Adverse Effects Assessments In Historic Preservation: Get Off The Road, Onto The Rails

When it comes to evaluating impacts to historic properties, why are historic preservationists so hung up on views from roads? What about views from railroads and other heavily traveled transportation corridors?

I’ve often wondered why architectural historians and others evaluating impacts to historic buildings, structures, and landscapes by construction projects limit themselves to looking at how a proposed project will look from the road.

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Civil War Lost and Found: Lincoln’s First Inaugural Ballroom

Dance card. Library of Congress image.

Abraham Lincoln began his first term as the 16th president of the United States in a ceremony held on the Capitol’s east portico. About 25,000 people watched as Lincoln was sworn in Monday March 4, 1861. Lincoln left the Capitol and went to the White House, traveling in a carriage down Pennsylvania Avenue under tight security. Later that evening, the new president and his wife left the executive mansion for the traditional inaugural ball.

Many of the sites associated with Lincoln’s inauguration were permanent buildings: The Capitol; Willard’s Hotel (where the Lincolns stayed before the ceremonies); Pennsylvania Avenue; and, the White House. One piece of pop-up architecture that did not survive beyond the spring of 1861 was the ballroom where the Lincolns and their guests danced into the night of March 4, 1861. Continue reading

Montgomery County Planning Board Ends Preservationists’ Bid to Designate Silver Spring Church

Yesterday the Montgomery County Planning Board held a session to evaluate whether it should forward a draft amendment to the Master Plan for Historic Preservation that would have designated the First Baptist Church of Silver Spring as historic.

By unanimous consensus, the Planning Board elected to not have a draft amendment prepared, effectively killing the proposal to designate the church. The Planning Board deferred to the 6-2 vote by the Montgomery County Historic Preservation Commission that the property met none of the nine legal criteria for designation.

I wrote briefly about the local preservationists who pursued the designation in an earlier post and I plan a follow-up post on the many issues raised by this case. In the meantime, the testimony I submitted to the Planning Board is reprinted below. The local newspaper, the Montgomery Gazette, reported on the Planning Board’s decision in a post published at its Web site overnight. Continue reading

Historic Parkwood: An Introduction

Earlier this year we moved into the Parkwood subdivision. Located partly in unincorporated DeKalb County, Georgia, and partly in the City of Decatur, Parkwood is one of the last subdivisions developed in Druid Hills, the Garden City vision initially designed by Frederick Law Olmsted for Atlanta. Shortly after we arrived I asked myself, “How could I possibly live in an Olmsted suburb and not go rooting around in its history?”

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