By Arnold Berke | From Preservation | Novermber/December 2005
It's official! The core campus of the Eisenhower Veterans Affairs Medical Center will not be scrapped. In August, the Pioneer Group inked a lease with the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs to rehab 38 buildings at the Leavenworth, Kan., facility for housing, classrooms, and other uses. Built between the 1880s and the 1930s, the structures—an eclectic bunch in the Georgian and Romanesque revival and other styles—were threatened with razing by the V.A. in 1999 to enlarge a cemetery. This prompted an outcry from local, state, and national organizations, including the Trust, which placed the buildings on its 2000 list of 11 most-endangered places. "The listing was a critical turning point for saving these landmarks," says activist Sally Hatcher, a past president of the Kansas Preservation Alliance. The groups' push and a review by the federal Advisory Council on Historic Preservation brought the V.A. around, in an agreement that spares the structures while allowing the cemetery expansion.
... Things are less rosy at another federal installation, the Pensacola Naval Air Station in Florida. The U.S. Navy wants to demolish up to 16 historic buildings there because of damage from Hurricane Ivan in September 2004. The Trust and others oppose the plan, citing the station's long history, first as a 19th-century shipyard, then as the country's first permanent naval air station (established in 1914) and pilot training center. The structures are located in a National Historic Landmark district, which Trust President Richard Moe calls "the Independence Hall of our nation's naval history."
...Trust members can now take in even more historic sites, thanks to the new Partner Places, which offers free or reduced admission to those with a Trust membership card. The growing list of locations, more than 50 by year's end, includes the Bonnet House in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and the Bellamy Mansion in Wilmington, N.C.—two of my favorites—plus many other residences, gardens, and theaters, and even Battleship Cove, a fleet of historic naval ships in Fall River, Mass. Check the Member Center at www.nationaltrust.org for the latest roster.
...Add one more Trust staffer to the roll of authors. James Lindberg, from the mountains/plains office, has cowritten Rocky Mountain Rustic, a tribute to the woodsy architecture found in and near Colorado's Rocky Mountain National Park. Coauthored by Patricia Raney and Janet Robertson and published by the Rocky Mountain Nature Association, the book is filled with current and period photos of cabins, retreats, ranch houses, and lodges dating to the 1870s. These comely quarters, primitive to grand, tell the stories of those who came to live, work, and travel amid glorious landscapes. They also offer some of the cleverest combinations of stone and timber I've ever seen.
...Two of the Trust's own new publications should interest those in the thick of preservation. Own a historic structure? Then you should master—well, at least be pretty much on top of—local codes. Ready to edify you is Building Codes and Historic Buildings by Melvyn Green and Anne Watson, a guide to what codes are, when you should follow them strictly, and when you and code officials can work out preservation-friendly applications. Appointed to a preservation board? Review What Every Board Member Needs to Know: An Introduction to Historic Preservation, a PowerPoint presentation. Both Preservation Books catalog items are available at www.preservationbooks.org or by calling (202) 588-6296.
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