As we enter the dog days of summer, the Greater Hudson Heritage Network is gearing up for fall with major improvements to our website, www.greaterhudson.org. Our three year historic house practicum came to a close this spring, with a symposium and workshops about the historic house as container (as envelope, site, and landscape). Visit the Historic House Resources page on our site for links to the presentations made this year. In addition the Historic House Resources page is soon to be expanded with new resources on issues dealt with at this year’s historic house practicum. Here is a sampling of some of them:
The workshop held on April 20 at Lyndhurst, a National Trust property in Tarrytown, dealt with historic houses and green facilities management. A great resource on this subject is found at the website for The National Trust for Historic Preservation at www.preservationnation.org/issues/sustainability. This section of their website includes case-studies of rehabilitation projects that included “green” aspects, speeches on sustainability, facts about the costs of new construction versus preserving historic structures, and news and blog entries dealing with green facilities management. There are also a couple of excerpts on-line from the Trust’s latest Forum Journal, “Positioning Preservation in a Green World.”
One of the more exciting projects the National Trust has been involved with is the Preservation Green Lab, located in Seattle, Washington. According to the Trust, the Lab will, “coordinate demonstration projects and provide technical assistance and model policies – all in an effort to encourage municipalities and states around the country to fully consider historic preservation and the existing building stock in formulating their climate change action plans.” Instead of just talking about what should be done, the Trust has decided to actually take action itself.
Much of what the Trust and similar organizations have been doing recently with green facilities management has been inspired by the Pocantico Proclamation for Sustainability and Historic Preservation, developed in November of 2008 by a team of preservationists, architects, and energy experts. The proclamation, which can be found on the National Trust website, acknowledges problems such as climate change and energy overuse and offers ideas on how historic houses can deal with these issues.
Another issue dealt with at this year’s May 4th workshop was master planning for historic sites and their “campuses”. At the workshop, The Pocantico Center and Woodstock’s Byrdcliffe master plans were presented.
The Historic Preservation Field Services Bureau of New York State is just putting the finishing touches on The New York State Historic Preservation plan for 2009-2013. In the making of the plan, the bureau sought input from a broad range of New York residents, from visitors to the State Fair in Syracuse to historic house experts. A number of issues were identified from this input, and this master plan gives suggestions on how to deal with these pressing issues, such as the fragmentation of state agencies and the unawareness of the public about the historic resources of New York State. A draft of the plan can be found at http://nysparks.state.ny.us/shpo/planning/index.htm.
Historic Sites are more than the buildings, as our historic house practicum acknowledges, and a major part of many of these sites is the landscape. For historic house landscapes a great resource is The National Park Service’s Heritage Preservation Service’s Historic Landscape Initiative, which lives on-line at http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/hli. The Initiative’s website includes the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for the Treatment of Cultural Landscapes. These guidelines are useful to those just entering the field, as they make distinctions between preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction, while also being in-depth enough to be useful to veterans of cultural landscape treatment. The website also includes a preservation brief from 1994, entitled “Protecting Cultural Landscapes” as well as links to other publications put out by the National Park Service that deal with historic landscapes.
In my mind, the most interesting part of the website is Cultural Landscape Currents, an on-line journal of case studies of the stewardship of historic landscapes. The most recent case study posted deals with Minnesota Highway facilities, such as scenic overlooks and picnicking grounds, created during The New Deal of the 1930’s.
Turning towards the future, as the historic house practicum comes to a close, the Greater Hudson Heritage Network has more exciting ventures on the horizon. Come and join us on October 2nd for our annual meeting at the Overlook Lodge at Bear Mountain to see and hear what we have been doing and what lies ahead of us. We hope to see you there!
– Ansel Lurio, GHHN Resource Assistant