Tagged: California

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Theories of Significance – Tom King

A great discussion about the different theories of significance preservationists use to justify listings in the National Register of Historic Places and how those theories break down into 6 different worldviews: the commemoration and illustration theory,the uniqueness-representativeness school, the scholarly value school, the ambience retention school,  the kitsch school, and the community value school.

Under the Dome: Rafael Guastavino – WHQR


Guastavino tile at Tocci in Massachusetts. Image via Tocci

Architectural domes were the masterpieces of Rafael Guastavino whose amazing structures were built on the principle he created and patented: The Guastavino Tile Arch System. He famously designed the Oyster Bar in Grand Central Station and Carnegie Hall. But what most don’t know is that Guastavino retired to North Carolina where he continued to design magnificent arched spaces, including the Basilica of St. Lawrence in Asheville, his final resting place. Click through to hear more!

Highly Specific Kitchenware: The Tomato Server – You Grow Girl


Image via You Grow Girl

“Nothing should ever be touched with one’s fingers. This was one of the principles behind Victorian dining etiquette and it resulted in a plethora of highly specialized utensils and serving pieces, including the Tomato Server, a decorative slotted/pierced spoon designed specifically for serving slices of fresh tomatoes.”

Mysteries of History: Let’s Have a Cookout! – The History Girl


Image via The History Girl

In honor of the upcoming holiday weekend, a post about the cook out! Ever wonder when the “cook out” became a thing” or when we started using charcoal briquettes instead of wood or who invented the grill?  Click through to find out!

Why List Case Study Houses? – LA Times


Case Study House No. 1 designed by J. R. and Gretchen Davidson. Image via architect.net

Ten Case Study houses from Los Angeles, Ventura and San Diego were listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Los Angeles Conservancy announced last week. The listing includes homes designed by household names of California modernism, such as Charles and Ray Eames, Richard Neutra and Pierre Koenig. All were part of the Case Study program organized by John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine, in 1945.  The L.A. Conservancy’s Modern Committee spearheaded the National Register nomination. Adrian Scott Fine, the conservancy’s director of advocacy, spoke with the LA Times about the importance of this national recognition, what it means for the historic houses and why an 11th home, Case Study House No. 23A, was deemed eligible to be listed but wasn’t because of the owner’s objection.

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.


SC Johnson Frank Lloyd Wright Research Tower – The Journal Times


SC Johnson Headquarters Research Tower. Image via SC Johnson

“SCJ is currently in the middle of an eight-year, $30 million restoration and conservation plan.  ‘Our family’s long partnership with Frank Lloyd Wright led to these architectural treasures that we’re honored to work in every day,’ company President and CEO Fisk.  Johnson said Friday via email. ‘The Research Tower represents the completion of the work that Wright began here in the mid-1930s with our Administration Building.  As we have made significant investments in these historic buildings and expanded our free public tour program, including the Tower was the natural next step.'”

Locally Owned Businesses Can Help Communities Thrive and Survive Climate Change – The Grist

“Cities where small, locally owned businesses account for a relatively large share of the economy have stronger social networks, more engaged citizens, and better success solving problems, according to several recently published studies.  And in the face of climate change, those are just the sort of traits that communities most need if they are to survive massive storms, adapt to changing conditions, find new ways of living more lightly on the planet, and, most important, nurture a vigorous citizenship that can drive major changes in policy.”

Never Altered Modern in Cali to be Demolished – Curbed Los Angeles


[Photograph courtesy of Los Angeles Modern Auctions; original photograph by Julius Shulman of the J. R. Davidson Kingsley residence, to be sold with the corresponding lot on Sunday, May 19, 2013]

“On Sunday, Los Angeles Modern Auctions is selling off the custom-built furniture from the Kingsley Residence in Pacific Palisades, designed by JR Davidson, the underrated architect who designed three houses for the Case Study House program (Numbers 1, 11, and 15). Why? Because the 1947 house has recently sold and the new owner is planning to demolish it very, very soon, according to the seller (members of the Kingsley family). Boo! Hiss! According to a LAMA press release, this is “One of the last remaining Davidson houses in its original form … The Kingsley residence was never altered in terms of the structure, and aside from minor updates by the architect in the 1950s, the interior of the home remained almost identical to the [Julius] Shulman photographs for over 60 years.”

Boom or Bust? Saving Rhode Island’s ‘Superman’ Building – NPR


“The iconic Industrial Trust Tower, knows as the “Superman building,” stands in downtown Providence, R.I. The art deco-style skyscraper, the tallest in the state, lost its last tenant when the bank’s lease expired in April.”

“In Rhode Island, the issue [shrinking revenues, lost jobs and general economic malaise]has come to a head around the future of the once-iconic Industrial Trust Tower, or, as it is known more affectionately, the Superman building — named for its resemblance to the building the Man of Steel leaped “in a single bound” in the . The building is empty for the first time in 85 years, and casts a shadow over a city struggling to reinvent its economy.”

Repurposing Streets with No Name – Rustwire

“In a number of cities, there are certain derelict streets that are nearly denuded of dwellings or businesses. Desolate and forlorn, these streets resemble something out of a post war apocalypse. Detroit may be the poster child du jour of such stark and sad emptiness, but there are many other examples across the Rust Belt and elsewhere. What to do with neglected streets has long been a source of planning discussion and conjecture.  In some instances entire abandoned neighborhoods have or are being converted to urban agriculture or community gardens.  However, this avid bicycle commuter has another suggestion for a few of these lowly streets without names – repurpose them to active transportation byways.”

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Cracker Barrel Oddly Authentic? – The Atlantic


Image via The Atlantic

“Cracker Barrel is today’s American history museum. Some of the restaurant’s visitors get a kick out of its old timey decor. Others would rather eat their pancakes without staring up at old hula hoops and deer heads. Either way, if you’ve ever eaten at a Cracker Barrel, you know there are antiques everywhere. Maybe you think they’re fake. But the company says they’re not. And they’re not just kitsch, either. In fact, in their own way, they’re quite sophisticated.” This piece raises a lot of question about what is authentic, what is reproduction, and how we are interpreting or recreating our history.

The New Discussion On Vinyl Siding – Preservation in Pink

“So what to call it? Simple, call it what it is, plastic siding. Not vinyl, not synthetic, but plastic. “Plastic siding” conjures more appropriate and accurate qualities of this product as relates to its use on old buildings, to wit: it’s temporary, it fades, it gets brittle, it warps, it melts, it shrinks, it cracks, it splits, a stiff wind can blow it away, you can’t paint it or maintain it, it’s tough to clean, and it will end up in a landfill with all the other plastic that’s been living outside.” Find part Part II here,  Part III here, and  Part IV of PIP’s enlightening series on how to fight against vinyl siding here.

Context, Culture, and Authenticity Fetish – Time Tells

“What a particular culture in a particular context IDENTIFIES as significant may differ – in terms of tangible versus intangible heritage; in terms of social history versus design history: in terms of the stories it deems indelible to the transmission of cultural heritage. The Burra Charter and subsequent protocols have urged us to heed this cultural input at each step of the process: WHAT do you think is important; HOW do you evaluate that importance; WHAT do you do legally or politically to enforce this; and HOW do you treat the resource you have identified, evaluated and registered?”

California’s Russian Village – PreservationNation


(l.) Jerry Blanchard at 370 South Mills Avenue circa 1940. (r.) Jerry Blanchard today. Image via PreservationNation

“Buildings listed on the National Register of Historic Places are often relics of a vastly different time, cloaked in community legend and dusty ancestral history. For Jerry Blanchard, however, the story behind the National Register-listed cluster of houses that makes up Claremont, California’s “Russian Village” isn’t even a generation removed — he spent his earliest years there.

So when Blanchard casually mentioned that his father had built a house on the National Register to family friend and California state historian Amy Crain a few months back, the two embarked on a journey to find out more.”

The Living New Deal Project – Preservation in Mississippi

“The Living New Deal Project, University of California-Berkeley, is an ambitious project with two primary goals: to map and describe every New Deal Project in the United States in one location, easily accessible to people, and to publicize how we are still benefiting today from the government investment in infrastructure from that brief period that comprised the New Deal years”

Museum Ethic and American Pickers – Keeping History Alive

“From the perspective of museum ethics, a lot of red flags went up for me. Using American Pickers as a method of deaccessioning the collection to me shows that either this museum has no collection policy or that they do not follow the collection policy. Either one is appalling to me.

The major issue that I had is when Meyer sold a folk art piece to Frank for parts. The original artwork was made up of antique pencils from all across America. Frank indicated that antique pencils are quite popular among some collectors and he could probably disassemble the piece and sell each pencil for a few bucks to get the most value from the artwork. Fully understanding Frank’s plans, Meyer sold the piece no problem.”

Steamship Anchors Community, But Its Days Might Be Numbered – NPR


Image via ssbadger.com

“Down at the waterside, the SS Badger — that’s SS for steamship — is at the dock all winter. Sixty years old, she’s almost frozen in ice and time. The hull is black and the upper decks white with a black smokestack. The ship is longer, by far, than a football field.”

Arlington House Woods: Can We Reach a Compromise? – PreservationNation

“A lot of the time, preservation battles are framed as good idea (save the place!) vs. bad ones (tear it down!) — but what about when a *good* idea threatens a historic site? What are preservationists to do then? Rob Nieweg says that’s when we go back to the drawing board and look for an even better solution.”

This Week

A weekly round-up of my favorite preservation related stories from around the web and in the newsClick on the title of each story to jump through to the original article/blog post.

Cataloging Historic Camp Springs – Cincinnati.com

Native Mark Ramler has literally written the book about how to preserve the historic stone buildings constructed by German immigrants in the 19th Century in Camp Springs, KY.  “Old buildings are my passion,” said Ramler.

Ramler wrote the 86-page book “Camp Springs, Ky., Preservation + Design Guidelines” in 2010 as part of earning his master of historic preservation degree at the University of Kentucky (my alma mater!).

The Meaning of Gary Indiana – RustWire

“Since the first buildings went up on the shifting sands of Lake County, reformers, sociologists, and commentators looked on Gary as place where a new man could be born—a new man for an industrial age. However, over the course of the 20th century Gary went from a city that represented the possibility of industrial utopia to a city consistently described as a blighted, deindustrialized dystopia. As a new city built from the ground up in the era of progressivism, Gary became a tabula rasa in discourse and in the public imagination.”

The LA That Never Was – Architizer


Proposed Frank Lloyd Wright Civic Center. Image via Architizer

“But it only took a few failed proposals from the early 20th century to send LA into a self-reinforcing spiral of freeways and sprawl. If a couple of prescient planners had had their way, the city might have grown into a model of urbanism besting the Big Apple (or at least Portland), with hundreds of miles of subways and elevated rail, thousands of parks linked by parkways, and even a raised bicycle freeway connecting Pasadena with downtown.”

Free Parking Vigilante  Strikes Cincinnati – UrbanCincy

“Residents began to notice the meters being vandalized in November 2012 when the city initially announced its intentions to lease its parking system to a private entity. The city insists that the vandalism and parking privatization is not connected. However, UrbanCincy’s investigative sleuthing has found that although the meters are not connected to city sabotage, they are instead connected to a lone vigilante who wants nothing more than to park…for free!”

Abandoned Suit Cases at Insane Asylum – Collector’s Weekly

Thelmas Suitcase

Thelma’s Suitcase. Image via Collectors Weekly

“From the 1910s through the 1960s, many patients at the Willard Asylum for the Chronic Insane left suitcases behind when they passed away, with nobody to claim them. Upon the center’s closure in 1995, employees found hundreds of these time capsules stored in a locked attic. Working with the New York State Museum, former Willard staffers were able to preserve the hidden cache of luggage as part of the museum’s permanent collection. Photographer Jon Crispin has long been drawn to the ghostly remains of abandoned psychiatric institutions. After learning of the Willard suitcases, Crispin sought the museum’s permission to document each case and its contents.”

The History of the Flapper: A Call to Freedom – The Smithsonian via Three Months by Car


Image via smithsonian.com

This week, Three Months by Car posted a link to this article at smithsonian.com about the flapper, to give us a better understanding of  Edie, Ev, and Dottie’s cross-country trip. It’s an interesting look at the rapid social changes taking place in the 1920s that are now symbolized by the bobbed hair and fashion of the times.