Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Preservation Weekly

Fox Theatre: Atlanta’s Preservation Gem

The “Fabulous” Fox Theatre is a preservation success story that acts a beacon of hope for other preservation endeavors in the city of Atlanta. Originally built for the Shriners of Atlanta, it was turned into a theatre by William Fox and offered a respite for Atlantans during the Great Depression and continued as a successful theater on into the 1960s. However, in the 1970s, it was threatened by demolition. In response, Atlanta Landmarks Inc. was created and the theatre was nominated it to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. A “Save the Fox” grass roots campaign formed championed by local high school students demonstrating the local and cultural importance of the theatre. It was not just the interestingly unique architecture that sparked this impassioned crusade but the memories and experiences the people of Atlanta shared through this cultural landmark. The Fox has faced bankruptcy and suburban sprawl as well as TV and managed to survive and flourish. The theatre leaves an indelible mark to anyone who sees it.

Today, the Fox theatre is still operational as a theatre and also as a museum. It still houses its original furniture and light fixtures and is home to the second largest theater organ in the world, a Moller organ affectionately known as "Mighty Mo." This week The Fox is hosting a Seminar, “‘It Ain’t Easy Being Green’, Creating a Sustainable Future for Your Historic Structure.” The event will be hosted at The Fox Theatre in the Grand Salon on Tuesday, June 29, 2010 from 10 am to 4 pm. I will be attending. I am shamed to say in the thirteen years that I have lived in Georgia I have never been inside the Fox. Very uncharacteristic of my background, but after learning so much about the theatre’s history, walking through the doors will be twice as exciting because I know what this place means to so many. One thing is sure Atlanta loves the Fox.
The Georgia Trust 2010 Fall Ramble will be in Atlanta September 11-12. The Fox Theatre will be a Ramble site. For more information check out our website.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Preservation Weekly

Preservation vs. Progress

- Merribel McKeever

The recent approval of the wind farm in Nantucket Sound has this preservationist divided on the issue. The proposal has been in the works for about nine years and has faced serious objections by preservationists and homeowners alike. To environmentalists a wind farm sounds long overdue especially with the devastating oil spill gushing 50,000 barrels of oil a day into the Gulf of Mexico. Yet sometimes, simple solutions are filled with complexities.

The National Trust has already written a blog about the Nantucket Sound case lamenting the situation in which preservationists found themselves. Nine years ago the company Cape Wind proposed to build a wind farm of 130 turbines to be placed in the shallow waters off of Nantucket Sound. Two prominent issues became a concern with preservationists. The first, an obstructed view from the historic districts surrounding the proposed area. Preservationists claimed it would destroy the historical context of the historic houses in the district. The other concern was two Native Americans tribes who live in the area. They perform sun rituals on the beaches of Nantucket Sound and the wind farm would be detrimental to their practices. Additionally, the shallow waters where the bases of the turbines would be built was once exposed land where the tribes resided holding all kinds of archaeological treasures. Any preservationist would pause and reflect in light of these issues.

Yet here we have a proposal for the first ever offshore wind farm in the United States- an important first step in realizing alternative energy sources. Environmentalists have been on board with alternative energy for years but the recent oil spill has brought it to the forefront for all Americans. The utter devastation to the areas in the gulf makes the idea of wind farms a no-brainer.

I find myself divided on the Nantucket Sound decision. I wish Cape Wind had looked harder at moving the farm to another area but again I understand that the high winds in the area are perfect for capturing the most wind. Consequently, other states now have proposed farms in the works and had the proposal been denied a precedent to reject other wind farms in others areas based on the same conditions of a ruined view-scape would stand.

While it’s important to protect what remains of our history to the best of our ability it is also important to remember that progress is inevitable and that we can only mitigate the effects. Cape Wind has agreed to a smaller number of turbines and to paint them a light color. They also claim that from the surrounding beaches the turbines will only appear a couple of inches above the horizon. We have learned to live with the skyline of a city in the background of an historic district and even come to view it as part of its history. Can’t a wind farm find its place as well?

Merribel McKeever is a graduate student at Georgia State University in the Heritage Preservation program. She joined The Georgia Trust this summer as a Graduate Research Assistant working closely with the Endangered Properties Program and contributing widely to the Preservation Department. Look for regular blog posts from Merribel about interesting preservation issues.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Member Spotlight

This week we are proud to shine a deserving spotlight on our lovely Rhodes Hall docent, Tiffany Burckhalter-Alewine.

With a bright smile and friendly greeting, Tiffany is always a pleasure to encounter at Rhodes Hall. For the past 1 ½ years, Tiffany has cheerfully greeted visitors, conducted tours, and helped out in any way she possibly can. In fact, the bubbly voice on the voice mail at the rentals desk (404.885.7800) belongs to Tiffany.

A Legal Studies major at Valdosta State, Tiffany now works as a sales agent for Dell Webb. She lives at Lake Lanier with her husband and two dogs. Tiffany loves history and has a passion for preservation, as evidenced by her enthusiasm and reliability. According to Tiffany, “homes have a story to tell, and I feel it’s important to pass the story along.” Luckily for the Georgia Trust, she’s chosen Rhodes Hall as her story.

The Georgia Trust is grateful to Tiffany for her ongoing support and commitment to historic preservation.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Georgia Theatre Update

This weekend marks the first anniversary of the Georgia Theatre's devastating fire. Over the past year, theater owner Wil Green has worked diligently to rebuild this important historic building in downtown Athens. Through a partnership with The Georgia Trust, the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund was established to accept donations to be used solely for the rehabilitation of this historic theater. To date, over 150 individuals and organizations have contributed to this fund. Additional support has come from benefit concerts, auctions and even beer. Thank you to all who have contributed and continue to support this theater's rehabilitation!

Read more about the Georgia Theatre's fire and plans for the future in the latest edition of Flagpole.

Another article from the Athens Banner-Herald about the Georgia Theatre, including more pictures, is available here

Visit our website for information on donating to the Georgia Theatre Rehabilitation Fund.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Member Spotlight

For this week's Member Spotlight we are excited to highlight Chris Howard of Macon who is an Advisor and former Board Member for Hay House and who remains active on the Restoration, Garden, and Christmas Committees.

A preservation consultant and a graduate of the University of Georgia, Howard was Director of Properties for five years at Historic Macon Foundation before pursuing his Masters in Preservation Studies at the Tulane School of Architecture. Howard has served as Treasurer of the Historic Rose Hill Cemetery Foundation and serves on the College Hill Corridor Commission. An ardent preservationist, he recently completed the restoration of a 1878 Victorian house in Intown Macon adjacent to his home in the historic Waterworks building. The Georgia Trust appreciate's Howard's preservation efforts in Macon and specifically his interest in Hay House!

FYI: Restoration of the Hay House dining room is now underway! Click here for a virtual tour of the before. Stay tuned for updates and be sure to come see it for yourself when its done.

Monday, June 7, 2010

Talking Walls

Today marked the beginning of two Talking Walls workshops. Talking Walls is a heritage education program sponsored by The Georgia Trust. With the help of our local partners who design and facilitate these week long workshops, Talking Walls introduces educators to local historic resources and trains them in ways to incorporate these resources in their lesson plans. Since 1991, Talking Walls workshops have been held in over 60 counties throughout Georgia and have been attended by more than 2,000 educators. If each teacher reaches just 25 students a year, 50,000 Georgian students a year are not only learning about their local history, but they are also learning from their local history.

Participants in DeKalb County's 2010 Talking Walls (pictured above) have a full week of activities ahead of them. Their workshop, organized by The DeKalb History Center, includes a presentation about DeKalb's architecture, a cemetery tour that will provide information about funerary architecture and symbolism, and tours of local historic sites and archives. The group will also hear presentations about incorporating historic resources- such as oral histories, photographs, maps and primary source documents- in lesson plans.

Talking Walls workshops offer participants 3 Professional Learning Unit credits. But don't think you have to be a history teacher to benefit from these workshops. Whether its using an architectural detail to teach geometry or historic maps to teach ecology, Talking Walls explores ways to incorporate historic resources in every subject.

Check out our website for more information.

Also, The National Trust for Historic Preservation offers great resources for Teaching Preservation. Don't miss their Teaching Preservation Blog which this year followed students in Boise.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Preservation Month

Jim Cothran's presentation on historic landscapes 5/27/10

Each Thursday, and one Tuesday, during the month of May The Georgia Trust and the Historic Preservation Division hosted a lecture in recognition of National Historic Preservation Month. Thank you to presenters Richard Cloues, Mark McDonald, Jordan Poole and Jim Cothran for your interesting and informative preservation lectures. Special thanks go out to all of you who came to Rhodes Hall or Hay House to help recognize May as Preservation Month and sharing your interests in historic preservation with us. You helped make our second annual Preservation Month Lecture Series a success and we're already planning for next year!

But remember- Preservation doesn't stop on May 31. Tomorrow, The Georgia Trust staff, members and volunteers are heading to Paradise Gardens for a workday at this 2010 Place in Peril. Interested in joining us or learning more about future workdays? Contact Jordan Poole.

Visit our website for instructions on nominating a site for listing on the 2011 Places in Peril list.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Member Spotlight

If you have toured Rhodes Hall on a Tuesday, chances are your guide was John Turman. For the past six years, John has volunteered as a tour docent at Rhodes Hall every Tuesday. One of the highlights of a tour by John is learning about the history of the Rhodes Hall windows (above) and the historical scenes they depict. In addition to giving tours, John often lends a helping hand to The Georgia Trust’s Development Department. Whether it’s teaching tourists about the historic gem that is Rhodes Hall, or stuffing envelopes and Uptown Rhodes Race packets- John’s contributions to The Georgia Trust are always greatly appreciated. For his dedication and volunteer service, we honor John this week as our Member Spotlight!

Though John grew up an ‘army brat’, his family has long roots in Atlanta, going at least as far back as the Civil War. John has returned to make Atlanta his home, a city where his ancestor’s homestead was once burned by Sherman and where his father attended a ball for the premier of Gone with the Wind (John still has the program from this event!). With a PhD in German Literature, John’s love of history and reading has led him to his current endeavor- writing an adventure historical fiction novel based on his Georgia ancestors.

When asked what his favorite part of working at Rhodes Hall is, John replied “making the history of the house and the city live for visitors, especially those from out of town”. John’s spirit of heritage, preservation, education and outreach melds well with the mission of The Georgia Trust and helps make Rhodes Hall a wonderful building to work in, hold events and tour.

If you would like to volunteer at Rhodes Hall, contact Caley Ross.

And don't forget, Rhodes Hall will be part of this year's Fall Ramble in Atlanta!