By Arnold Berke | From Preservation | July/August 2009
It's official! The National Trust for Historic Preservation has launched its Modernism + Recent Past Initiative, to widen awareness of 20th-century architecture. Headed by Christine Madrid French, the initiative will aid local preservation groups, work with Trust partners to set common policies, and create a communications strategy to boost popular appreciation. A modernism center at Philip Johnson's Glass House, a Trust historic site, will be a vital part of the program, which will also dovetail its work with our Sustainability Initiative. "We'll be showing new ways to look at not-so-old buildings," says French, who co-founded the Recent Past Preservation Network in 2000, "and taking the lead in a growing international movement."
… When an 18th-century house undergoes major rehab, the common response is to shut down until the dust clears. But not the Trust's Cliveden historic site in Philadelphia, where installation of a climate-control system required removal of the collections and other attractions that visitors come to see. Instead of closing shop, Cliveden staged events in February and March called "The Ghost of Chew's Wall"—a lecture on the site's haunted history followed by a candlelit ghost tour. The usual construction litter—wood debris, tarps, tools—only thickened the eerie atmosphere. Each event was held, naturally, on Friday the 13th.
… Good cheer: Thanks to congressional action, a presidential signature, and efforts by the Trust and our partners, the National Landscape Conservation System is now a permanent part of the Bureau of Land Management, protecting 26 million natural and historic acres in 14 states... The Rock Cafe has reopened, a year after a fire gutted the beloved Route 66 landmark in Stroud, Okla. ... The Robert H. Smith Visitor Education Center at President Lincoln's Cottage in Washington, D.C., became the first National Trust site to receive LEED certification—in its case, gold.
… Since it opened in 1926, the Seville Theater in Bryn Mawr, Pa., has endured a lot of abuse—including a series of ungainly marquees and a ruined atrium. After the movie house (later dubbed the Bryn Mawr) closed in 2001, it nearly became a gym. To the rescue came the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, which bought and reopened the place and set out to restore it. Phase one ended in 2006 with installation of a marquee echoing the original. Phase two has brought back the dramatic skylit atrium, funded in part through the Trust by the Lowe's Charitable and Educational Foundation. Future work will tackle the auditorium, divided in two in 1978. "The transformation has been a big inspiration to "says Patricia Wesley, development director of the institute, which uses cinema to spur cultural and economic growth.
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