Even though many historic places are physically closed right now, we at the National Trust for Historic Preservation are opening a window to a world of adventure online with Virtual Preservation Month.
Throughout the month of May, the National Trust is bringing you the very best in preservation from coast to coast, offering 31 days of rich digital experiences at historic places to inspire, delight, and entertain you. Whether coming from our National Trust Historic Sites, Historic Artists' Homes and Studios, or National Treasures, each day will unlock a new experience and help you step out while you stay in. You’ll wander the rooms of iconic houses, roam wide-open spaces, and peek behind the scenes at some of your favorite historic sites—all at your own pace.
Want to be the first to know when a new experience is live? Sign up today to receive daily reminders or weekly roundups of the unlocked opportunities. It's a wonderful way to revisit your favorite places and discover new ones. Join us!
May 1 - Roam Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian Home
Pope-Leighey House—Alexandria, Virginia
Completed in 1940 and celebrating its 80th birthday in 2020, the Pope-Leighey House—a National Trust Historic Site—exemplifies Frank Lloyd Wright’s Usonian homes, a series of single-story, modestly sized residences that reflect the architect's desire to design an affordable and well-designed home for the average American. This virtual tour will take you through the home and its fascinating backstory.
May 2 - Watch a Concert at Nina Simone’s Childhood Home
Nina Simone’s Childhood Home—Tryon, North Carolina
In June 2018, the National Trust designated the humble home of activist and musician Nina Simone a National Treasure. The following year, the National Trust and Come Hear North Carolina released a concert featuring Vanessa Ferguson, a North Carolina singer known from The Voice, performing in the historic space to raise awareness about the efforts to save it. Enjoy this video of Ferguson’s performance.
May 3 - Get Your Kicks on Route 66
Route 66—Illinois to California
The most enduring highway in our public consciousness, Route 66 represents a unique moment in history that continues to define the nation’s identity: the rise of the automobile and its implications of freedom, mobility, and a quintessential American story. Travel the route via Google Earth—and dive into its past along the way.
May 4 - View Modern Sculpture at Kykuit, the Rockefeller Estate
Kykuit—Tarrytown, New York
Kykuit, a National Trust Historic Site, has been home to four generations of Rockefellers, and Governor Nelson A. Rockefeller left his mark there with an extensive collection of modern art, including 120 sculptures by European and American masters. He loved giving tours of his collection and dreamed of sharing it with the public, which his bequest to the National Trust ultimately made possible. Today, enjoy a virtual exhibition that highlights some of these 20th-century masterworks.
May 5 - Tour a Gothic Revival Mansion
Lyndhurst—Tarrytown, New York
Lyndhurst, one of America’s finest Gothic Revival mansions and a National Trust Historic Site, was designed in 1838 by Alexander Jackson Davis. With its unique architecture, park-like landscape, and comprehensive collection of original decorative arts, the mansion reflects the development of American identity and taste during the 19th and early 20th centuries.
May 6 - Join the Fun at Wilson House’s Virtual Game Night
The President Woodrow Wilson House—Washington, D.C.
The President Woodrow Wilson House's monthly game night has long been the perfect mid-week happy hour for enthusiasts of history, museums, and games. Now, this National Trust Historic Site is offering a virtual version of its traditional game night. Included with the free tickets: recipes for vintage cocktail recipes to try at home!
May 7 - Get Creative at These Famous Artists’ Home and Studio
Pollock-Krasner House—East Hampton, New York
On Tuesdays and Thursdays in May, this Historic Artist Home and Studio will unveil the creative ways artists Lee Krasner and Jackson Pollock expressed their feelings with paint. You'll also experience and discuss the art displayed in their home, and explore the barn studio filled with evidence of their masterpieces. Bonus: Education coordinator Joyce Raimondo will demonstrate how you can express your feelings through art using supplies you have at home.
May 8 - Peek Inside the Attic at Drayton Hall
Drayton Hall—Charleston, South Carolina
Step behind the ropes and join Drayton Hall staff for a behind-the-scenes look at a space that is typically off limits to visitors—the attic! At this National Trust Historic Site, you’ll see original timber framing, get a peek inside the walls where artifacts have collected for centuries, and have your questions answered during this Facebook Live. (Note: The video is available on Facebook. Facebook account not required to view.)
May 9 - Tour the Home of a Trailblazing Photographer
Alice Austen House—Staten Island, New York
Born in 1866, Alice Austen rebelled against her Victorian environment and forged an independent life that pushed the boundaries of acceptable female behavior and social rules. This Google Expedition takes you to Clear Comfort, her family home, a nationally designated LGBTQ landmark (and now a Historic Artist Home and Studio) that shaped Austen’s experiences, served as her first studio space and darkroom, and opened up a world of new subjects.
May 10 - Seek Inspiration from a Maker at Woodlawn
The “Makers and Creators: Cultivating Craft at Woodlawn” series features artists and makers who have been part of this National Trust Historic Site’s programming. Tune in to IGTV (Instagram account not required) to watch interviews with Roxana Geffen, special exhibit artist from the site’s 2020 Needlework Show. She and Site Director Amanda Phillips discuss Geffen’s inspiration for the pieces and the family connections within her work—including the latest creation Geffen made with her children!
May 11 - Learn More About Groundbreaking Textile Artist Anni Albers
The Glass House—New Canaan, Connecticut
Known for her pioneering graphic wall hangings, weavings, and designs, Anni Albers (1899-1994) is considered the most important textile artist of the 20th century. As part of the National Trust Historic Site’s “Glass House Presents” series, join Albers Foundation education director Fritz Horstman for an online lecture exploring Albers’ groundbreaking work and significant contributions to art and design.
May 12 - Browse Villa Finale’s Most Eye-Catching Objects
Villa Finale—San Antonio, Texas
With more than 12,000 individual items to explore at Villa Finale, it’s easy to see how a casual observer might miss a few. To help you out, this National Trust Historic Site’s staff has compiled the objects, room by room, that never fail to catch visitors’ eyes, as well as the ones that they personally love.
May 13 - Enjoy a Moment of Zen at Filoli
Take in the tulips from Filoli's 2020 Spring Display when you visit the Sunken Garden, Sundial, and Walled Garden displays in this video. Inspired by great English gardens, the color palette is an ode to the blue and white Delftware and Chinese ceramics collected, respectively, by prior owners Agnes Bourn and Lurline Roth.
May 14 - Enjoy 360-Degree Views of Belle Grove
Belle Grove—Middletown, Virginia
Accompany Kristen Laise, Executive Director of this National Trust Historic Site, for three guided tours from Belle Grove. Learn about the renovation of the 1918 Bank Barn to become the Beverley B. Shoemaker Welcome Center; take an early spring walk in the Belle Grove Garden; and see the local products featured in the Museum Shop.
May 15 - “Pull Up a Chair” at the Kirkland Museum
Kirkland Museum of Fine & Decorative Art—Denver, Colorado
Long admired for both form and function, chairs can be works of art and engineering marvels—as this virtual collection from the Kirkland Museum (a Historic Artist Home and Studio) creatively demonstrates. Featuring a stunning array of movements and styles, the stories behind these 45 chairs will amuse, inform, and delight virtual visitors.
May 16 - Enjoy an Original Play About Jazz Musician Bunk Johnson
The Shadows—New Iberia, Louisiana
Thanks to support from the National Trust's African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, American playwright Ifa Bayeza wrote a new one-act play titled “Bunk Johnson—Out of the Shadows: A Blues Poem.” First performed in November 2018 at The Shadows, a National Trust Historic Site, this play chronicles Johnson’s life in New Iberia and explores his place in music history.
May 17 - Discover “Hidden Sites of Labor” at Montpelier
James Madison’s Montpelier—Montpelier Station, Virginia
At Montpelier, a National Trust Historic Site, researchers are combining archaeological metal detector surveys, excavation, deed research, historical maps, remote sensing technology, and computer mapping to identify the property’s lost agricultural work sites. Their discoveries bring to light the labor of the enslaved community and give a new perspective of the Site’s "natural" areas. Explore the research through this StoryMap (best viewed on a tablet or laptop/desktop computer).
May 18 - Explore Madam C.J. Walker’s Beautiful Estate
Villa Lewaro—Irvington, New York
Villa Lewaro isn't open to the public, but you can take a virtual tour of this historic property with narration from Madam C.J. Walker's great-great granddaughter, A'Lelia Bundles. The tour includes four interior rooms as well as the terrace, swimming pool, and front of the home.
May 19 - Join a Culinary History Conversation at Cooper Molera
Cooper Molera Adobe—Monterey, California
Join us for a cooking and culinary history conversation with chef Ben Spungin of Alta Bakery and National Trust Chief Preservation Officer Katherine Malone-France. Alta Bakery operates at Cooper Molera Adobe, a National Trust Historic Site that was home to Andrew Molera, who introduced artichokes into cultivation in the Salinas Valley—and onto Americans’ dinner tables—in the early 20th century.
May 20 - Discover the History of Pickles in NYC’s Lower East Side
Lower East Side Tenement Museum—New York City, New York
Join the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, a National Trust Historic Site, for a neighborhood journey through the history of pickles. Learn how people pickled their veggies 100 years ago, why the tradition of pickling was important for many Eastern European immigrants, and how kids got a good deal on their pickle purchases. This pre-recorded event ends with a short demo of how to make your own cucumber pickles at home!
May 21 - Explore the Valentine, Virtually
The Valentine—Richmond, Virginia
The “Virtual Valentine” provides a variety of digital resources from the Valentine Museum, including online exhibitions, downloadable student workbooks, the museum's podcast, and a chance to explore the Edward V. Valentine’s Sculpture Studio (part of the Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios program). Be sure to check out the "Richmond Stories From Richmond Kids" program and download a Valentine-themed Zoom background.
May 22 - A Conversation with Phylicia Rashad
African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund—Online
Join Phylicia Rashad, co-chair and brand ambassador for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, and Brent Leggs, the program’s executive director, for a conversation about the power of preservation and the Action Fund’s critical work. From personal stories about their connection to places, to the important role that all Americans can play in telling a more inclusive American story, the discussion will amplify the critical importance of preserving African American historic places.
May 23 - Tour Boston’s Black Heritage Trail Online
African Meeting House and Abiel Smith School—Boston, Massachusetts
During the 18th and 19th centuries, Boston’s free African American community led the nation in the movement to end slavery and achieve equal rights. See their houses of worship, homes, schools, and Underground Railroad sites online through the Black Heritage Trail, presented by the Museum of African American History (a National Trust Historic Site).
May 24 - Learn About Washington, D.C’s History of Slavery
Decatur House—Washington, D.C.
Standing for more than 200 years, Decatur House is a testament to the complex history of the capital city. An excellent example of Federal-style architecture, this National Trust Historic Site features a preserved slave quarters, which also stands as one of the few remaining urban examples still in existence. Bear witness to this place’s history through this virtual tour.
May 25 - Immerse Yourself at This Unique War Memorial in Hawaiʻi
Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium—Honolulu, Hawaiʻi
The one-of-a-kind Waikīkī War Memorial Natatorium—an outdoor swimming venue with stadium seating—was built in 1927 to honor the 10,000 citizens of Hawaiʻi who served in World War I. Go behind the scenes at this National Treasure and learn more about the fight to protect it for future generations.
May 26 - Watch a Historic Vestibule Coming Back to Life
President Lincoln’s Cottage—Washington, D.C.
In this behind-the-scenes video, learn about the ongoing restoration of the vestibule at President Lincoln's Cottage, a National Monument and National Trust Historic Site located on the grounds of the historic Soldiers' Home in Washington, D.C. Once complete, the project will allow visitors to better identify with Lincoln's daily experience of coming home to the Cottage where he drafted the Emancipation Proclamation and made some of his most critical decisions during the summers of 1862-64.
May 27 - Discover Art in the Woods at Chesterwood
A National Trust Historic Site, Chesterwood is the summer home, studio, and gardens of America’s most distinguished sculptor of public monuments, Daniel Chester French. Since 1978, more than 600 sculptors have participated in the site’s annual sculpture show. Virtually visit the 2019 exhibition, “One Impulse from a Vernal Wood: Contemporary Sculpture by Rick and Laura Brown,” which has been extended through the summer 2020 season.
May 28 - Explore the Life and Times of Edith Farnsworth
Farnsworth House—Plano, Illinois
Throughout 2020, the Farnsworth House is celebrating Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered, a yearlong focus on namesake Dr. Farnsworth’s life and times. While the house remains temporarily closed, this National Trust Historic Site has been hosting video chats with Farnsworth scholars to learn more about her incredible legacy. Case in point: this conversation between professor Nora Wendl and architectural historian Alice Friedman about feminist architectural history.
May 29 - Explore Bold Ideas at the National Mall Tidal Basin
National Mall Tidal Basin—Washington, D.C.
The National Mall Tidal Basin Ideas Lab—a collaborative forum to address major challenges facing the Tidal Basin—has taken on new meaning amid the pandemic. In this dynamic Q&A led by National Trust President Paul Edmondson, principals from the five participating landscape architecture firms discuss their bold and provocative approaches to preserving, enhancing, and revitalizing this iconic National Treasure.
May 30 - Witness Innovation on Main Street
Main Street America Communities—Nationwide
Across the country, Main Street communities are responding in many different ways to the challenges from COVID-19. In this video, you’ll see firsthand how Main Street leaders are supporting small businesses, maintaining quality of life, and buoying their community members’ spirits.
May 31 - Rediscover One of the Most Important Figures in Civil Rights
Pauli Murray House—Durham, North Carolina
As an African American member of the LGBT community, women’s rights activist, and the lawyer responsible for much of the legal theory used in several landmark civil rights cases, Pauli Murray was one of the most important women of the 20th century. In this Google Arts & Culture exhibit, learn more about this pioneer’s life and the places that shaped her.
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