This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation stories from around the web and in the news.

The Homes and Hovels of Literary Greats

William Burroughs’ ‘Bunker’ at 222 Bowery — New York, New York

Flavor Wire: Cultural News and Critique offered us a little virtual tourism this week.  Check out their A Google Maps Tour of Famous Authors’ Homes to see where your favorite author spent his/her formative years or cooked up their tallest tales. Though not all the sites offered by the tour are historical (architecturally speaking) and not all of the buildings that sheltered our literary heroes are still standing, the tour is a fun way to spend a few minutes while you count this Friday down to the start of Labor Day weekend.

How We Threaten Our Own Legacy

Knute Berger

A guest post on Preservation Nation by Seattle heritage writer Knute Berger points out that for-profit developers (who are often cast as the greedy antagonists in preservation sagas) are not always responsible for the wrecking ball.  The government, public entities and public projects are  sometimes the trouble – motivated by the misguided notion that “their will embodies an unquestioned public good” or because they are underfunded and neglect historical places under their care.

In Defense

Elias Garcia Martinez, Ecce Homo (c. 1890)

By now we’ve all heard about the botched restoration of Elías García Martínez’s “Ecce Homo.”  While most of us have either reacted in horror or had a good laugh (or both – one must cope somehow!), Art historian, Stefla of Florence and the Historian wrote a great post In “Defense” of a Hack-job Restoration. She points out that the elderly woman responsible for the damage was motivated by love of the piece and it was not an out-and-out act of vandalism, that professional conservators make mistakes (sometimes out of sheer carelessness), and that this situation has brought a great deal of attention to the plight of many Spanish churches – they don’t have the funds to care for their historic frescoes and other works.  Perhaps the loss of this one fresco will result in additional funds to maintain others – a blessing in (a tragically furry) disguise.

Cookie Monster Cookie Recipe


I realize that not all food can be linked to heritage and preservation, but it’s COOKIE MONSTER’S RECIPE!  It does date from the 1970s  so I think we can at least call it vintage.  And, of course, there is a case to be made for Sesame Street as a mainstay of American culture… Regardless, I think you should on over to theKitchn and whip a batch of these over the weekend.  Go ahead!  You can ponder culture and heritage while you do it 😉

(PS Cookie Girl, this is for you!)

Tesla, The Oatmeal, and Preservation

The Oatmeal Cartoon Saving Tesla’s Lab

My favorite story this week comes from NPR.  The only remaining laboratory of Nikola Tesla, one of the greatest American inventors, was vacant and neglected but may soon be purchased so that it can be turned into a museum, thanks to an Internet campaign that raised nearly a million dollars in about a week.   After Jane Alcorn, president of a nonprofit group called The Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe, put out an SOS for funds to purchase the dilapidated warehouse on Facebook asking her contacts to “send out the word to celebrities or people with deep pockets or anyone they thought might be able to give us assistance,” Michael Inman, a famous online cartoonist  also known as The Oatmeal got involved.  (Inman had previously published “Why Nikola Tesla was The Greatest Geek Who Ever Lived.)  As of this writing, they campaign has raised $1,178,162, surpassing their goal of $850,000.   Who knew social media and the internet could be the key to preservation success?!

Have a wonderful weekend!


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