Trust Me

Arnold Berke

Credit: Art by Richard Thompson

They all but danced in the streets. Folks in Telluride, Colo., were thrilled in June when the state supreme court ruled that the town, trying to ­preserve 572 acres of adjacent valley floor as open space, could lawfully use eminent domain to buy the tract. The historic mining community has struggled for years to prevent the San Miguel Valley Corp. from turning the pristine area into a luxury-home development. In 2002 residents voted to acquire the property, one year after the valley earned a place on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places list. An official transfer finally took place in late June. The National Trust donated $10,000 to Telluride's fund for purchasing the land.

 ... "This Place Matters" signs were everywhere during Preservation Month in May, as people displayed them at landmarks they love. And the placards, designed by the National Trust, live on. Volunteers hoisted a banner-sized version at the Seneca County Courthouse in Tiffin, Ohio, at a June rally to save the 1884 landmark, which the county wants to raze. Heritage Ohio organized the gathering, which drew more than 150 people. Tiffin's architectural review board voted earlier to deny the county's demolition permit, raising hopes for saving the place, one of many American civic structures ­designed by architect Elijah E. Myers. I admit to a soft spot for the guy's courthouses, since the one in my hometown of Elyria, Ohio—still standing—was one of his.

 ... If you're in New York City any time soon, be sure to drop by the Museum of Modern Art on West 53rd Street. An exhibit there on prefab housing includes a reconstructed Lustron house from Arlington, Va. The show ("Home Delivery") looks at the history and future of prefabrication as a means of supplying affordable, innovative shelter. Of special interest to Preservation readers, the Arlington house was featured in our July/August 2007 issue. The owner had donated it to the county, which disassembled it for future use. Then MOMA came calling. The show runs through Oct. 20.

 ... After nearly 10 years at the helm, David Bahlman has retired as president of Landmarks Illinois. A vocal advocate for historic preservation, Bahlman worked with the National Trust in 2003 to buy the endangered Mies van der Rohe masterpiece, Farnsworth House. His other wins include saving the former Cook County Hospital, launching a recent-past initiative, and setting up the Preservation Heritage Fund, which gives grants to rescue buildings. In the July issue of Landmarks Illinois' Cornerstones newsletter, Landmarks chair Rolf Achilles praised Bahlman for "his decade of eloquence, charm, perception, wit, and attention to detail." The Illinois post capped a long career; previously he was executive director of the Society of Architectural Historians (1984-93) and of the Foundation for San Francisco's Architectural Heritage (1993-98).

 ... Congrats to Main Streeters everywhere! The U.S. Economic Development Administration has honored the Silver City (N.M.) MainStreet Project as the first recipient of its new award for Excellence in Historic Preservation-Led Strategies to Enhance Economic Development. That title (what a mouthful) says it all—namely, that preservation can be a fine engine for boosting the local economy, something that downtown Silver City has been proving for more than 20 years. Locals, federal officials, and staff of the National Trust for Historic Preservation attended an August awards ceremony in the town, a treasure trove of mining-era architecture high up in the Pinos Altos Mountains. 

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