Manhattan. What will it be tomorrow?"

Since this is already a fairly long post, we will review CECPP's blog and activities in a future post. However, anyone interested in learning more before then can read the blog to find out more about the organization's mission, the problem statement, news, reports, steering committee and membership. In addition, the blog yesterday posted an internal document from the Municipal Art Society that " a thorough review of the current problems with the LPC and provides well thought out recommendations for reforming it." Although the document, entitled "New York City's Landmarks Preservation Commission: Meeting the Challenges of the 21st Century," is a marked up draft and was roughly scanned, it makes for interesting reading.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More Blog Sidebar Additions

We are continuing to add new resources to the sidebar. Today's additions include a link under the Rensselaer & Troy heading to What Is Troy All About?, an RPI web page that provides a good orientation for first-time visitors to Troy and those who would like to explore and get to know Troy, New York better, with an emphasis on architecture, arts, culture, and education.

New links under the Historic Preservation (and Related) Organizations - New York State heading, include:

-- New York Main Street Alliance and New York Main Street program (NYS Division of Housing & Community Renewal)

-- New York State Barn Coalition

-- New York State Covered Bridge Society

-- Friends of Historic Kingston

We've also added a link to a guide to architectural styles in Rensselaer County and a link to the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation (CECPP), a blog from New York City (we're included in their growing blogroll as well).

Monday, January 15, 2007

RESOURCES: Historic Preservation and Disaster Planning/Preparedness

The Florida Division of Historical Resources, Deparment of State, Division of Emergency Management, Department of Community Affairs, in collaboration with 1000 Friends of Florida, recently produced the new publication Disaster Planning for Florida's Historic Resources with Case Studies. The well illustrated manual "identifies a number of steps that can be taken to prepare for a disaster to minimize its impacts on historic resources. The underlying concept is to have accessible, accurate information about the location of historic resources and a framework for ensuring that information is available to emergency personnel trying to plan disaster mitigation, as well as those in the field dealing with response and recovery."

In addition to an introduction, chapters include:

-- Historic Preservation and Emergency Management: An Overview
-- Enhancing the Local Historic Preservation Process
-- Integrating Historic Preservation into Local Emergency Management
-- Community Case Studies (Apalachicola, Nassau County, Palm Beach County, Sarasota County)
-- Appendix

BCon Classes Resume, Blog Additions

Welcome back students and faculty! The spring semester began with the first segments of Preservation Design Studio on Friday afternoon and Saturday. Since most Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute students don't return until tomorrow when most classes resume, we had the campus almost completely to ourselves.

As previously mentioned, we will generally be studying the upper Congress Street corridor (pictured above), building on the ongoing collaborative efforts of the City of Troy, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, Rensselaer County, the Troy Housing Authority, and private developers to redevelop the former Ahern Apartments (public housing) site on lower Congress Street and Rensselaer's construction of the new Electronic Media and Performing Arts Center and other improvements.

Beyond choosing a site, we have not determined what our final product or products will be. Students will learn about neighborhood planning and generally apply the four Main Street principles of Design, Organization, Promotion, and Economic Restructuring to the Congress Street corridor and possibly the adjoinging Mt. Ida/Hillside neighborhood. During the next two weeks students will be researching the history of the Congress Street corridor and surrounding area, collecting historic maps and photographs, and reading, abstracting, and reporting on the numerous planning studies and related documents that were handed out in class.

The studio will be taught by Building Conservation faculty members Steve Bedford, Amy Facca, and John Holehan (read more about them on our faculty web page), with periodic assistance from Barb Nelson; Norman Mintz, Main Street expert and co-author of Cities Back from the Edge, may also assist.

This semester's class will also include Preservation Law, taught by Dorothy Miner (who also teaches at Columbia University and Pace Law School); Professional Practice, taught by Ruth Pierpont (Director of the NYS Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation's Field Services Bureau); and Preservation Trades and Craftsmanship, taught by Don Carpentier of Eastfield Village (you can read more about them on our faculty web page).

Our Friday dinner was held at Lynn Kopka's and Joe Abbey's house in historic Washington Park, where students and faculty were joined by friends of the Building Conservation program, neighbors, and five building conservation alumni. Following dinner, many students attended the RPI hockey game.

In terms of recent blog additions, we have added a few links to the employment/jobs list and have added a sidebar section (below the Books! list) called the Reading Room. It now includes links to numerous publications such as Old House Journal, the National Building Museum's Blueprints newsletter, Metropolis, Places Journal, and numerous reference sites from the National Park Service, including the Preservation Briefs. We will be adding more publications to this list as we think of and encounter them, and we welcome any suggestions. We will also soon be adding posts about recent publications and reference materials we've come across online.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

Saving the Van Hoesen House (Claverack)

Those interested in New York's Dutch architecture will enjoy reading Bob Gardinier's article, A Dutch Past Worth Preserving, from today's Albany Times Union.

The article describes the efforts of the Van Hoesen House Historical Foundation to save the 278 year old Jan Van Hoesen House, one of only "about a dozen pre-Revolutionary War Dutch homes still standing in New York. It is just south of the circa 1737 Luykas Van Allen House [visited several times by the Building Conservation program], which is maintained as a museum by the Columbia County Historical Society in the town of Kinderhook on Route 9H." The photograph above is from the Albany Times Union's web site.

Internship Opportunities - Preservation League of New York State

The Preservation League of New York State has informed us that it is seeking graduate or upper-level undergraduate students interested in historic preservation, public policy, government affairs, planning, history and related fields to work with them during the semester on some of their outreach projects. Examples of projects include:

-- Preparations for workshops on tax credit programs and other preservation planning tools to be presented in communities around New York State;

-- Outreach related to a model Historic Preservation Ordinance and other materials related to planning and zoning topics for local historic preservation landmark commissions;

-- Development of materials and programs for services provided to the Preservation Colleagues, a network of the preservation organizations around the state;

-- Assistance with responding to requests for information on a variety of topics, including the development of materials for the general public.

The position is open immediately. A summer position may also be offered. Work will be performed at the League offices located in an 1813 commercial structure near Washington Park in Albany. A schedule that includes at least one full or partial day per week at the office is preferred.

Applicants should be proficient in Microsoft Word and Excel (the office uses PCs), and have excellent writing skills.

Those interested should send a resume to Jay DiLorenzo, President, Preservation League of New York State, 44 Central Avenue, Albany, NY 12206; or fax: (518) 462-5684. Jay is a member of RPI BCon's Class of 2001.

The Preservation League of New York State is the statewide non-profit organization dedicated to the protection of New York's diverse and rich heritage of historic buildings, districts and landscapes. They accomplish their work through public policy, legal, technical, and grant programs, and serve as a unified voice to promote historic preservation throughout New York State.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Building Conservation (Historic Preservation) Program for Working Professionals, Blog Additions

Over the weekend, we added new sidebar links to a number of professional organizations and divisions or chapters within those organizations that bring together members that are specifically interested in historic preservation and urban design (see below for more updates).

This reminded us that since this is the time of year when we are receiving admission applications and many people are thinking about pursuing graduate degrees and making career changes, we should mention that our Building Conservation program has been designed specifically for you.

We are a program for working professionals and professionals looking to change careers or further specialize within their chosen field.

So if you are already an architect, architectural historian, engineer, contractor, mason, construction manager, archeologist, planner, museum professional, interior designer, or landscape architect and you don't want to or can't afford to leave your current job or your family, we may be exactly what you're looking for and need to advance to the next level of your profession. Of course, we also welcome and like hearing from others wishing to pursue a graduate degree in building conservation/historic preservation.

If you'd like to know more, telephone or email our director, Frederick Cawley, (518) 276-6867 or cawlef[at]rpi[dot]edu (we have used this format to thwart spammers--you should use the "at" symbol and dot as is standard email form). To find out more, you can also visit our web page and read the blog archives at the bottom of the sidebar to the right.

We will write about preservation careers in future posts, but in the meantime, you might also find it useful to visit the American Institute of Architect's Historic Resources Committee (including their online newsletter Preservation Architect and the AIA Guide to Historic Preservation .pdf); the
Americal Society of Landscape Architecture's Historic Preservation Professional Practice Network (several issues of their newsletter are also available online; the latest describe's ASLA's efforts to establish and further the mission and goals of the Historic American Landscape Survey (HALS), which is essentially the landscape version of Historic American Building Survey (HABS) and Historic American Engineering Record (HAER)); and the American Planning Association's Urban Design and Historic Preservation Division (several back issues of their newsletter are also online but member and nonmember users must register to gain access).

We have also begun adding historic preservation and related blogs to our new "blogroll," and greatly appreciate hearing from several readers. We will talk about these blogs and "preservation blogging" at greater length in later posts, but for now, visit John Leeke's Historic HomeWorks active video blog Reports from the Field and online video conferences. The collaborative YorkStater Blog recently mentioned us and often posts about historic preservation in upstate New York. In an update of our November 7, 2006 post (below) about a lecture series at the NYS Court of Appeals, they write that you can now view county courthouses, appellate court buildings, and several assorted city courthouses, and read about their histories on the Historical Society of the Courts of New York State's website.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

RPI Building Conservation in the News (from our Archives)

As we prepare for another spring semester and preservation planning studio project, we thought our returning students and others would be interested to read about some of our past accomplishments and studio projects. Over the past few years, our faculty and students have completed National Register nominations, historic structure reports, building condition studies, and similar reports and their work has been featured by various on- and off-campus media outlets. For a trip down memory lane, a few of the more readily accessible of these articles includes:

Architecture Students Offer Revitalization Plans for Local Village (Campus News, February 28, 2005) describes our 2005 Main Street studio project in the village of Waterford, New York. Our work built upon work initiated by the town and village of Waterford and River Street Planning & Development, including preparation of a comprehensive plan, local waterfront revitalization plan, implementation of canal corridor improvements including construction of a visitor center and development of entrepreneur training and loan programs.

West Hall Revival (Rensselaer Alumni Magazine, Winter 2004) describing Preservation Design Studio faculty and students' research and documentation of West Hall and the building's subsequent restoration by John G. Waite Associates. West Hall is a prominent campus building that was designed in the Second Empire Style by Marcus Cummings. The building served as Troy's first hospital and later became a Catholic high school before being acquired by RPI.

Lending A Hand in Preserving Local History (Campus News, June 1, 2003) describes the successful efforts of the Recording Historic Structures and Researching Historic Structures classes to list Troy's 1920 Fire Alarm and Police Signaling Building in the National Register of Historic Places.

Architecture Class Tackles "Main Street" in Middleburgh (Campus News, February 18, 2003) which details our spring 2003 preservation planning/Main Street studio in Middleburgh, New York. Our work resulted in the subsequent restoration of numerous storefronts and facades.

2 Sites Await National Register (Cathy Woodruff, Albany Times Union, July 6, 2000) describes student work leading to the listing of Troy's Osgood Firehouse and a farmhouse in Cropseyville, New York being listed in the National Register of Historic Places.

Our earliest projects included a preservation planning studio in Troy's North Central neighborhood and preparation of a historic structure report for Troy's Beman Park Hose Co. No. 9.

Our most recent Preservation Design Studio occurred last spring and resulted in the preparation of an exhaustive historic structure report for Woodside Church and Chapel, part of the legacy of iron magnate Henry Burden and his family in Troy. If you visit the Building Conservation program website, you will see some of the numerous measured drawings (plans, elevations, sections, details, etc.) that were prepared as part of the report. Woodside Church and Chapel were vacated by the Albany Presbytery and, with assistance from the Hudson Mohawk Industrial Gateway, Troy Architectural Program, and others, efforts are continuing to find a sympathetic buyer.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Historic Preservation and Architectural History Reference Books

Classes resume again on Friday afternoon and we will shortly post about this semester's classes. In the meantime, we are clearing up an accummulation of items that will likely be of interest to our readers:

The National Trust for Historic Preservation's Forum Listserv recently had a thread about standard references for an architectural historian's library. Based on the ensuing discussion, Lena Sweeten compiled the following list (feel free to recommend additions by adding a comment to this post!):

Blumenson, John G. Identifying American Architecture - A Pictorial Guide to Styles and Terms, 1600-1945, Revised Edition. Alta Mira Press, 1995. 2nd Revised Edition.

Brand, Stewart. How Buildings Learn: What Happens After They’re Built. New York: Penguin Books, 1994.

Ching, Francis D. K. A Visual Dictionary of Architecture. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1997.

Condit, Carl W. The Chicago School of Architecture: A History of Commercial and Public Buildings in the Chicago Area, 1875-1925. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998 (reprint).

Davis & Switzer. America’s Favorite Homes (houses by mail order catalogues)

George, Charles, A.I.A. and Harold Reeve Sleeper. A.I.A. Architectural Graphic Standards. Fourth Edition. New York: John Wiley & Sons, 1952.

Gottfried, Herbert and Jan Jennings. American Vernacular Design, 1870-1940. Iowa State Press, 1988.

Gottfried, Herbert, and Jan Jennings. American Vernacular Interior Architecture, 1870-1940. Van Nostrand Reinhold, 1987.

Gowans, Alan. Styles and Types of North American Architecture. New York: Icon Editions, 1992.

Hamlin, Talbot. Greek Revival Architecture in America. Dover Publications, 1985.

Harris, Cyril M. Dictionary of Architecture and Construction. 4th edition. New York: McGraw-Hill Professional, 2005.

Hubka, Thomas C. Big House, Little House, Back House, Barn: The Connected Farm Buildings of New England.

Isaac, Rhys. The Transformation of Virginia, 1740-1790 (focused more on social history)

Jackson, Kenneth T. Crabgrass Frontier: The Suburbanization of the United States. Oxford University Press, 1987.

Jester, Thomas C. Twentieth-Century Building Materials (deals with the most common not-so-old materials such as masonite, plastic laminates and vinyl tiles.

Lanier, Gabrielle M., and Bernard Herman. Everyday Architecture of the Mid-Atlantic: Looking at Buildings and Landscapes. Creating the North American Landscape series. The Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.

Lounsbury, Carl R. and Vanessa E. Patrick, eds. An Illustrated Glossary of Early Southern Architecture and Landscape. University of Virginia Press, 1999 (reprint).

McAlester, Virginia and Lee McAlester. A Field Guide to American Houses. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2000 (reprint).

Meany, Terry. Working Windows: A Guide to the Repair and Restoration of Wood Windows. The Lyons Press, 1998.

Noble, Allen G. Wood, Brick, and Stone: The North American Settlement Landscape. Vol 1, Houses. University of Massachusetts Press, 1984.

Noble, Allen G. Wood, Brick, and Stone: The North American Settlement Landscape. Vol. 2, Barns and Farm Structures. University of Massachusetts Press, 1986 (reprint).

Phillips, Steven J. "Old House Dictionary: An Illustrated Guide to American Domestic Architecture 1600 to 1940." Washington, DC: The Preservation Press, National Trust for Historic Preservation, 1994.

Pierson, William H. American Buildings and Their Architects: Technology and the Picturesque, the Corporate, and Early Gothic Styles, Part A. Doubleday, 1980.

Pierson, William H. American Buildings and Their Architects. Vol. 1: The Colonial and Neo-Classical Styles. Oxford University Press, 1986 (reprint).

Poore, Patricia. The Old House Journal Guide to Restoration. Dutton Adult, 1992.

Poppeliers, John. What Style Is It? A Guide to American Architecture, Revised Edition. New York: John Wiley and Sons, 2003.

Ramsey, Charles George, Harold Reeve Sleeper, Donald Watson, eds.

Architectural Details : Classic Pages from Architectural Graphic Standards 1940 – 1980. Wiley, 2001.

Scully, Vincent J. American Architecture and Urbanism. Revised edition. Henry Holt & Co., 1988.

Stevenson, Katherine Cole, and H. Ward Jandl. Houses By Mail: A Guide to Houses from Sears, Roebuck & Co. Dover Publications, 1991.

Walker, Lester R. American Shelter: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of the American Home. Revised edition. Overlook Hardcover, 1998.

Walker, Lester R. American Homes: An Illustrated Encyclopedia of Domestic Architecture. Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, 2002.

Weitzman, David. Traces of the Past: A Field Guide to Industrial Archaeology. Encore Editions, 1983. (with descriptions of changing railroad track, specialized out buildings such as brick forges, coke furnaces, oil derricks and lots of early bridges)

Whiffen and Koeper. American Architecture. Vol. 1: 1607-1860. The MIT Press, 1981 (reprint). Vol. 2: 1860-1976. The MIT Press, 1983 (reprint). (2 vol)

APT NE Ironwork Workshop

Thanks to our friends at APT NE for passing along news of what promises to be a very interesting and educational event. While our faculty and students will have classes that day, it is likely that many of our alumni and other readers will be interested.

The event is an Ironwork Workshop, conducted by the Association for Preservation Technology's Northeast Chapter and Hammersmith Studios. As the workshop announcement states, on Saturday, January 27, 2007 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m., "Hammersmith Studios will provide a hands-on introductory workshop on forged ironwork. Founders Susan and Carl Close will discuss all aspects of ironwork including: definition and identification of ironwork, differences between iron and steel and other ferrous metals, materials characteristics, strengths and weaknesses, how, when, and where to use iron, specifying iron work, and repair techniques. Master craftsman Carl Close will demonstrate basic blacksmithing techniques--scrolling, twisting, splitting, and leaf work. After lunch participants will have an opportunity to try these techniques at the forge and to apply them to a design problem. Lunch, morning and afternoon refreshment [is] included."

The workshop will be held at Hammersmith Studios, 50 Beharrell Street, Concord, Massachusetts. Registration fees are $80.00 for APT NE members and $100.00 for nonmembers (which includes a 1-year APTNE individual membership). Space is limited to 20 participants, so please assure your spot by registering as soon as possible (registration deadline is January 19, 2007). Contact Susan Hollister at susan[dot]hollister[at]goodyclancy[dot]com (we have used this email address format to foil spammers collecting addresses) to register or if you have questions. Checks payable to APTNE and registration information (name, company, address, city, state, zip, email, and phone number) can be sent to Susan Hollister, c/o Goody Clancy, 420 Boylston Street, Boston, MA 02116.

Saturday, January 06, 2007

Building Conservation Blog Additions

Although the students are still on break, school doesn't resume until next weekend, and we have been posting a little less frequently, we have made additions and improvements to this blog as time allowed. In a "behind the scenes" change, we updated to Google's new version of Blogger, although we may eventually switch to a more sophisticated blogging tool such as Wordpress, Typepad, or Movable Type. Most other changes have involved reorganizing the various sections of links and adding numerous new links, particularly under the Historic Preservation and Related Organizations (National) heading. Since many students will be graduating this spring, we have also added links to the Historic Preservation Employment section.

We also hope to add a "blog roll," or list of web logs addressing historic preservation issues as well as links to reading materials that will be useful and convenient for our students, faculty, alumni, and other preservation professionals.

While we have endeavored to locate other preservation blogs, and blogs dealing with related topics such as housing rehabilitation, downtown revitalization, and planning, we haven't found many, even though we queried members of the National Trust for Historic Preservation's Forum listserv and others (we listed a few of the blogs we found during our initial search in our December 19th post). This leads us to speculate that although blogs are becoming an increasingly common communication, information sharing, and social networking tool, the phenomenon has not yet caught on among preservation professionals and organizations.

We would really appreciate hearing about any blogs that would be interesting to our community of preservation students and professionals as well as how preservation (and related) organizations are using blogs to further their missions; please leave comments and link(s) below. (Thanks!) Of course, we would also be pleased to hear about any other resources that we can add to this blog to better inform and educate our students.

We have also, perhaps temporarily, abbreviated the "About Us" section, since we now link to the new Rensselaer Building Conservation program website which provides much more information about the program than can easily be included here.

Friday, January 05, 2007

Historic Preservation and Heritage Tourism News Stories

The New York Times has recently done a number of interesting articles about historic preservation and heritage tourism, including:

Homes Sell, and History Goes Private (Tracy Rozhon) which describes Colonial Williamsburg Foundation's recent decision to put the historic house, Carter's Grove, up for sale (photo above from Colonial Williamsburg's site). The article has provoked much thoughtful discussion about the diverse efforts of historic house and living history museums to stay open and remain relevant in the face of declining visitation rates and increasing competition for education and entertainment dollars. More information follows this list of articles.

Fantastic animated graphic images showing the planned restoration of Central Park's Bethesda Terrace to the original designs of Calvert Vaux and Frederick Law Olmsted.

Brick Houses, Winding Paths and Unexpected Sharp Elbows (Jeff Vandam), describing recent efforts by local preservationists and New York City's Landmark Preservation Commission to designate Sunnyside Gardens, a 16-block, cooperative garden community in western Queens, as a historic district.

Reclaiming the Revolution and the related articles The Fight for Independence in a Strategic Region and Timeline: Paths of War, From Long Island to Princeton (all by Terry Golway). These articles describe American Revolution sites in New Jersey and Congress' recent passage of legislation designating hundreds of the state's Revolutionary War sites as part of a new entity called the Crossroads of American Revolution National Heritage Area. A slide show of sites and re-enactors is also included.

Once a Hub of Strife, Boston Woos Black Tourists (Joshua Kurlantzick), describing a historic tour of Roxbury by trolley, and some of Boston's efforts to change its image among black Americans.

Using Redevelopment to Tell a Story (Lisa Chamberlain), describing Durham, North Carolina and private developers' recent efforts to turn a painful past into opportunity, using history as a teaching experience while also rebuilding a once-vibrant commercial district. Working in partnership, two developers will redevelop 20 buildings, or 600,000 square feet, as well as a vacant lot that was once the site of a Woolworth's where lunch counter sit-ins took place, attracting the support of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1960. The city has been organizing business owners and volunteers to build a "museum without walls" and is completing infrastructure improvements.

Mothering Brooklyn (Susan Dominus), a eulogy for long-time Brooklyn preservationist Evelyn Ortner describing Evelyn and Everett Ortner's efforts to revitalize Brooklyn, beginning in the mid-1960s.

To read more about the protected sale of Carter's Grove (meaning that "restrictions would be implemented for the long-term protection of the site's historic, architectural, visual, archeological, and environmental resources"), see Colonial Williamsburg Foundation to Proceed with Protected Sale of Carter's Grove, which includes a fact sheet about the protected sale of the Carter's Grove site and statements from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antinquities. In establishing sales restrictions, Colonial Williamsburg hopes to establish standards that will serve as a model for the historic preservation community.

Readers may also be interested in a new book by Donna Ann Harris, New Solutions for House Museums: Ensuring the Long-Term Preservation of America's Historic Houses. A blurb on the back cover of the book notes that a "generational shift is occurring at historic house museums as board members and volunteers retire and few young people are taking their place. These landmarks are also plagued by serious deferred maintenance and few have any endowment whatsoever. What will happen to these sites in the next ten years? Harris provides a decision-making methodology as well as a dozen case studies of house museums that have made a successful transition to a new owner or user to assure the continuing preservation of the landmark for generations to come."