Trust Me

Arnold Berke

Credit: Art by Richard Thompson

The ruins of the Rock Cafe were a sad sight for day-trippers at the National Preservation Conference in October. The beloved Route 66 landmark in Stroud, Okla., was gutted by a May fire. All that was left standing, besides the nifty neon sign, was the stout facade that gave the 1939 eatery its name. (It was built of stone left over from the road's construction.) Determined to rebuild, owner Dawn Welch has put up new interior framing. An engineering assessment and preservation plan, funded by the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service, will guide further work. Sadly, Welch had already restored "the Rock" (as locals call it) in 2001, using Park Service funds. Yet, she says, "I am excited to begin this."

... After years of groundwork, restoration of the Abyssinian Meeting House began in earnest this summer. The 1828 structure in Portland, Maine, was the center of the city's African American community—as church, meeting space, Underground Railroad haven, and public school—but was cut up into apartments in the 1920s and almost forgotten. The Leonard Cummings Sr. family founded an organization in 1997 to restore the landmark and promote its story as part of local and American history. The National Trust aided the $3 million project early on with funds to stabilize the meeting house, set to open to visitors in 2011.

... Success is sweet on the Brooklyn waterfront. The old Domino Sugar sign, atop a building to be razed, will be moved to a nearby 1884 refinery that developer CPC Resources will convert to housing. The city's preservation commission designated the refinery a landmark last year, so community groups worked with the commission and the developer to also save the sign. Because of the threat of overdevelopment, the National Trust placed Brooklyn's waterfront on its 11 Most Endangered list for 2007.    

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