Trust Me

Arnold Berke

Credit: Art by Richard Thompson

You don't usually link New Orleans with modern architecture, but among the city's 18th- and 19th-century riches stand a goodly number of 20th-century gems. Sadly, some are threatened, and the National Trust, working with local preservationists, is in the fray. Its most impressive target, for sheer size, is Charity Hospital (1939), closed since Hurricane Katrina and slated for demolition. The Trust has also pushed to save what remains of four public housing complexes—emptied by the storm, too—that HUD has mostly razed (Preservation, March/April 2007). And two former Louisiana state buildings from the late 1950s, the Supreme Courthouse and an office block, could be leveled for a new state complex; the Trust is aiding a federal ­review of that proposal. ­Although local sentiment for modernism is growing, "we've been terrible stewards of modernist work here," says Walter Gallas, director of the Trust's New Orleans field office. Many still mourn the loss of the striking St. Francis Cabrini Church (1964), torn down last year despite great protest.

… Handbags and honey, rice and reproduction dresses, and four types of barbecue sauce. These and other local wares—even a cookbook from Johnny Cash's mom, Carrie—star in the branding program Arkansas DeltaMade. Started last fall by the ­National Trust's Rural Heritage Development Initiative and a local task force, the program offers Mississippi River Delta artisans the ­opportunity to expand ­markets, and offers shoppers—residents and tourists—the chance to buy something homegrown. DeltaMade also helps ­merchants, since you must go to their stores to buy the goodies (though you can check them out at So far, 16 retailers in the 15-county Delta region have signed up to sell some 40 products. I haven't had the pleasure of trying them yet, but here's my favorite name: Pasquale's Tamales. They "taste so good," touts the ad for the hand-rolled delicacies, that "you'll suck the shuck."

… Fanning out into the field is the best way for any movement to gain success. So it is with the National Trust, which has long helped state and local nonprofits spread the good word via good works. Now the more than 100 members of the Trust's Statewide and Local Partners program can grow their outreach, thanks to the Robert W. Wilson Charitable Trust, which is funding $5 million worth of Partners in the Field matching grants. In the first round, the initiative has awarded $3 million (from $60,000 to $150,000 per grant) to 24 groups—including $147,000 to the Galveston Historical Foundation to help prepare for natural disasters and bolster older buildings' energy efficiency; $140,000 to the Los Angeles Conservancy to fortify preservation leadership in the ­Latino community; and $120,000 to Preservation Maryland to expand field services to the Eastern Shore. The remaining $2 million will be awarded next year.

… History gets first-class treatment at the Schuylkill County, Pa., farm of "Boots" Hetherington and his wife, Robin—especially the barn. Built from oak and hemlock atop a fieldstone base, the 1875 structure is used for grading and packing vegetables and storing farm equipment plus thousands of bales of straw. With the barn in ­decline a few years ago, the Hetheringtons decided to ­restore it, a three-year, $25,000 job that brought the barn back and earned them the 2008 Barn Again! Farm Heritage Award. Each year, the National Trust and Successful Farming magazine present this honor, plus four Recog­nition Awards, for farm ­structure stewardship. ­Visit for photos and more ­information.   

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