February 27, 2024

Meeting a Need: Five Ways HOPE Crew Has Made a Difference

In March 2014, in response to the dwindling numbers of preservation trades practitioners, the National Trust for Historic Preservation launched the Hands-on Preservation Experience, more commonly known as HOPE Crew. In the ten years since its founding, the impact of this program on National Parks, sacred spaces, cemeteries, and along historic Route 66 is evident as volunteers conserved historic sites while also learning valuable skills in the preservation trades. To highlight this a decade of supporting historic trades, here are five ways that HOPE Crew has made a difference.

Training New Volunteers and Skilled Trades Craftspeople

A group of people standing in front of a building with scaffolding in HOPE Crew gear.

photo by: Tristan Paiige

HOPE Crew and its all female lead and majority female crew project in Astoria, Oregon.

Since its inception HOPE Crew provided hands-on preservation training for 860 paid participants and over 3600 volunteers. Acting as a trades incubator, the program developed short, experiential opportunities to cultivate a pipeline for longer trades programs and degrees in hands-on work. Furthermore, HOPE Crew prioritized creating a nurturing environment to encourage a more diverse and representative preservation trades community. One example is the all-female lead and majority-female crew project offered in Astoria, Oregon in partnership with the National Trust's Where Women Made History initiative. Participants learned window restoration skills from trades expert Ariana Makau.

Encouraging YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard)

A group of HOPE Crew participants posing at Salinas Pueblo Missions.

photo by: Minesh Bacrania

Participants learn how to work with traditional earthen architecture at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument in Mountainair, New Mexico.

Encouraging YIMBY (Yes in My Backyard)

With the heart of grassroots missions and the reach of national initiatives, HOPE Crew spearheaded over 200 preservation projects in 31 states, Washington, D.C., and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Partnering with local organizations and creating paid opportunities for local youth, HOPE Crew has created a national footprint, with a passion for local impact. The HOPE Crew project at Salinas Pueblo Missions National Monument is an example of how engaging local youth in traditional trades can make an impact by teaching traditional earthen building practices

Training Students to Digitally Document Sites at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)

HOPE Crew Preservation Practicum participants learn to restore windows at Tuskegee University

photo by: Molly Baker

Tuskegee University Architecture students learn window restoration from James Turner as part of a concerted effort by the National Trust to engage HBCU students in historic building preservation.

Since 1998 the National Trust has supported the preservation of HBCUs, first by placing these important institutions on its list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and more recently through the work of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. The goal has been to strengthen the stewardship capacity of HBCUs, while also raising national awareness of their significance and the ongoing threats of demolition, deferred maintenance, and insufficient funding.

Over the past decade, over 150 HBCU students, many focused-on architecture, participated in preservation work across multiple HOPE Crew training initiatives, providing students the tools to document historic sites at HBCUs. In one such program HOPE Crew offered hands-on training, including ongoing opportunities at Tuskegee University, continuing the tradition founder Booker T. Washington set of “learning by doing.”.

Completing Critical Preservation Repairs at Historic Sites Across the United States

Participant Matteo Harry practices repointing techniques on the portico of the hospital building. Estate Little Princess, St. Croix, USVI

photo by: Nicole Canegata Photography

Participant Matteo Harry practices repointing techniques on the portico of the hospital building at Estate Little Princess in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands.

From masonry to plasterwork, timber framing to window restoration–the preservation projects completed by HOPE Crew have tallied over 20 million dollars in preservation work for meaningful and often under resourced historic sites. One such site was the Estate Little Princess in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where HOPE Crew worked with the Nature Conservancy and CHANT (Crucian Heritage and Nature Tourism) to offer traditional masonry training at an 18th Century Dutch Colonial Sugar Plantation turned hospital for enslaved people that is a now coral reef restoration station.

Building a Volunteer Ethic

photo by: Duncan Kendall

Over 700 volunteers pitched in to paint the historic Hinchliffe Baseball Stadium, one of the few remaining Negro Baseball League parks in the country.

HOPE Crew utilizes their volunteer project model to support and engage communities in large regeneration initiatives at local historic sites. Coupled with many Introduction to the Preservation Trades experiences with paid participants, HOPE Crew organizes a weekend community workshops that allows neighbors, residents, and passionate locals to come out and support the site and project and also use valuable hands-on preservation skills for their own homes or other buildings they steward.

In 2014 over 700 HOPE Crew volunteers used 1000 gallons of donated Valspar paint to repaint Hinchliffe Stadium, a historic Negro league baseball stadium and a National Historic Landmark. This work demonstrated the community’s love of this neglected building and lead to the development of the Hinchliffe Master Urban Renewal with an investment of over $104 million in renovations, making use of historic tax credits and creating 76 housing units for seniors and a National Negro League Baseball Museum.

Donate Today to Help Save the Places Where Our History Happened.

Donate to the National Trust for Historic Preservation today and you'll help preserve places that tell our stories, reflect our culture, and shape our shared American experience.

Milan Jordan is the director of HOPE Crew (Hands-On Preservation Experience).

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