PiP Media Updates

Preservation in Pink is expanding in the realm of social media. The Preservation in Pink Facebook group has been around for a while, but now there is a Preservation in Pink Facebook fan page. There isn’t a huge difference between a group and a fan page, but PiP is just keeping pace. So if you and your friends like the blog and newsletter, show your love!

You can now follow Preservation in Pink (presinpink) on Twitter. Currently both Facebook and Twitter are receiving the RSS feeds of blog posts. So if you prefer to not have your email inbox filled with PiP posts or your aren’t into Google Reader and such devices, then you can find short url links from your Facebook and Twitter feeds to give you a heads up that there is a new post. However you can still subscribe to PiP via readers and receive posts by email. The email subscription featured on the sidebar is directly from WordPress, which seems to be more efficient than Feedburner for sending emails on time.

Click the images above to become a fan or a follower on Twitter.

Note also a bit of sidebar reorganization on PiP. Find the Facebook and Twitter icons at the bottom of the page. Feel free to use the images in this post or the icons on the sidebar to direct others to PiP. Thank you to Vinny for designing such great logos (I love the road sign vibe of it.)

Any other ideas for PiP and social media?

NPS WebRangers

At many National Parks across the United States, children can become Junior Rangers by completing a book of activities relating to their visit in the park. They talk to park rangers about their answers and then receive a badge, patch, or certificate. To participate in the parks there is an age limit, but now the National Park Service has a WebRanger site for kids of all ages!

The WebRanger website. Choose your own ranger station!

On the WebRangers site, kids can create usernames (or just visit) and begin their adventures. The activities are too numerous to list, but include word games, maps, puzzles, mazes, and many more in order to learn parks’ history, about the work of park rangers, animals, associated people, science, and nature. Kids can even sign up as a Ranger and have a ranger station, track their activities, view webcams, and send e-postcards. Check out the site here.

And the NPS has even more activities for kids interested in the parks, whether it’s a coloring sheet to match the park, fun facts, and much more. Check out the kids archaeology program, where kids can learn about the different types of archaeologists and what they do (it’s not like the WebRangers program, but a good introduction to archaeology).

Way to go National Park Service — the people who are a part of the NPS are always doing great work and really trying to showcase the resources of the parks. So, check it out. I know a few “older” kids who would love to be a WebRanger…

Preservation Photos #16

The haunted Gimghoul Castle (originally Hippol Castle) in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.

Click on the image to read the ghost story.

Thanks to Maria Gissendanner for sending the photograph and the link.

Grad School, Round Two

Here we go again. Grad school semester two began last Tuesday and my classes are pulling full steam ahead — forgot that easing into the semester week. Readings, homework, projects, field work, field trips, everything is marked in my planner. And just one glance through the next few months says that it going to be one challenging semester. Of course, a challenge is always bitter-sweet; something that is often difficult while it’s occurring, but highly appreciated and worthwhile when finished. Luckily, historic preservation tends to be enjoyable even when it’s difficult.

Last semester was often a complementary review to my undergraduate studies; by this I mean that material was familiar, but presented in a new way, one that allowed for a different approach to the subject and one that allowed me to apply my skills to new projects. This semester seems to be new material, that of which I am less familiar with and have not had an opportunity to study or practice in-depth. My courses include Historic Preservation Law, Historic Preservation Practice Methods (think Rehabilitation Investment Tax Credits and National Register Nominations), Architectural Conservation I, and History on the Land (think reading the cultural landscape past to present). I am excited by the projects and research and by the vast amount of information that I will learn this semester. We first year students are also figuring out summer internships and some of us, thesis ideas.  This semester will certainly call for a lot of coffee. However, it seems that my classmates and I are up for the challenge.

Just some of my books for the semester. I had to rearrange my bookshelves, particularly to make room for those binders, which are filled entirely with course packets and reference materials.

The benefit of graduate school, aside from the obvious, is the great improvement to my preservation related library. I love receiving a new syllabus and ordering new (well new to me, but always used) books and waiting for them to arrive in the mail. So often in college I could not wait to sell back my books after final exams, unless they were preservation books. I kept those. Now I don’t get any money after final exams, but I do have a nice collection of books that interest me in and out of classes.

Stacks of other books for my classes lie elsewhere around the apartment because they do not all fit on the (many) bookshelves.

(For anyone interested in the UVM Historic Preservation Program visit the website here or read the course syllabi here.)

School related posts will appear throughout the semester. Any other preservation students want to share their semester anecdotes and lessons?

The Kitten Who Loved Flamingos

Say hello to Izzy again.  This time she’s back, not studying, but hanging out on vacation in full blown flamingo fun.  (Readers, I hope you enjoy these kitten posts as a preservation break.)

Izzy and the flamingo.

Loving her new flamingo toy.

Stalking the flamingo.

Who knew there were flamingo cat toys?

Got it!

Hopefully this isn't how she feels about Preservation in Pink.

*Disclaimer: I did not buy this, but obviously someone who loves me did.

A Lost Historic School: Francis M Drexel School

Exterior of the Drexel School. Click for source.

Take a look at the picture above. What comes to mind? Most observers would be able to say that this building was beautiful in its heyday. It has an impressive institutional feel about it. So, what will happen to it? Doesn’t it look like the perfect subject for adaptive reuse? Why does it look like that? Clearly it is not respected by its neighbors.

What was it? This building, the Francis M Drexel School was built in 1888, designed by architect Joseph Anshutz and financed by Anthony Drexel. Francis M. Drexel was an artist, a banker, a family man, and a philanthropist who wanted to provide education to all regardless of race, gender, or social class. His son Anthony Drexel realized his vision with the construction of approximately 75 schools across Philadelphia, all similar to the one above. It served the Philadelphia city schools until the 1970s, after which is was declared a surplus property. Very few survive intact or survive at all today. The Francis M Drexel School is the oldest extant Drexel School and it does not have a promising fate either.* In December 2009 it demolition was ordered. It will be replaced with brand new luxury town homes. Unfortunately, it is too late to do anything, and demolition will begin next week.

The Francis M Drexel School in Philadelphia, PA.

This building is on the National Register of Historic Places. Visit the exterior and interior photo sections of the Drexel School website to feel the beauty of such a school and the impact of its current condition. It’s heartbreaking, even for someone who has never heard of the building. Trust me, but see for yourself, too. You can also find the blueprints of the school in the blueprints section of the sidebar.

And it is the case of another historic school lost. And perhaps a reminder that it is never too early to advocate for saving a structure — empty buildings never fare well. Was there anything that could have been done? How can we learn from this lesson? Readers, what can we do? This is a situation we find across the country, all of the time. What are your thoughts? A use could easily have been found – it is in the center of a neighborhood, like most historic schools. There is not a resident of that neighborhood who has seen the cityscape without the Francis M Drexel School. Sadly, since it has been surplus since the 1970s, most people have not seen it as an active part of the community. Perhaps they have had trouble looking beyond the neglected building. And with all that time of neglect, it had become unsafe and deemed ineligible for rehabilitation.

What sort of mitigation would be appropriate? Suggestions? Do you have advice or know people in Philadelphia to help, those who care about the school’s memory? Leave a note here or email drexelschool [at] verizon [dot] net. Your help is much appreciated.

*Historical information provided by the Drexel School website: http://www.thedrexelschool.com

Martin Luther King, Jr.

Do you need a refresher on the life of Martin Luther King, Jr.? Read this biography from the National Park Service D.R.E.A.M. gallery (below or click this link):

Martin Luther King, Jr. was born on January 15, 1929. Dr. King grew up as the son of a leading minister in Atlanta, Georgia, the Rev. Martin Luther King, Sr. His mother, Mrs. Alberta Williams King, assisted her husband in the care of his congregation. Because of their efforts and interest in behalf of the congregation and the community, his parents were known as ‘Momma’ and ‘Daddy’ King. His community, centered on Auburn Avenue in Atlanta also influenced him. By the 1930s when he was a child, it was the center of business and social life in Black Atlanta and the major center for the Black Southeast. The community was so successful that nationwide, it was known as “Sweet Auburn”. The residential neighborhoods of the community, and especially the one where Dr. King was born were known for the diversity of the backgrounds of the residents. Though all Black, the neighborhoods had business people, laborers, college-educated, uneducated, rich, poor and successful all living close to each other.

As a boy, Dr. King experienced many of the same things most children do. He helped and played games with his older sister Christine and his younger brother A. D. He played baseball on vacant lots and rode his bicycle in the streets. He went to school at David T. Howard Elementary, three blocks from his home. He attended the Butler Street YMCA down Auburn Avenue. When the family moved to the house on Boulevard, he was attending Booker T. Washington High School, working a newspaper route, attending his first dances, and planning to attend college. But, Dr. King’s primary memories of his childhood were of the sting of segregation.

In 1941 Daddy King moved the family to a brick home. Here King continued his development and education until he graduated from Morehouse College in 1948. Dr. King still lived in this home when he attended College here in Atlanta, starting at the age of fifteen. After graduation he left for graduate work at Crozer Theological Seminary, then in Chester, Pennsylvania (now Colgate Rochester divinity School/Bexley Hall/Crozer Theological Seminary in Rochester, New York), and at Boston University. He became pastor at The Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery Alabama in 1954 and served there until 1960. From 1960 until 1968 he was co-pastor, with his father, of Ebenezer Baptist Church on Auburn Avenue, where his grandfather, Rev. A. D. Williams had also been pastor.

Starting with the Montgomery Bus Boycott in 1955-1956, Dr. King was also the foremost leader of the Civil Rights Movement. His dedication to the tactics of non-violent resistance led to successful campaigns in Montgomery, AL, Birmingham, AL, and Selma,AL as well as encouraging African-Americans throughout the South to campaign for their own freedom. After 1965, He expanded his work to include actions in the North, opposition to the War in Vietnam, and planning for a campaign to aid poor people.

Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated on April 4, 1968 by James Earl Ray.

Visit the birthplace of Martin Luther King, Jr. birthplace (NPS site) in Atlanta, GA.

Caring for and Recording Historic Buildings

Preservation in Pink January 2010

Want to read about bears, historic houses, and responsibilities? Of course. Read Melissa Celii’s article, “Teaching the Care of Historic Homes In Order to Maintain Value & Integrity” for her thoughtful discussion and possible solutions for those who are unable to afford the care of their historic houses. The article is filled with her usual wit and humor, and a lovely anecdote about bears. See pages 6-7.

What about houses in Scotland? Are you thinking of castles? In his article, “Architectural Audit of Aberdeen,” Jonathan Scott explains the conservation areas of place beyond castles, the towns and villages of Scotland and the project, the architectural audit, that is recording them. It’s similar but different to the United States preservation practices. Jonathan gives readers a good, short lesson in international preservation. See pages 8-9.

Preservation of Heirloom Seeds

Preservation in Pink January 2010

Taking historic preservation to another level, Jennifer Parsons writes about the preservation efforts for heirloom seeds. She discusses the importance of agricultural and seed diversity to our historic landscapes. Consider a historic house with a proper historic,heirloom seed garden.

Read Jennifer’s article, “Think Small in Your Preservation Efforts: Plant a Seed!” on pages 18-19.