One Girl Scout + One Rosenwald School = Inspiring Youth in Preservation {Guest Post by Julia Bache}

While attending the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis, I had the pleasure to meet Julia Bache, a high school student who recently completed a successful National Register nomination as part of her Girl Scout Gold Award, and presented at the conference. She is delightful and quite impressive! At Julia’s age, I had not heard of historic preservation and here she is already writing National Register nominations. It’s so encouraging to hear high school students are interested in the field. I asked Julia if she’d be willing to share her story with Preservation in Pink readers. Below is her guest post. (Of course, I recommended the University of Mary Washington’s Historic Preservation program to them).

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By Julia Bache

I was so excited to meet Kaitlin at the National Trust Conference in Indianapolis a few weeks ago! I have enjoyed following her posts here on Preservation in Pink and am honored to share my preservation efforts with you!

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O'Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

Julia Bache and Kaitlin O’Shea in Indianapolis, pictured at a display in the conference expo hall.

At the conference, I spoke about the Rosenwald Schools and about how to engage youth in historic preservation. I also learned from other speakers and met many inspirational preservationists. Kaitlin and the other professionals showed me that historic preservation is something that we can always take part in, putting out talents and passion to work!

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in  Indianapolis, 2013.

Julia presenting at the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, 2013.

As a sophomore in high school, I was ready to begin my Girl Scout Gold Award Project. Scanning the web for possible projects, I found a nomination form for a Rosenwald School that had just been listed on the National Register. Reading this form, I knew that I wanted to help preserve these endangered sites for my Gold Award project.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia's NR nomination.

Buck Creek School, the subject of Julia’s NR nomination.

 I decided to nominate a Rosenwald School in my area, the Buck Creek School. I began diving into the remarkable history of the Rosenwald Schools. I read about the builders of these schools, Julius Rosenwald and Booker T. Washington, and how they teamed up with so many communities to provide children with better education.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

Julia conducting an oral history interview for historical research.

 I was amazed to find that over 5,000 Rosenwald Schools were built in 15 southern states, serving about one-third of the African American students in the south. They set new standards for African American education by providing nicer facilities, dedicated teachers, and a longer school term. I found it incredible that Rosenwald and Washington were able to break the racial barrier during the Jim Crow era to start this program and improve the education for so many children.

After writing the NR form, I presented the nomination to the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board. In March 2013, the Buck Creek School was officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places!

Julia's presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

Julia’s presentation at the Kentucky Historic Preservation Review Board.

I wanted to do more to educate the public about the need to preserve the Rosenwald Schools. As the second phase of my Gold Award Project, I created a traveling museum exhibition to share the Rosenwald Schools’ history. My traveling exhibition has been displayed in museums, historical societies, and public libraries across the state and will continue to tour into my senior year.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

Julia in front of her Rosenwald School exhibition.

My project has taught me that people from varied backgrounds can come together through a common love of history and make a difference by preserving it for the future.

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Thank you, Julia. You are an inspiration; I hope there are many students like you. Readers, are you a youth in preservation with a  story to share (or do you know any)? I’d love to hear about your passion and projects. 

Preservation Training Opportunity in Vermont

Looking for an excuse to head to snowy, beautiful Vermont in January? If you’re interested in historic buildings, rehabilitation of buildings, and would like to learn more about building codes and ADA, then plan on visiting Vermont in January. This workshop is a great deal, you earn AIA credits, and you’ll be much more informed about the confusing rules of accessibility. See details below.

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Historic Buildings, New Accessibility Rules & Codes Training Day

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

7:30 am – 3:00 pm

Vermont Technical College – ‘Old Schoolhouse’

Randolph, VT

  • Some of the most common questions builders and designers have are about new accessibility requirements, modifying historic buildings, and in particular modifying historic buildings for greater accessibility.
  • This seminar seeks to clarify Vermont’s building codes by bringing together three experts: from ADA-New England, the preservation community, and the Division of Fire Safety. Presentations and discussions will focus on case studies suggested by participants.
  • All participants in the workshop will receive complimentary membership in BSA-VT.
  • This course earns 6 AIA-HSW CEUs.

OBJECTIVES

Upon completion of this seminar, participants will be better able to:

  • understand and apply Vermont’s current Access Rules (based on the new version of ADA, 2010)
  • understand Vermont’s categories of new construction and renovation, including which codes apply
  • apply Chapter 43 of NFPA to existing and historic buildings
  • evaluate the balance between requirements for new and existing construction, as well as accessibility, with historic structures
  • discuss strategies for design/construction with building officials, owners, and other professionals.

INSTRUCTORS

  • Kathy Gips, Director of Training, New England ADA Center
  • Judy Hayward, Executive Director, Historic Windsor and Preservation Education Institute
  • Bob Patterson, Deputy Director, Vermont Dept. Public Safety’s Division of Fire Safety

SUBMIT YOUR PROJECT QUESTIONS & CASE STUDIES! 

Please email your questions about specific code and construction circumstances for review during the session to: Sandra Vitzthum

REGISTRATION

$60 per person includes the full day of training, continental breakfast, lunch. To sign up, please visit http://www.buildsafevt.org/

STORM ARRANGEMENTS

We have made arrangements to re-schedule the event to Jan 16 if necessary; the meeting will be held in Berlin VT if this happens. Final decision will be made by 8:30 am 1/14 and emailed to all participants. You can also check our website for updates.

PresConf Recap: Education Sessions

Gather thousands of preservationists together and there is a lot to talk about, which is more than buildings. Sessions discussed historic sites, publicity, economic revitalization, energy efficiency, social media, the 50 year “rule”, diversity, new ideas for building uses, community advocacy, bridge rehabilitation, federal laws (NEPA & NHPA), and much more. While it’s great to have so many choices for which sessions to attend, my complaint is that there are too many options. Having to choose from one of five or more at one time makes me feel like I’m missing out on important education opportunities. Of course that tends to sound like a “first world problem” but I’m letting you know how busy a National Trust conference can be.

Each session is worthy of discussion, but for this overview I’ll note some of my biggest takeaways (ideas and/or food for thought) and go into greater detail in subsequent posts. You can also find recaps from the Preservation Leadership Forum blog for the whole conference and daily recaps.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Held in the Madame Walker Theater.

Conversation Starter: Diversity in Preservation: Rethinking Standards and Practices

A conversation starter worked like this: a panel provided the background information and set the stage for discussion on the topic. Audience members wrote questions on index cards and the moderator selected questions for the panel to answer. This panel discussed how preservation is building focused; preservationists speak the language of buildings. Yet, how does that impact important places that do not have significant buildings anymore (perhaps they are lost or have lost historic integrity)? Is there a way to make ordinary buildings significant? It’s the discussion of authenticity v. integrity. How much of a role does association play? Is the National Register effective in preserving our significant places? Where are we moving in the future? Are we changing standards or practices, both or none?

As you can surmise, this was a great panel for getting your preservation theory & practices brain working overtime. Rather than being told what to think, the audience participated in the conversation, making the session feel like a good class in school when we’d all sit around and talk theory.

New Media, New Audiences: Case Studies in Social Media

The much anticipated social media panel (one of the panels) with Kayla, Dana, Michelle, and Meagan. Each of us discussed how we use social for preservation work, individually and for our organizations and advocacy. Following the brief presentations, the audience divided into groups of five. We answered questions about social media, helped people work through their challenges and consider what might work for their needs. Each group was different, and all sounded like they went over well. At the end of the group breakout session, everyone wrote their lessons learned on 8×11 analog Twitter cards to tape on the wall sharing what they learned or another thought from the session.

Why is social media at a preservation conference? Simply stated, social media is not only for our personal lives. It can help our organizations be included in conversations throughout communities and across the country. It builds relationships and increases networks in a more genuine way than some might expect from social media. (After all, we preservationists love authenticity, so we’re going to be ourselves, right?) Our goal was to show that social media (whether blogging, Twitter, Facebook, etc.) can help to share powerful messages and create support for preservation causes. And it’s not just for the younger generations, nor do you have to use all of the social media avenues. It’s also fun. In other words, go ahead, jump on the preservation + social media bandwagon. You’ll be glad you did.

Our analog Twitter wall!

Our analog Twitter wall!

Seaside as A Historic District: Evaluating the Significance of New Urbanism Developments

Another one of my favorite sessions, hearkening to the day of Mary Washington where we were fascinated by New Urbanism developments (because some, quite frankly, were creepy, whereas others seemed like good places to live. Though we were unable to decide if preservationists could live in new developments, however well designed, because of all of the historic homes and communities out there). This session presented examples of planned communities throughout American history (think Radburn, NJ, all the Levittowns, the Greenbelt communities) and then discussed new communities (new urbanism) such as Seaside, FL and Reston, VA. What is the correlation between new urbanism and historic preservation? Are these new communities too Disney-like or gentrified? And the discussion led back to our favorite terms of significance and authenticity. The best thought to share: New urbanism is learning to build new cities in the fashion of successful old cities (i.e. old urbanism?), which have survived because of historic preservation. Perhaps the two fields: historic preservation and urban planning have more in common than previously thought.

Spans to Somewhere: Creative Outcomes for Large Transportation Projects in Historic Settings

A big transportation project is near and dear to my heart due to my days with the Lake Champlain Bridge. Unfortunately many of our larger historic bridges are at risk for demolition because they no longer meet the service levels or have suffered deterioration. This session discussed the Milton-Madison Bridge as well as the Louisville, KY bridge projects and how the communities worked to mitigate the loss of their bridge. While the regulatory world (Section 106 & Section 4(f)) isn’t often discussed in National Trust sessions, it is important to remember that the laws do play a role in everyone’s lives. And community input is an important part of these regulations. Citizens (stakeholders) can help to direct the outcome of a project, when working with the decision makers. The outcome can include rehabilitation, or it can include mitigation (a unique bridge design, historic research or documentation, interpretive panels, preservation planning, etc.)

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Those are just a few of the sessions and a few thoughts – hopefully some to get your preservation brain intrigued. If you attended the conference, what were some of your favorite sessions?

PresConf Recap: Welcome to the Big Show, Preservationists! (Or, the Opening Plenary)

As mentioned, the preservation conference can feel like a whirlwind, in a good way. There are many field sessions and events to choose from, in addition to the education sessions. Even if you’re indecisive, you’ll likely to end up in a good place. Some events, however, are not to be missed.

The Opening Plenary is the official opening for conference attendees (though meetings and field sessions do occur prior), wherein the President of the NTHP, conference chairs, et. al, and the guest speaker welcomes everyone and gives opening remarks. This year’s opening plenary was held in the Hilbert Circle Theater in Columbus Circle in Indianapolis on Wednesday October 30.

Hilbert Circle Theater

Hilbert Circle Theater

Time for Three (self proclaimed world’s first classically trained garage band) began the plenary with a captivating performance. The group is in residence with the Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra and has won and Indiana Innovation Award. With two violins and a double bass, this was one of my favorite live performances.

Stephanie Meeks, NTHP President, spoke about historic house museums and how our go-to system just isn’t working. Saving buildings by converting them into house museum is seldom the best use, unless you are Mount Vernon or Monticello. That model, which was once our way we knew how to save a building (think Ann Pamela Cunningham and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association) needs to be reprogrammed. Meeks based her talk on discussion from the book New Solutions for House Museums by Donna Ann Harris. (Read her entire speech here.) Meeks suggests that it’s time to reconsider how our buildings operate; in other words, bring noncommercial (i.e. museum or nonprofit) and retail side by side. Give the building life all of the time. Recharge it! We’re rethinking historic sites. The National Trust is leading by example – moving out of its current home (Dupont City HQ) to the historic Watergate building. While a difficult decision, it was the right move for the building and for the NTHP, and the building is sold with preservation easements. Agreements like this can help interested buyers and sellers to protect historic buildings while giving them the proper use.

Another view in the theatre.

Another view in the theatre.

Another highlight of the plenary was the guest speaker Henry Glassie, Professor Emeritus of Folklore at Indiana University. If you are a Mary Washington Historic Preservation graduate like me, it was a flashback to Professor Gary Stanton’s lectures about vernacular architecture. Glassie gave a lighthearted, but well informed overview of Indiana architectural history; he is a wonderful speaker. Did you know that the I-house was named so because architectural historian Fred Niffen found this style in Indiana and Illinois? All these years, I had no idea. Glassie also offered that the mobile home and the log cabin have similarities including geographic distribution in that they are both shelter of the working poor. A thoroughly enjoyable evening!

Following the opening plenary, everyone headed to the opening reception at the Athenaeum Building in Indy, built in 1890 for the culture of the community. The reception spanned multiple floors including The Rathskeller (the city’s oldest restaurant, estab. 1894) which is in the basement. Attendees mingled, talked preservation, made introductions, and enjoyed some food and drink. The event was also a host for the #BuiltHeritage Tweet-up. Finally, an opportunity to meet my preservation social media friends (wherein I hugged everyone)!

Windows above our tweetup.

Windows above our tweetup.

By the end of the night, I had scribbled notes in my #presconf notebook already filled with quotes from Meeks and Glassie; I met (sort of new) friends; experienced just a few of Indy’s beautiful historic sites, and felt that sense of preservation happiness being among “my people.” Overall, what a great evening and a fantastic way to kick off the conference.

PresConf Recap: People of Preservation

Sessions, site seeing, photographing buildings, fun events, educational and inspiring speakers – the NTHP and Indianapolis put together a fabulous experience for the 2000+ preservationists and friends

October 30 – November 2, 2013. There’s much to say and much to share, and PiP will cover the conference in segments: people, sessions, events, buildings, and travel. First up: PEOPLE.

Historic preservation is place. It is buildings. But most of all, it is people. Preservation wouldn’t be anywhere without its people. Attending the National Trust for Historic Preservation conference in Indianapolis, IN this past week provided the strongest examples of just how important people are to preservation. It is inspiring to meet preservationists who have such diverse jobs and niches, yet who are all working to further the preservation cause.

New Media, New Audiences panel:

New Media, New Audiences panel: Dana Saylor, Julia Rocchi, Kaitlin O’Shea, Kayla Jonas Galvin, Michelle Kimball, Meagan Baco. More about this social media session to come, but these inspiring women standing with me are just some of the people to which I’m referring.

I’m grateful to live in and participate in the social media sector of preservation. After years of knowing fellow preservationists through blogs, Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, finally I had the chance to meet so many passionate people. If you’re one of the social media crew: I probably hugged you – that’s how happy I was to meet you. How interesting it is to have this network across the country (and the world, in some cases), to build these relationships and to know what each other is working on in the field (and some outside of work) even before we meet. We are non-profit employees, government employees, self-employed individuals, writers, artists, photographers, and advocates with projects ranging from one building to an entire city to the entire field of preservation. What an honor to meet everyone. Some of the social media crew includes:

Beyond the social media crowd and network, it’s wonderful to know accomplished preservationists, students, and locals. The Preservation Conference is the place where you can talk to any preservationist; you already have the common ground of preservation, so just strike up a conversation. I was lucky to speak with Stephanie Meeks, President of the NTHP; Vince Michael of the NTHP and the blog Time Tells. I met a 16 year student who has already written a National Register nomination for a Rosenwald School (and it’s been accepted). And this is just the beginning. Everyone is sincerely excited for the field, for each other, and it’s a motivating, inspiring experience. Mix everyone together and you’ll be on a preservation high! The annual preservation conference is one of the best ways to be reinvigorated and inspired. I look forward to future conversations and conferences.

Indy Love

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What a wonderful whirlwind of preservation events, travels, and friends this past week. Now that it’s back to the normal preservation life, there is time to process and share the adventures and lessons. Indianapolis was a wonderful hostess! Stay tuned throughout this week; I have a lot to write, say, and share.

Preservation ABCs: W is for Window

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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W is for Window

W is for Window.

W is for Window.

Of course W is for Window. Windows are significant features of every building, indicative of technology, design, trends, architectural style and period. Original windows give much character to a building. When original (historic) windows are replaced, the ability to read a building’s architectural style (it’s identity) is lost, at least partially.

Original windows are better quality than most replacement windows, especially vinyl windows. Please do not replace your windows. The money you spend on replacement, you will not recoup. A better bet is to install storm windows or to do easy, inexpensive energy saving tricks like weather stripping or energy shades will go a long way. And most of the energy loss leaves through your roof, not your window! This is an excellent window guide with a labeled window diagram (learn your sash from your sill from your stile) from the National Trust.

Historic preservationists discuss windows often because there are many rumors against keeping original windows, even those that can be repaired. New windows will never look the same. Look at the window in the photograph above; can you imagine how much character would be lost with another window?!

If a window cannot be repaired or must be replaced, it is best to replace a window in-kind (i.e. a wood window for a wood window with the same sash pattern). But if you can, save your money. Save your windows. Here’s a tip: most historic windows can be repaired because they were made with older growth timber. The wood we have today is not the same.

Next time you see a historic house that you love, take note of the windows. I’ll bet the windows are original or are appropriate replacements.

Preservation ABCs: V is for Viewshed

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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V is for Viewshed

The viewshed of historic downtown Montpelier, VT.

The viewshed of historic downtown Montpelier, VT. {click for sharper image}

Viewshed can be applied broadly, depending on the resource, but an easy way to understand it is like this: (1) Consider the historic property. (2) What would its surroundings have looked like during its period of significance? (3) Evaluate what changes would adversely affect that view from the historic property? (4) What is the view to the historic property from other locations?

For example, a neighborhood of small bungalows overlooking the lake would have an altered viewshed if high condominiums were constructed between the houses the lake. Think of the monstrous beach houses that block the views of the older, smaller homes. Or a historic farmstead – house, barns, outbuildings, fields – would lose its viewshed if all of the neighboring properties were developed.

This isn’t to say that all development can destroy the integrity of a viewshed; rather, new development must be done in a considerate manner with designs compatible to the historic character of its neighbors. How do you protect a viewshed? Identify what is in view from/to the property. An easement might fit the purpose of protection, or design ordinances on a municipal/town level.

Take a look at the photograph above. Both sides of the streets are lined with historic building blocks, and all are contributing properties in the Montpelier historic district. What if one of those building blocks were removed due to development pressures or fire, for example? The view of the district would be altered. Sympathetic and compatible infill would need to be constructed in order to save the integrity of the district.

Why does viewshed matter? It relates to the setting, association, and feeling of a historic property, which are three of the seven aspects of integrity, as per the National Register of Historic Places, the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior. Change the viewshed and you’ve altered the integrity, and quite possibly the significance of that historic property.

Pop Quiz Round-Up

Someone get a lasso, because these pop quizzes are out of control without answers. Let’s review, shall we? Some of these have correct answers in the comments already, but I’ll include them here for the purpose of the round-up.  And some could remain in discussion for a while – it would certainly give us cause for field trips and discussions.

(1) Pop Quiz: December 12, 2012 – What is this? 

popquiz1212.jpg

Answer: Wallpaper in a foyer (of the house of a fellow preservationist). This wallpaper covered the entire entry and stairway. It was a bit blinding, as you can imagine. But also incredibly neat. Her compromise? Leave one wall. The date is unknown, but the 1960s or 1970s would seem accurate and it is definitely metallic flocked wallpaper.

(2) Pop Quiz – January 21, 2013 – What is that grooved wood? 

Answer: Novelty siding, which was popular in the early 20th century. This house was built in the 1930s, which fits with the time frame. And it’s exciting to know that it still exists on some parts of the house.

(3) Pop Quiz – April 1, 2013 – Name this object. 

Answer: A boot scraper that remains on the streets of Fredericksburg, VA.

(4) Pop Quiz – April 10, 2013 – Name this object. 

Answer: This is a survey tool for measuring distances, but specifically for railroads; it fits on the railroad track. These are the sorts of things found when the Agency of Transportation cleans house!

(5) Pop Quiz – May 2, 2013 – Name that window type. 

Answer: This is the one everyone has been waiting for, and I hate to disappoint, but I still don’t have the exact answer. Such is the story with architectural history sometimes. The facade of this barn has obviously been heavily altered, with only a hay door remaining of its original fenestration. My instinct says it is not original to the building. I think I’ll have to get the State Architectural Historian to answer this one.  This is located in Wallingford, VT.

(6) Pop Quiz – June 20, 2013 – Which windows are original? 

Answer: The comments are varied, but generally agree that the picture windows are ca. 1950 and a later alteration. The screen door would match the time period of the picture windows. The part that throws me a curve ball is that the windows on either side of the picture windows have muntins that match the color and style of those on the sunroom.  The roofline has been extended over the sunroom, which was possibly just a flat roof extension from the main block of the house. The window above the door is a replacement, which you can read from the two latches/locks. If it helps, this house is in the village of East Burke, VT. My thoughts: the picture windows and the sunroom windows were added at the same time, replacing more traditional fenestration. The window in the gable was a more recent replacement. Do you agree?

(7) Pop Quiz – July 17, 2013 – What is going on in this photo? 

Answer: Blown in cellulose insulation. You can see this easily in colder climates. It’s easier to have it done from the exterior rather than the interior (which would leave plaster to repair, or holes in your drywall). Once you see these, it’s hard to miss. As far as the diamond pattern goes, good eye! Though I don’t know.

Thanks, everyone, for playing these quizzes. The mystery quizzes remain the Wallingford and the East Burke, which are coincidentally both window questions. We’d need to get up close and personal with the building to solve these. As many of us know, we can only determine so much from a street side (or windshield) survey.  Feel free to keep guessing and if I find more to the answers, I’ll share.