Category Archives: Historic Preservation

‘Deep Throat’ parking garage is a goner

Usually you hear about a historic site disappearing because somebody is building a parking area.  This time a historic structure is disappearing because somebody is demolishing a parking area.

One of the most historic U.S. journalism sites will vanish after a Virginia county board voted to demolish the building and parking garage central to the Watergate political scandal of the 1970s.

The Arlington County Board agreed on Saturday to raze the Rosslyn garage where FBI official Mark Felt secretly met with Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward during the Watergate scandal. The investigation led to President Richard Nixon’s resignation in 1974.

Felt was known for decades as Woodward’s source “Deep Throat.”

Kind of seems like a shame, but at least there’ll be a marker at the spot.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

Photograph your favorite Kentucky historic site and win a Bardstown getaway

The Kentucky Heritage Council is holding a pretty neat contest to celebrate National Historic Preservation Month.

In addition to the annual running of the Kentucky Derby, May is National Historic Preservation Month, and the goal is to highlight the many different kinds of historic places that Kentuckians feel at “home.”

“Historic places matter to Kentuckians. We want to invite people to share how and why they value Kentucky’s historic places, and build interest in the reuse and preservation of historic buildings,” said Craig Potts, KHC executive director and state historic preservation officer. “We want people to be able to tell their own story about how historic buildings and places make them feel.”

To enter, participants download the contest sign, found at http://www.heritage.ky.gov, or make their own; hold it in front of their favorite “Old Kentucky Home”; get a snapshot; then “like” the Heritage Council’s Facebook page at facebook/kyshpo and submit it to win – the only rule being, the site must be 50 years old or older. Participants will be asked to tell where the photo was taken, and why the place photographed is special.

Participants may submit one photo per Facebook account, but can vote once a day for their favorite photos. Posters are encouraged to share all their photos on social media using the hashtag #myoldkyhome and tweet their photos to @kyshpo.

The contest period began at noon (EDT) today and continues through midnight (EDT) Friday, May 23. The top five photos with the most “likes” will go into a random drawing to determine the winner, who will be announced during the last week of May. The grand-prize winner will receive an all-expense paid weekend in Bardstown, courtesy of the Bardstown-Nelson County Tourist & Convention Commission.

The prize package includes overnight accommodations at one of Bardstown’s historic bed and breakfast inns, a gift card for downtown dining or shopping, and admission for two adults to My Old Kentucky Home State Park/Federal Hill; The Stephen Foster Story (June 14-August 16, 2014); Civil War Museum of the Western Theater; a private tour of Wickland, the home of three governors, or a visit with the Spirits of Wickland; Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center; Barton 1792 Distillery; and Willett Distillery.

Federal Hill is a beautiful site, and if you haven’t been, this would be a good chance to win a free visit.

The historic place in Kentucky where I feel most at home is Cumberland Gap.  (Well, it’s in three different states, but Kentucky is one of them.)  I’m also partial to Lincoln’s birthplace, Fort Boonesborough, the Old Statehouse Historic District in Frankfort, the Midway Historic District, and Boone’s gravesite.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

Good news for Princeton preservationists

The Institute for Advanced Study’s plan to build additional faculty housing at the Rev War battlefield has hit a snag.  A state regulatory commission has blocked the proposal because of its proximity to a local stream.

Leave a comment

Filed under American Revolution, Historic Preservation

Use a coaster, for Pete’s sake

Check out this article about the preservation and maintenance of the desks in the U.S. Senate chamber. I didn’t know that some of those desks have been in use since 1819.

Every desk has been examined for damage, scratches, structural issues and cracks in knobs or feet. Of the 100 desks, about a third needed some maintenance, the curator said — mostly to fix scratches on the surface or broken wood.

The goal of the restoration was not to make the desks look as good as possible by refinishing them, but rather to fix the desk parts — not replace them — to keep the historical integrity intact.…

Some desks are considered such historical treasures that the Senate has passed legislation officially assigning them: the “Webster desk” always goes to the senior senator from New Hampshire, while the “Clay desk” goes to the senior senator from Kentucky. The desk used by Jefferson Davis, who would become president of the Confederate States of America, is assigned to the senior senator from Mississippi.

More info about the Senate desks here.

2 Comments

Filed under Historic Preservation

Friends don’t let ‘Friends’ demolish historic buildings

David Schwimmer had an 1852 East Village townhouse torn down to make way for his new digs, so an irate New Yorker retaliated by painting “Ross Is Not Cool” at the construction site.  I got a pretty good chuckle out of it, which is more than I can say for the average episode of Friends.

1 Comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

Tearing down a 1756 structure in Pennsylvania

It’s on the National Register of Historic Places, but that hotel and CVS have to go up somewhere.

2 Comments

Filed under Colonial America, Historic Preservation

Early South Carolina graveyard desecrated

Graves opened and stones broken at a cemetery in York County, SC.  Some of the burials date back to the eighteenth century.

I was just reading about the Rev War skirmishes in and around York County before turning in last night.  Hope they catch the lowlife who did this.

1 Comment

Filed under American Revolution, Historic Preservation

We could all use some tactical back-and-forth

Check out this article on the history of Civil War battlefield preservation at The Washington Post:

Despite admirable efforts to connect battlefields to the larger history of the Civil War, the one thing that battlefields can teach very well is the history of what happened in a particular place. If the goal is simply to inspire thoughts about the larger social history of the Civil War, one battlefield is pretty much the same as the next — and it becomes difficult to explain why we need to preserve so many of them, and with so much land taken off the tax rolls. If the goal is to make people passionate about battlefields and their preservation, visitors need to engage with the actual place to understand its strategic importance and the tactical back-and-forth.

I would argue that visitors need to get the strategic importance and tactical back-and-forth because they have intrinsic importance, not just because they inspire respect for preservation.

I seem to run across more discussions about how to effectively integrate non-military subjects into battlefield interpretation than about how to effectively interpret the battlefield itself. Don’t get me wrong—I’m glad that battlefield interpretation is more well-rounded and contextualized than it used to be. We rightly emphasize the fact that the battles didn’t happen in a vacuum, but that insight cuts both ways.

Just as the war’s larger issues determined the conflict, the “tactical back-and-forth” determined the resolution of those larger issues. Emancipation, Union, and all the rest of it ultimately hinged on the stuff of old-fashioned military history: maneuver, terrain, firepower, etc. We preserve these places not only because people suffered and died there, but also because what happened there mattered. It mattered that such-and-such a colonel held a particular position, that such-and-such a general flanked an enemy. Determining the outcome of larger questions, after all, is why battles tend to be fought.

2 Comments

Filed under Civil War, Historic Preservation, Museums and Historic Sites

Artifact swindlers allegedly dig up historic cemetery

What’s lower than swiping artifacts? Desecrating graves in order to get them.

Two Waynesboro, Ga., men were charged Monday in a Burke County grave robbery in which the remains of an infant casket and the corpses of five Confederate and Revolutionary War soldiers were dug up.

Jerry Atkinson, 39, and Ralph Hillis Jr. could face up to five years in prison if convicted of the seldom-used felony charge of malicious removal of the dead from a grave. The charges were filed by the Burke County Sheriff’s Office.

Hillis, who goes by the nickname “Bubba,” was in custody in Richmond County on Monday night, but Atkinson remained at large, said Burke County Sheriff Greg Coursey.

These guys are also facing meth-related charges.  More on this awful story here and here.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historic Preservation

If you ask me, the federal government should buy Wounded Knee

I didn’t even know that Wounded Knee was in private hands until this story popped up in the news.  The landowner has given the Oglala Sioux until May 1 to come up with the money before he puts it up for auction.  Unfortunately, the asking price is $3.9 million and the tribe is deeply in debt.  The current price seems high to me, but the guy claims he’s already had three offers.

There’s disagreement within the tribe as to what should be done with the site; some see opportunities for more tourist-related revenue, while others oppose any major development nearby.  Personally, I’d like to see the federal government step in and buy it with an eye toward eventual management by the National Park Service.  Supporters of tourism would get the visitor draw they’re after, while the NPS could preserve the site and interpret it in a tasteful, professional, and sensitive manner that would hopefully be agreeable to folks who aren’t keen on development.  Seems to me like a sensible solution, but that’s just my two cents.

Leave a comment

Filed under Historic Preservation