Places Sustain Us: An update from National Trust President Paul Edmondson

March 23, 2020 by Paul Edmondson

Using technology to experience historic places can bring us much needed escape and perspective. Over the last week, our historic sites have quickly taken their experiences digital and are developing innovative new ways to engage with these places—from Virtual Game Night at President Lincoln’s Cottage to online versions of our annual plein air competition at the Shadows on the Teche and our needlework show at Woodlawn. With just a click or two, you can watch a joyful behind-the-scenes view of installing Yayoi Kusama’s Dots Obsession at the Glass House or take in the details of Luftwerk’s incredible light installation at the Farnsworth House.

Please connect with us on Instagram (@savingplaces), where we will be highlighting a range of ways to experience our historic sites. But rest assured that, while we are taking this opportunity to prototype and build more robust online experiences at National Trust Historic Sites, we are also continuing to steward these remarkable places so that they will be ready to welcome you back when this period of social distancing ends. Our historic sites—and thousands of others around the country—are community touchstones and they will be even more important when this crisis abates.

Old places and their stories are also inspiring as we work to meet the challenges before us. If you are looking for both diversion and inspiration, make a virtual visit to Villa Lewaro, the estate of Madam C.J. Walker overlooking the Hudson River in Irvington, New York. You might have seen the new Netflix series about this remarkable woman, who was born in rural Louisiana two years after the Emancipation Proclamation and through her intellect, perseverance, and ingenuity, built a cosmetics and hair care empire and became America’s first self-made female millionaire, while also empowering scores of African American women as sales representatives. She celebrated and engaged others with this success by building Villa Lewaro, which she called her “dream of dreams.” As a part of our African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, the National Trust is working to secure a bright future for this place—and many others that represent the strength of the human spirit.

In the days and weeks ahead, we’ll continue sharing stories, resources, and updates to connect you with historic places to help navigate this unprecedented moment. We hope you will share with us the places that are helping you get through these challenging times with us—you can contact us by email or use #savingplaces on social media.

Now more than ever, we look to our history for courage, comfort, and inspiration. We've assembled a collection of resources to help our community stay engaged with the places we love.

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