Cast Your Ballot

Continue the tradition of saving local landmarks

An 1898 water tower was restored in the Bohemian National Cemetery on Chicago's north side.

Credit: Bohemian National Cemetery Association

May is Preservation Month—the ideal time for you to stand up and be counted. And Partners in Preservation (PiP), a collaborative funding and educational program between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and American Express, makes it easy.

This year, PiP is focusing on greater Boston. At you can vote for one of 25 local landmarks you would like to see preserved using PiP funds. Sites under consideration range from a local aquarium to several arts centers to Louisa May Alcott's Orchard House to a school for the blind. All are vying for a portion of $1 million in PiP grant assistance. The National Trust and American Express selected sites based on architectural, cultural, and historical significance—and their importance to the surrounding community.

The winner of the popular vote will be decided at midnight on May 17 and the announcement posted online. An advisory committee will then review the remaining 24 sites, several of which will also receive grants.

"PiP is designed to encourage people who care about their community to become actively engaged in preservation," says David J. Brown, the National Trust's executive vice president. "By going online and voting, people learn about the significant places in cities like Boston and what's being done to preserve them for future generations."

PiP, launched in the San Francisco Bay Area in 2006, has already funded 33 projects nationwide. Last year, the program focused on sites in New Orleans. The year before, PiP went to the Chicago area, and helped draw attention to the plight of an 1898 water tower, which supplies water for landscaping in the city's historic Bohemian National Cemetery. The tower's roof shingles were unhinged, painted surfaces had faded, and its railings were barely attached.

When voters cast their ballots, the tower came in eighth in the popular vote and received $26,000 from PiP for painting and repairs, efforts that were completed last fall. Charles Hagopian Jr., chief of Chicago affairs for the state treasurer, says, "We wanted to restore it to its former grandeur," and thanks to PiP, "we did just that."           

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