Trust Me

Inside the National Trust

Arnold Berke DrawingThe nation's oldest continuously occupied community, Acoma Sky City, is now a Trust historic site. At a September ceremony at Trust headquarters, Governor Jason Johnson, of the Pueblo of Acoma Indian tribe, and Trust President Richard Moe signed an agreement to make it official. Inhabited for more than 1,000 years, Sky City tops a tall sandstone mesa in New Mexico some 7,000 feet above sea level. It remains in tribal ownership and will continue to be open to the public.

...Vote for your favorite historic place! Thanks to American Express and the Trust, that's what Bay Area folks did in September and October, picking from a list of 25 sites in San Francisco and surrounding counties?a diverse lot, from a courthouse and a lighthouse to a natatorium and a windmill. The winners, announced in November, will share $1 million in restoration grants from American Express. The donation launches its Partners in Preservation program, which is giving $5 million over five years to Trust-related initiatives like this, and an equal sum to the World Monuments Fund. Both organizations have enjoyed a fruitful relationship with AmEx.

... "I trace my ancestry back to the Mayflower," writes Andrew S. Dolkart. Not to the famous ship, but to the 1907 apartment house on New York City's Lower East Side where his father was born to immigrant parents. In his new book, Biography of a Tenement House in New York City, Dolkart traces the architectural and social history of a nearby building, 97 Orchard St., home to a similar population. Now the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a Trust historic site, it housed some 7,000 people from 1863, when it was built, to its closing in 1935. Dolkart, a professor of preservation at Columbia University, tells how the five-story structure shaped the lives of these new Americans?and how both changed along with neighborhood and city. Especially illuminating are Dolkart's stories of tenant families and the city's housing reform movement.

...Amid the rebuilding of post-Katrina New Orleans, "normal" preservation carries on. Developers proposing a hotel for the French Quarter withdrew their contested scheme in August after it became clear the city council would not support them. Opponents?many civic, business, and tourism groups plus the Trust?fought to uphold a hotel ban in the quarter, enacted in 1969 and never breached. Their arsenal included testimony at hearings, radio and TV spots, streaming Internet video, even a billboard. The Canal Street sign first urged an earlier city council to nix the plan, but the board voted in favor. So the sign was changed to pressure the next council and, after the representatives sided against the hotel, was altered again to a huge "THANK YOU For Protecting the French Quarter!" Says Nathan Chapman, head of Vieux Carr? Property Owners, Residents and Associates: "This shows the whole city supports the quarter."

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