Trust Me: Inside the National Trust

By Arnold Berke

Trust Me: Inside the National Trust

Credit: Art by Richard Thompson

A timeworn but precious landmark in African American history is finally secure. The red-brick 1890s rowhouse in Washington, D.C., where Carter G. Woodson lived from 1915 to 1950 has been acquired by the National Park Service, which will restore it for public visitation. Often called the father of black history, Woodson was a Harvard-trained historian and public school teacher who established Negro History Week, now African American History Month, as part of his mission to recognize the black contribution to American culture. In recent years, the house sat vacant and decaying, leading the Trust in 2001 to place it on its 11 Most Endangered list. Legislation to buy the house and three adjoining properties and name them the Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site was championed by D.C.'s voice in Congress, Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D). The Association for the Study of African American Life and History, which Woodson cofounded, will occupy part of the site in the rapidly reviving Shaw neighborhood.

... Another pioneer in black history died in January. Joan Maynard, 77, was synonymous with Weeksville, a Brooklyn village founded by free blacks in the 1830s that she helped rescue from near-total obscurity and spent more than three decades publicizing and restoring. Maynard's legendary devotion to Weeksville—she was a founding member and then director of the Society for the Preservation of Weeksville and Bedford-Stuyvesant History—was crowned in June 2005 when three wood-framed houses there were reopened to the public after a thorough restoration, funded in part by a Save America's Treasures grant. Widely honored for her work in cultural and historic preservation, Maynard served as a trustee of the Trust from 1973 to 1982 and was awarded its Crowninshield Award in 1992. 

... A new tourism venture, Explore Colorado, has been launched by the Trust and KUSA-TV (Channel 9) in Denver to beef up interest in—and visits to—historic places. Working with local residents and others in the know, the mountains/plains office pinpointed 20 such sites, to be featured on weekly segments on the channel's program Colorado & Company. A series of 15- and 30-second vignettes highlighting the sites will also be aired during newscasts and entertainment programs. And the 9NEWS.COM Web site will offer information on such topics as scenic byways and regional histories. The first segments will air May 22.

... Help for hurricane victims has poured in from far and wide. In one of the newsier gifts, Donald Trump has added $25,000 to the Hurricane Katrina recovery campaign. The developer and television celebrity donated the funds to the restoration of Beauvoir, the former home of Confederate President Jefferson Davis, whose 1851 main house and grounds were severely damaged by the storm. President Richard Moe recommended Beauvoir after Trump asked how he could aid the relief efforts.

... The bells are ringing for California's Mission San Miguel Arcángel. Congress has approved $300,000 through the Save America's Treasures program to help restore the 1816 complex, gravely struck by the 2003 San Simeon earthquake and still closed to the public. In further felicitous news, the mission, one in the chain of 21 such coastal outposts established by the Spanish, was named a National Historic Landmark in January.

For the remainder of this article, e-mail us to purchase a back issue. Or read more excerpts from this issue."