Send your letters to Preservation@nthp.org, 1785 Massachusetts Ave., NW, Washington, D.C., 20036, or submit a comment below. Please include your full name, address, and daytime telephone number. All letters may be edited for length and clarity.
Guarding The Glories of San Juan
Eric Wills' article about Puerto Rico (January/February) only explored a few of our rich preservation efforts. Besides Ponce, Old San Juan, and Miramar, there are seven other historic districts and close to 300 individually listed historic sites in our state register, many of them submitted by local authorities or civic and cultural organizations. Puerto Rican architecture is phenomenally diverse for an island this size, with French, English, Creole, and American influences. Exploring beyond San Juan's "neoclassic-colonial" walled city will allow one to really appreciate the challenges that Puerto Rican preservationists face—including implementing preservation techniques for wood, brick, and stone in the tropics, stabilizing residences in town centers, promoting local commercial and cultural activities, encouraging rural preservation, and navigating complex state and local regulations.
Jorge Ortiz Colom
Toa Alta, P.R.
In Search of Lincoln's Washington
I was especially pleased to see the historic photograph of the Patent Office Building in your January/February issue. Although my wife has worked at the National Portrait Gallery as Curator of Prints and Drawings for 33 years, I had never seen a picture of the building with its original steps. I understand one of the commissions that reviewed restoration plans for the building wanted the steps to be rebuilt. The National Portrait Gallery and Smithsonian American Art Museum (which occupy the building) found that the street-level difference between the 19th century and today was four feet, so rebuilding the steps was not feasible. Your picture showed how the steps turned gracefully at the bottom of the descent. I can see why one would want them rebuilt! Many thanks for digging this photograph up.
John Daniel Reaves
Chevy Chase, Md.
The article about Lincoln's Washington, featuring President Lincoln's Cottage, piqued my interest. I visited D.C. and the cottage in October. What a treat! The National Trust has done a fine job in restoring this building. Our guide was outstanding, and the information gained increased my knowledge about President Lincoln's hectic life in D.C. Bravo.
Nancy K. Webster
Your January/February issue gave me the "gentle surprise" of revisiting two trips that I took nearly 20 years apart. Right before I received the magazine, I went to Washington, D.C., for a weekend escape. My intent was not necessarily to follow in Lincoln's footsteps, but coincidentally, I did just that. The pictures from Lincoln's time served as a great historic mirror to the pictures I had just taken of the Renwick Gallery, Blair-Lee House, and Ford's Theatre. It was also a true treasure to be updated about San Juan, a city I visited many years ago. The article served as a reminder of the wonderful people who shared their hospitality wherever we traveled on the island, from Arecibo to Ponce, Mayaguez to Caguas. I look forward to the continued surprises in 2009.
Ridley Park, Pa.
I am glad to see that Preservation is becoming a bit less staid. Though I have always enjoyed the articles, the focus has been a little too much on "the mansions of the rich." Since my involvement in preservation began with Craftsman bungalows, I have always been more concerned with vernacular and underappreciated buildings. Thank you for highlighting these important parts of our past.
The listing of Honor Award winners in Your Trust (November/December) failed to include William, Gayle, and Carl Cook, who restored the West Baden Springs and French Lick hotels in southern Indiana. A description of their contributions has been added to the listing online.