• 7 HOPE Crew Projects Honoring African-American History

    June 19, 2017

    Every Juneteenth, we honor the declaration of freedom for enslaved people across North America following the end of the Civil War in 1865, remember the lives of those who fought for liberty, and reflect on both our American history and common humanity.

    To commemorate this incredible American story, the National Trust’s Hands-On Preservation Experience (also known as HOPE Crew) has commissioned its 100th project at Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia. The story of Fort Monroe bookends the slavery experience in America: In 1619, the first enslaved Africans in the New World landed at the future site of the fort, and in 1861, more than 500,000 African-Americans seized their own liberty there, declaring themselves contraband and essentially spurring the beginnings of the Civil War-era freedom movement.

    In celebration of Fort Monroe’s rich history and to secure its place in our future, HOPE Crew, in partnership with the National Park Service and the Fort Monroe Authority, will deploy a team of national experts and young, local participants from The Corps Network’s member corps to rehabilitate Fort Monroe National Monument’s historic quarters this summer.

    Since its inception in 2014, HOPE Crew has engaged young people in diverse communities around the country by teaching the tools and techniques of preservation trades and offering opportunities to rehabilitate historic places in need. Many of HOPE Crew's project sites reflect the often-neglected history of African-Americans in the United States. Here's a look back at some of the incredible projects corpsmembers have completed over the past two years that help tell the story of African-Americans' legacy.

    HOPE Crew at African House

    photo by: Jamie Orillon

    African House—Natchitoches, Louisiana

    In Louisiana, partnering with the Texas Conservation Corps, HOPE Crew repaired the African House. This site is part of Melrose Plantation, a Creole site in Natchitoches, Louisiana. With the help of timber framing experts, six corpsmembers rehabilitated the African House’s roof, prepping and installing fresh Louisiana cypress timber. The plantation was first established by Louis Metoyer, a freed slave, in 1796. Now, African House is one of the Trust’s National Treasures.

    Jefferson-Chalmers District—Detroit, Michigan

    Detroit’s Jefferson-Chalmers neighborhood once served as a haven for African-Americans and immigrants. The neighborhood even housed Vanity Ballroom, which hosted both the legendary Duke Ellington and local acts. After decades of declining population and loss of manufacturing jobs, many properties in the neighborhood were deteriorating or vacant. In 2016, HOPE Crew, in partnership with the Michigan Historic Preservation Network, worked with professional craftspeople to repair five building' exteriors in the historic neighborhood. Jefferson-Chalmers is one of the Trust's National Treasures.

    photo by: Duncan Kendall

    Hinchliffe Stadium—Paterson, New Jersey

    In Paterson, generations of enthusiasts repaired a historic New Jersey stadium. First built in 1931, the landmark 10,000-seat municipal stadium is one of the last surviving Negro League baseball stadiums from the Jim Crow era. The stadium served as the home field for the New York Black Yankees and the Newark Eagles and started off the careers of Hall of Fame-inductees like Larry Doby and Josh Gibson. In April 2014, a team of 700 volunteers from HOPE Crew, Youth Corps, and other affiliations joined together to repaint decades of vandalized and deteriorated walls at historic Hinchliffe Stadium. The National Trust declared the stadium one of the 11 Most Endangered Places in 2010, and it is now one of our National Treasures.

    HOPE Crew at Raleigh National Cemetery

    photo by: Nancy Pierce

    Raleigh National Cemetery—Raleigh, North Carolina

    Created as a burial ground for fallen Union soldiers in 1865, Raleigh National Cemetery houses thousands of veterans and their families in the heart North Carolina’s capital. The cemetery’s brick wall has stood since 1875, and decades of neglect left miles of brick and mortar in need of repair. In 2014, a HOPE Crew project, partnering with the Northwest Piedmont Service Corps, repaired 40,000 bricks and restored 114 panel sections. Volunteers were aided by the crew of preservationists who started the project four years prior.

    HOPE Crew works to rehabilitate the Petersburg National Battlefield in Virignia

    photo by: National Trust for Historic Preservation

    Petersburg National Battlefield—Prince George County, Virginia

    For 10 months of the Civil War, General Ulysses S. Grant laid siege on Petersburg, causing General Robert E. Lee’s Northern Virginia Army to collapse; cutting Petersburg’s supply lines to trigger the fall of Richmond; and, ultimately, forcing Lee to surrender. Between 9,000 and 16,000 U.S. Colored Troops served in the Union Army during the Petersburg Campaign. At Petersburg National Battlefield, HOPE Crew, partnering with the Citizens Conservation Corps, worked to preserve the site’s historic Civil War fortifications by replanting grass on-site and conducting routine preventative maintenance.

    HOPE Crew in Atlanta

    photo by: Virginie Kippelen

    Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site—Atlanta, Georgia

    The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Historic Site includes the activist’s boyhood home, the Ebenezer Baptist Church, the shotgun homes, and other related properties. In 2014 and 2016, partnering with Greening Youth Foundation, corpsmembers repaired and repainted the exteriors of two shotgun homes from 1909 and five buildings along Dr. King’s birth home block. Experts trained corpsmembers on preservation trade skills, helping them restore some of Atlanta’s most treasured historic sites. In 2016, Deputy Secretary Michael Connor of the Department of the Interior joined the crew to paint house exteriors at the site.

    Chalmette National Cemetery Volunteers

    photo by: A. J. Sisco

    Chalmette National Cemetery—Chalmette, Louisiana

    Managed by the National Park Service, the Chalmette National Cemetery was the site of the 1815 Battle of New Orleans. Since 1864, the Cemetery has served as the final resting place for soldiers from the Civil War, Spanish-American War, World Wars I and II, and Vietnam War. The cemetery houses over 14,000 headstones, including those of Louisiana Union soldiers and the United States Colored troops, who fought in the Civil War. In a two-year effort, over 1,400 HOPE Crew volunteers documented, realigned, and restored headstones in the cemetery, gaining preservation skills as they helped connect New Orleans, local preservationists, and the National Park Service. Chalmette National Cemetery sits outside New Orleans as a unit of the Jean Laffite National Park and Preserve.

    Tell Us Your Story

    African-American history has too often been a neglected chapter in our American story. Let’s change that. Tell us what African-American historic places have made an impact on American history— and how your family history has helped shaped you—using #savingplaces.

  • HOPE Crew Program Reaches Milestone 100th Project

    June 13, 2017

    Today, HOPE Crew announced Fort Monroe National Monument in Hampton, Virginia, as the site of their 100th project. In partnership with the National Park Service and the Fort Monroe Authority, HOPE Crew will deploy a team of national experts and young, local participants from The Corps Network’s member corps to rehabilitate Fort Monroe National Monument’s historic quarters this summer.

    “The success of HOPE Crew highlights a hands-on approach to saving places that—beyond addressing deferred maintenance at historic sites—is making a positive difference in the lives of future preservationists and the communities where they serve,” said Stephanie K. Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “We’re excited to continue broadening the preservation movement with our partners and to kick-off HOPE Crew’s 100th project at Fort Monroe National Monument, a National Treasure and site of one of our country’s most extraordinary chapters in the fight for freedom.”

    At Fort Monroe National Monument, known to many as “Freedom’s Fortress” for being the place where more than 500,000 African Americans took the first step in ending their enslavement during the American Civil War, HOPE Crew participants working on former living quarters built in 1834 will have an opportunity to discover the site’s history while acquiring advanced preservation skills that make them competitive in the job market, including: foundation stabilization; wall assessments; re-pointing; masonry; painting and refinishing; and carpentry.

    “We cannot understand the Civil War—the most significant event in American history—without knowing what happened at Fort Monroe,” said Terry E. Brown, National Park Service superintendent of Fort Monroe National Monument. “In helping us preserve historic Building 50 this summer, HOPE Crew participants are also helping us commemorate the courage of Civil War-era freedom seekers and allowing future generations to understand the full American story.”

    The stone walls and moat of Fort Monroe.

    photo by: Patrick McKay

    Since the start of the program in 2014, HOPE Crew (named for “Hands-On Preservation Experience”) has completed 99 projects around the country, trained more than 600 young people and veterans in preservation trades and recruited over 2,000 volunteers to protect places that are significant to their communities. In just three years, aligning the National Park Service with The Corps Network membership of over 130 Corps across the country, the program has contributed 80,000 hours and $14.3 million worth of preservation work at an array of historic sites, including: Martin Luther King, Jr.’s boyhood home in Georgia; Painted Desert Community Complex in Arizona, the last remaining structure in the National Park Service designed by modernist Richard Neutra; and the White Grass Dude Ranch in Montana where cabins were restored for use as a future training facility for the Western Center for Historic Preservation.

    “We are proud to have played a role in the development and growth of the HOPE Crew program and are excited to celebrate the 100th project at a site bearing as much historical significance as Fort Monroe,” said Mary Ellen Sprenkel, CEO of The Corps Network. “The mission of Corps is to provide young adults the opportunity to learn job and life skills through service to our country. HOPE Crew allows Corpsmembers to also learn about our country’s history and engage in keeping America’s past alive.”

    At a public event on Monday, June 19, 2017, 1PM ET, at Fort Monroe National Monument, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the National Park Service, the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Fort Monroe Authority, and The Corps Network will launch the program’s 100th project and honor the Juneteenth holiday that celebrates the ending of slavery in the United States. The public and members of the media can join a roster of special guests, government officials, local leaders and HOPE Crew participants to learn about what makes Fort Monroe National Monument an essential landmark of African American history, as well as the wide-ranging importance of engaging young people across the country through preservation work on public lands.

  • HOPE Crew Volunteers to Clean 10,000 Headstones and Markers in Chalmette National Cemetery

    April 21, 2017

    Chalmette National Cemetery

    photo by: A. J. Sisco

    Chalmette National Cemetery is part of the Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve.

    HOPE Crew project volunteers in Chalmette National Cemetery are on track to clean 10,000 headstones and markers by this weekend (April 22 and 23) in preparation for Memorial Day. As of Thursday, April 20th, 411 volunteers from the local community and from across the United States have contributed a total 1,303 hours cleaning, documenting and realigning headstones in service to our veterans.

    This Volunteer Month event has received participants from several organizations including the American Heritage Girls Troops LA 1502 and 1504, Holy Cross High School, the Single Marine Program of New Orleans, Tulane University, Boy Scouts of America Troop 315, the East High School JCFA, JROTC LA-931st, St. Francis High School, the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, as well as many dedicated individuals and families.

    HOPE Crew partners at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Jean Lafitte National Historical Park and Preserve, and the National Center for Preservation Technology and training would like to thank all participants and project sponsors at D/2 Biological Solution, Oak and Laurel Cemetery Preservation, LLC, PJ’s Coffee, Raising Cane’s Chicken Fingers, and McDonald’s for their support in this effort.

    Despite reaching this preservation milestone, there is still work to be done. Chalmette National Cemetery is the resting place of an estimated 16,000 troops, and thousands of monuments remain in need of cleaning, documentation, and realignment before the Memorial Day flag planting volunteer project on May 26.

    The HOPE Crew Project continues through Thursday, April 27.

  • HOPE Crew Revitalizes Eleanor Roosevelt’s Playhouse

    September 14, 2016

    This summer, Onondaga Earth Corps has been hard at work restoring the playhouse at Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site as part of a HOPE Crew project. The project, which involves restoring the exterior of the playhouse, started in July and will run through the end of September. Corps members will learn skills in masonry, carpentry, and preservation during the course of the project.

    "Before I came out here, I didn't know anything about historical preservation," said Rashad Ingram. "But after learning about the history of this place and what our ancestors did for us, I want to keep preservation going to show younger people why this is so important; we are a part of history."

    For the full story and pictures of HOPE Crew in action, visit Eleanor Roosevelt National Historic Site's blog.

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