The National Trust + Facebook Marketplace

Everyone and everything seems to be on Facebook these days, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Facebook has surpassed its competitors in terms of online networking, fan pages, and now there is a Facebook Marketplace. The marketplace allows users to post items for sale, jobs, housing, wanted, and other.  Facebook’s latest initiative is “Celebrities Selling for a Cause”. 

The celebrity supporting the preservation world is actress Jennifer Coolidge, who is selling a dress she wore in Legally Blonde. The proceeds from the sale will be donated to the National Trust.  Want to join in the efforts? You can sell your unwanted possessions as well and have the money go towards the National Trust or you can buy an item that supports the National Trust.

For more information see this blog post by Sarah Heffern at PreservationNation (the National Trust blog) and visit the National Trust Facebook page and the Facebook Marketplace. As always, every little bit of fundraising adds up to make a big difference.

Coincidentally, it happens to be time for spring cleaning!  A clean house and good karma and a successful preservation world – what more could you want?! Let us know what you’re selling.

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Articles + Categories

Again, a call for articles for the June 2009 issue of Preservation in Pink. Need article ideas? I would like to see a few articles/essays (or even short paragraph responses) that can answer one or more of these questions:

1. Why do you love historic preservation?

2. How do you think historic preservation can “save the world”?

3. How do you describe historic preservation to those who are unfamiliar with the field?

4. Why does historic preservation matter?

5. What are the drawbacks of historic preservation?

These questions have been answered by the National Trust and other organizations, each in their own way; however, these are subjects that deserve thought and consideration from everyone in the field. 

Other articles:

1. Traveling as a preservation (or as a non-preservationist)

2. How has the environment + sustainability movement touched your life?

3. Work stories and experience

4. Preservation home projects from organizing your family archives to restoring a historic house

This is not an inclusive list – all other ideas are welcome, from conventional to unconventional, photographs and other artwork included.

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On a different note, I have been working to clean up the categories of all of the posts. You’ll notice changes on the categories sidebar for the next week or so. In the end, it should be more user friendly for finding what you want on Preservation in Pink.

Thanks!

Earth Hour Reminder

Saturday March 28, 2009 – tomorrow – turn off your lights from 8:30 – 9:30 pm (your local time) as part of the international initiative, Earth Hour, to take a collective stand against Global Warming.  As the website says, your light switch is your vote. By switching off the light for one hour it represents that you care about the climate and want to see changes and make changes.  Join international landmarks, cities, and people across the world as they speak up for global sustainability.  See last Friday’s post about Earth Hour for more details.

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Historic Preservation Quotes

Do you ever find yourself looking for a good, inspirational quote pertaining to historic preservation one that will offer extra motivation when necessary or easily offer an answer to why does historic preservation matter?  To my knowledge, no one has created one of those small gift books that you can find in stationery stores and drugstores.  Let me know when you find it. In the meantime, the South Carolina SHPO created a collection of such historic preservation quotes.  Some of the quotes paragraphs excerpted from classic texts, whereas other are short, sweet, and to the point.  Take a look, you’ll find one that you like. Click here for the pdf link.

Two quotes from the collection:

It has been said that, at its best, preservation engages the past in a conversation with the present over a mutual concern for the future.

William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America (New York: Sterling Publishing Co., Inc., 1988), p. 168.  

 The past is not the property of historians; it is a public possession. It belongs to anyone who is aware of it, and it grows by being shared. It sustains the whole society, which always needs the identity that only the past can give. In the Grapes of Wrath John Steinbeck pictures a group of Oklahoma farm wives loading their goods into an old truck for the long trip to California. They did not have many possessions, but there was not room for what they had.

“The women sat among the doomed things, turning them over and looking past them and back. This book. My father had it. He liked a book. Pilgrim’s Progress. Used to read it. Got his name in it. And his pipe—still smells rank. And this picture—an angel. I looked at that before the fust three come—didn’t seem to do much good. Think we could get this china dog in? Aunt Sadie brought it from the St. Louis fair. See? Wrote right on it. No, I guess not. Here’s a letter my brother wrote the day before he died. Here’s an old-time hat. These feathers—never got to use them. No, there isn’t room …. How can we live without our lives? How will we know it’s us without our past?”  (Steinbeck).

These are not members of a historical society. They had never seen a museum or a memorial. They were just people, asking a poignant and universal question: “How will we know it’s us without our past?” We do not choose between the past and the future; they are inseparable parts of the same river.

Dr. Walter Havighurst, Quoted by Carl Feiss in U.S. Conference of Mayors, With Heritage So Rich (New York: Random House, 1966), p. 1-2. 

Alabama #3: Sloss Furnaces

 A series of Wednesday posts about Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding area.                     See Post #1 and Post #2.  This is Post #3.

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Sloss Furnaces in Birmingham, Alabama is a National Historic Landmark and the only 20th century blast furnace in the country to be preserved and interpreted as a historic industrial site.  Sloss Furnaces began operating in 1882, and in the 1920s, at its height, 500 workers produced 400 tons of pig iron per day.  Pig iron is smelted iron ore and coke (fuel derived from coal) that is used to make wrought iron, cast iron, and steel. Birmingham is often referred to as the Pittsburgh of the South, for the abundance of iron producing resources located within 30 miles of the city: minerals, coal, ore, and clay. The furnace, just one of many around Birmingham, operated until 1971, after undergoing modernizations and holding out in a dying industry to due changing production methods.

Sloss Furnaces has been a National Historic Landmark since 1981, the first industrial site of its kind to be considered for this designation. The Historic American Engineering Record (HAER) documented the site. To see the documentation (photographs, data pages, documents, measured drawings), see here, in the American Memory project of the Library of Congress. Today Sloss Furnaces serves as a historic site as well as a location for community and civic events.

Visiting Sloss Furnaces was a unique experience. We could walk almost anywhere we wanted to, gaze at old engines, furnaces, pipes, and other unidentifiable (to us, anyway) mechanisms. We arrived with about 30 minutes to spare before closing, but could have easily spent much more time wandering around inside and outside. Without having industrial knowledge, it is difficult to describe. Yet, it was my favorite place in Birmingham. To walk around in this place and imagine how it must have smelled, the sounds, the dust, the employees working long hours in the heat, is almost like stepping back in time.

There were a few engraved, informational plaques throughout the furnaces, but mostly it was unguided in all senses of the word. Nothing was blocked, though common sense tells you not to walk down the basement stairs that will lead to two inches of standing water in the same way that it tells you not to climb up the ladder to the ceiling even though it’s open and within reach. Having only experienced places where everything is so guarded, an opportunity to roam free and see everything on your own was amazing. The downside was that we couldn’t really answer our own questions, whereas a guide could have helped. However, we did not visit the gift shop and information desk before walking through (again, we were short on time) – but it would have been a good idea.

It seems like there would be many liability issues with open stairwells and so many mechanisms (albeit nonfunctional) within everyone’s reach. But I hope that the freedom for visitors of Sloss Furnaces remains because being able to slip around a corner and not feel like you’re on this forced path is a rare chance at historic sites. Some paths are clearly marked on the outside, but once inside it was the free roaming experience. Most of us cannot imagine what it was like to work during the industrial age. Visiting Sloss Furnaces increased my appreciation and awe for this period of history. I would gladly go back to spend a few hours (with more information to enhance my visit).

Because there are so many pictures to share, I’m including a gallery. Click on the photograph to get the larger image. Depending on your browser, you may be able to zoom in further. Some remain unlabeled because I do not know what it is.

A True Road Trip & a GPS

One of the iconic American adventures is the cross-country road trip.  Americans find road trips enthralling and glamorous, romanticized by ideas of the wind blowing, music playing, taking photographs, and bonding with your road trip companions, gas stations, rest stops, the middle of nowhere, adventure, no time commitments, and freedom. So many people imagine just packing up the car, driving away from the “real world” and having the time of their lives. The automobile and the highways have always given us tangible freedom.

Begin dreaming about the open road.  Answer this: which roads would you drive? Would you take the interstate or small highways? Would you have a destination (or is the journey the destination)? Would you plan ahead? Would you know how to begin? It’s a lot to consider. What constitutes a road trip? How do you define it? To me, a road trip should be as little interstate as possible, stops off the road, sightseeing on the way, staying in a town just because it’s a good place to stop, good music, belongings packed into the car … you get the idea.

I don’t like interstates, unless there is not another option or it’s necessary to squeeze in a weekend trip and a long drive. Interstates are efficient and practical with rest stops, but generally, interstates are boring, incredibly boring. Driving across I-20 & I-85 in South Carolina & Georgia to and from Birmingham was one of my least favorite long drives (barring terrible traffic on I-95). The most exciting vision was the Gaffney, SC peach.  However, I imagine that off the interstate would be a wonderful trip through small towns, big towns, the country, and a much better meeting with the states that the two – four lane interstates with billboards and shopping strips. Keep this in mind.

So, you are any average American citizen planning to travel across the country. Most of us will get directions from Google, MapQuest, AAA (and get free maps!), or the now common GPS. Very few of us can just start driving and use an atlas as we go; hence, the directions. Plus, having directions already can you plan for stops, saving time, energy, and money. The problem is that all of these methods send you by way of interstates, even if it’s not the shortest route. My mother recalls that AAA used to give scenic routes and helpful information, but in all of our recent experiences, it’s purely highlighting the route that MapQuest offers on the computer.

How are you supposed to see the best parts of America from the interstate? What if you want to take the scenic route, but don’t feel comfortable with just a map to guide you? As soon as you veer from the GPS’ directions, it tries to get you to turn around and head back to the intended route as soon as possible.

Consider a GPS program that would offer road trip ideas, itineraries, and routes. This would give people road trips who do not know where to begin or want something different. Or it would help to fuse the journey as part of the adventure. In fact, travelers can download turn-by-turn directions for a Route 66 adventure. And there is a Microsoft software program, Streets & Trips, that allows travelers to create their full trip itinerary, stops and all, ahead of time. It is a GPS receiver that plugs into a laptop, which needs to be plugged into your car and allows for rerouting and other alterations en route. Another GPS directed trip is from the GaperGuide, which allows people to take the driving tours of Yellowstone National Park and the Grand Tetons National Park, offering information (history, stories, statistics, facts) about what visitors see along the way.

I can’t speak for any of these programs, but at least there are options for road trippers. However, if GPS scenic routes were created and people started traveling just a few roads, then problems of traffic, infrastructure, bypassing other places, etc. would possibly arise.  Granted, there would be many issues to resolve. Perhaps the GPS programs could start with historic routes in addition to Route 66, like the Lincoln Highway or the Dixie Highway or US Route 11.

How would you plan your road trip? Any suggestions for routes? Yes or no to the GPS road trip idea?

Call for Articles for June 2009

Writers, photographers, preservationists & all…

it’s time to start thinking of ideas for the June 2009 newsletter (Volume III, Issue 1). As usual, all ideas are welcome and encouraged – travel, historic preservation, days on the job, theories, archaeology, museums, architecture, planning, flamingos, books, coffee… etc. More details to follow on this issue, but please send me your thoughts! The deadline will be mid May 2009.

Need incentive for writing an article? You will receive a Preservation in Pink magnet (image coming soon).

Flamingo Friday

Happy Spring! Since this is Preservation in Pink (flamingos), we need some actual flamingos to appear on this blog.  The complement the spring season. These flamingos are at the San Diego Zoo. That fluffy gray bird is a baby flamingo.  (So cute). Did you know that flamingos (adults anyway) are different shades of pink depending on what they eat?

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flamingos

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 Thank you for visiting and reading Preservation in Pink!

Earth Hour

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Want to make a statement about climate change? Want to see your neighborhood without lights? Have you ever heard of Vote Earth? It began as an initiative in Sydney, Australia to get citizens to get to turn off their lights, to make a statement about climate change. What is the statement? That you care about the earth and the future. It’s less about the action of turning off your light having an impact, as it as about the collective stand to make a difference, with one little action by everyone. Small steps make a big difference when many people join together.

The 2009 goal is to involve one billion people and more than 1000 cities. So far 64 countries are participating. Major cities, including New York City and San Francisco and Rome participated, all turning off lights of iconic landmarks.

So what can you do? Turn off your lights from 8:30 – 9:30 pm (your time) on Saturday March 28, 2009. Light candles, have a bonfire, gaze at the stars, enjoy the darkness. Check out the website for blogging widgets, posters, stickers, letters, advice on how to encourage others in your community. See ideas here. It is only one hour of your Saturday night. It’s just 60 minutes. You can do it! Turn off all of your lights. Step outside and go for a stroll and consider how great of an initiative this is. People all over the world believe in choosing to protect the earth, together. Read the website, take action, and vote earth! Click here to sign up to make sure that your participation is counted.

I’ll be sure to post a reminder on March 27 and then participate on March 28! That’s 8 days away! Once the hour is over, share your experiences.

Feel free to share this post on your own blog. Spread the word!3251958713_f1506c74f8

Alabama #2: Downtown Birmingham Streets & Buildings

 A series of Wednesday posts about Birmingham, Alabama and the surrounding area. See Post #1.  This is Post #2.

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Most everyone who asks about our trip to Birmingham wants to know our first impressions, since they have not visited nor do they think of Birmingham in the modern day sense. What is there, they ask.  My preservation influenced first impressions? Downtown Birmingham is an interesting place. And no, I don’t know what I expected because I hadn’t imagined visiting Birmingham until recently.

The afternoon began in the Arts district at a great locally owned coffee shop and cafe, Urban Standard.  With exposed brick walls, locally made gifts, delicious food and cupcakes, antiques, wifi, and great coffee, it is certainly a nice place for breakfast, lunch, or coffee. This part of downtown was fairly busy, including the company of a herd of skateboarders going up and down the street while being filmed.  Down the block are loft apartments and a few stores. It seems like the area is experiencing a resurgence of interest from citizens and many buildings are undergoing rehabilitation into apartments.

Urban Standard

Urban Standard

Interesting home accessories for sale

Interesting home accessories for sale

Brick walls and coffee

Brick walls and coffee

A beautiful latte sitting on the counter, an antique store display case

A beautiful latte sitting on the counter, an antique store display case

We walked around on a Saturday afternoon, a truly beautiful day with 70 degree, sunny weather, the first nice weekend of the season.  Despite this, the city felt very empty in places. Near the government offices, this made sense since most people do not work on weekends. A few people, but not a crowd by any means, sat in beautiful park, Linn Park, in the center blocks of these buildings (courthouse, libraries, city hall). And the skateboarders appeared again. Linn Park will be the subject of a separate post.

After Linn Park, we walked down a typical historic streetscape, but one with very intriguing buildings that call upon decades earlier. Once again, this section seemed oddly lacking pedestrians. Some stores were in business, others in transitions, and still other buildings sat vacant.

Third Ave in downtown Birmingham

Third Ave in downtown Birmingham

More of the Third Ave streetscape

More of the Third Ave streetscape

One store, formerly Kessler’s, showcased an unusual storefront window.  Today this building is being converted into seven loft apartments with commercial space on the first floor. See this University of Alabama – Birmingham article for a discussion on downtown Birmingham lofts. This was my favorite building and these pictures cannot do it justice (cars would have obstructed better photographs).

Entrance to Kessler's

Entrance to Kessler's

Kessler's storefront - quite impressive! Note the matching floor and ceiling swirl and curved glass windows

Kessler's storefront - quite impressive! Note the matching floor and ceiling swirl and curved glass windows

Another interesting storefront was the California Fashion Mall.

On the corner of Third Ave and 19th Street

On the corner of Third Ave and 19th Street

Further down on Third Avenue is the Alabama Theater, the showcase of the South, and one that deserves its own post.

Downtown Birmingham is large and small at the same time. Obviously, there is a lot to talk about – it won’t fit in one post. Before citizens of Birmingham correct me, let me clarify that I realize that Kelly Ingram Park is also in downtown Birmingham, as some other sites I mention will be; but some places such as Kelly Ingram Park deserve their own post. Granted, some of the talk is about empty buildings; however, don’t let that lead you to assume that Birmingham is sleeping and a boring place. As our friend and host said, you have to look for something to do, but there is a lot to be found, from little shops to events to art galleries to good restaurants and more. See his recommendations at bhamsandwich.com.

For those interested in early to mid century architecture, the streets of Birmingham provide endless entertainment. Birmingham seems like it’s an up-and-coming place, one that will revitalize itself with years of hard work by citizens and growing interest from the students of the numerous universities in and around Birmingham.  Parts of downtown are a bit lonely, but not lonely in the sense of rundown and abandoned – just missing people. I would expect that more people will find their way downtown in the near future. But, now would be the time to visit so you can see the before and so you arrive before prices increase! It is an intriguing place.

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More posts about downtown Birmingham attractions to come next Wednesday.