A letter to the new Secretary of the Interior

Tom King and several other preservation colleagues drafted a letter to Sally Jewell, the new Secretary of the Interior. The letter asks Secretary Jewell to revamp the federal historic preservation process:

We urge you to conduct a full review of the national historic preservation program with the aim of bringing it back to the intent of its founders, as that intent relates to the imperatives of the twenty-first century. We would be pleased to do whatever we can to assist in such an enterprise.

Tom asked me to sign the letter along with other practicing heritage preservation professionals and a batch of students poised to begin their careers in a regulatory system that has gone astray from its founding principles. The letter is embedded below. Continue reading

Historic Preservation Fund: Decatur report

Since 1970, the State and Tribal Historic Preservation Offices have received up to $46.9 million in annual matching grants through the Historic Preservation Fund (HPF) to assist in expanding and accelerating their historic preservation activities.

Funding is used to pay part of the costs of staff salaries, surveys, comprehensive preservation studies, National Register nominations, educational materials, as well as architectural plans, historic structure reports, and engineering studies necessary to preserve historic properties.

The All HPF-assisted activities must meet standards set by the Secretary of the Interior, and at least 10 percent of the allocations to the States are subgranted to assist Certified Local Governments for locally based activities. — National Park Service

The Beacon elementary school (1955) and Trinity High School (1956) were built to replace the Herring Street School. Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Wilson.In 2010 Decatur, Ga., received a $10,000 Historic Preservation Fund grant for historic preservation-related planning studies at the city’s former equalization schools, Beacon Elementary and Trinity High. The previous year, the City’s historic preservation consultants completed a citywide comprehensive historic resources survey and failed to mention the African American historic site (the survey did, however, include an inventory form for a building at 109 Waters Street with this note: “Number on building is 420 W Trinity, the police station”).

Continue reading

Roadside architecture: Blue Mountain, Maryland

There’s more to rural Frederick County, Maryland, than Camp David. Nearby, there were other twentieth century resorts that housed people of lesser means than U.S. presidents.

Blue Mountain HouseThe Blue Mountain House (F-6-095) is a 1½-story frame house located south of Blue Mountain Road in rural Frederick County, Maryland. The house is a side-gabled rectangular building constructed on a concrete block foundation. There is a front entry porch in the north façade. The porch roof is supported by four battered wood posts on brick piers. The north façade has three bays with symmetrical fenestration (central door). There is a rear one-story shed roof addition (enclosed porch) and an external gable end (west) concrete block chimney. The building has 1/1 double-hung sash windows and is clad by vinyl siding; the roof is clad by composition shingles. Continue reading

A really thin line

What would a long tourist weekend in Manhattan be without a few museums and walking tours? It’s hard to not mix work and play and after the first day spent in the New York Public Library’s manuscripts room, day two began with a trip to the Yeshiva University Museum to see the “It’s a Thin Lineeruv exhibit.


Continue reading

Silver Spring’s Read house

In February 2013 I got an email from Jacquie Bokow, editor of the Northwood News. “Hey, Dave! Do you know anything about the property at 503 Dennis Avenue?,” Jacquie wrote. The property is in our old Maryland neighborhood and late last year signs were posted that the property was under subdivision review and that the early 20th century home there may be demolished.

William Read house, December 2012.

William Read house, December 2012.

The research I did on the 1939 World’s Fair Home and the neighborhood’s 1950’s cooperative subdivision included documentation on the pre-suburban properties prior to subdivision in the early 20th century. I wrote a brief article and sent it to Jacquie. It was published in the Northwood News in April 2013 and it is reprinted below along with additional illustrations not included in the printed version.

Continue reading