Trust Me

Arnold
Arnold Berke

Credit: Art by Richard Thompson

Those signs asserting "This Place Matters"—you held up hundreds of them at cherished spots last year—will pop up even more in 2009, thanks to Fireman's Fund Insurance Co. The company sponsored the signs bound into our January/February issue and is helping the ­National Trust for Historic Preservation get thousands of Americans to photograph the placard at their own special someplace, then share the ­photo at PreservationNation.org/thisplacematters. You can even contribute a short piece on why your ­venue is so swell. So join in and spread the spirit of those three little words.    

… Molding makes the room. Used for walls, windows, and doors, even the simplest molding can redeem a dull space. Now home ­improvement giant Lowe's is offering a line of wood-composite moldings inspired by six National Trust historic sites. With these crown, chair, case, and base moldings (milled by the Empire Co. in Zeeland, Mich.), you can channel the spirit of Woodlawn, Chesterwood, Shadows-on-the-Teche, Belle Grove, Woodrow Wilson House, or Villa Finale into your own house. The collection marks our second product collaboration with the company, following the Valspar line of historically authentic paint colors.

… Among the ways our organization is helping New Orleans recover is the conversion of the Pontchartrain Hotel into housing for seniors. The 1927 Garden District landmark was long known for its classy lobby, Caribbean Room restaurant, and Bayou Bar. Now the National Trust Community Investment Corp. is working with Capital One to provide $13.1 million through new-markets tax credits to project developer Burrus Investment Group. (The credits, against federal income taxes, promote development in low-income neighborhoods.) The Pontchartrain, with 84 apartments, is expected to reopen this summer with historic spaces intact—and the bar open to the public. 

… The National Trust's historic sites keep growing—not just in number (now 29) but also in size. In fact, Belle Grove, an estate in the Shenandoah Valley near Middletown, Va., has nearly tripled in area through the addition of 183 adjacent acres. The new tract is part of the original property, a grain and livestock plantation that once ­encompassed 7,500 acres. At the center stands a 1797 limestone manor house, which served as Union headquarters during the Civil War ­battle of Cedar Creek. A ceremony at the site last November marked ­completion of the land purchase, its $1 million cost raised over eight years through donations         

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