This Preservation Month, Tell the Full American Story
Over the next 31 days, take action to save, celebrate, and discover places that reflect the breadth of American history.
Since 1973, we at the National Trust have joined the preservation movement in celebrating historic places during May. This year, we’re focusing Preservation Month on telling the full American story, offering you a wide variety of ways to discover and save places that showcase the depth and diversity of our nation’s history.
As you journey through the month with us, we hope you feel inspired to take action and help us #TellTheFullStory.
Learn the “Power of a Story” with Deborah Omowale Jarmon
“Power of a Story” marks the sixth year of Villa Finale’s annual parlor lectures, a series of intimate talks with poets, politicians, academics, and musicians that have become a signature of this National Trust Historic Site.
The first virtual lecture of 2021 on May 6 features Deborah Omowale Jarmon, a community advocate with a mission to connect the African American community to each other, opportunities, and our history. Her new position as the CEO/Director of the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum provides an opportunity to carry out her mission.
Explore Walter Hood’s Vision for the Future of the National Mall Tidal Basin
As part of the Tidal Basin Ideas Lab, five leading landscape architecture firms have unveiled plans that reimagine the future of Washington D.C.’s iconic Tidal Basin. Experience Hood Design Studio’s vision for the Tidal Basin through a novella in four parts that reflects the participation of many voices, both heard and unheard. Hood Design Studio, based in Oakland, was founded by Walter Hood in 1992. The Studio seeks to strengthen ecological and cultural patterns and practices, including those that remain unseen or unrecognized.
Explore the entire Tidal Basin Ideas Lab Exhibition, and dive into just-released booklets that explore Tidal Basin Ideas Lab themes and public feedback. You too can give your opinion on how the Tidal Basin can better reflect our shared American ideals to tell the full American story.
Join the Farnsworth House in Reconsidering Edith Farnsworth
In 2020, the Farnsworth House, a Modernist masterpiece and a National Trust Historic Site, began celebrating “Edith Farnsworth Reconsidered” with exhibitions and programming focused on namesake Dr. Edith Farnsworth’s life and times. The centerpiece of this project, which will run through 2021, is Edith Farnsworth’s Country House—a temporary refurnishing of Farnsworth House to reflect its 1955 appearance. A new tour and exhibits focus on the untold story of this remarkable woman, who was an accomplished research physician, classically trained violinist, poet and translator, world traveler, and music-lover.
Visit the Farnsworth House website to explore its offerings, both virtual and in-person, for "The Year of Edith."
Uncover Women’s History at Terrace Plaza Hotel
Completed in 1948, the Terrace Plaza Hotel was one of the first post-war hotels in America, and the first hotel by Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (SOM). Pioneering female architect Natalie de Blois played a major role in the hotel’s design. Mostly vacant since 2008, the hotel is deteriorating—a state that landed it on the 2020 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places. Local landmark designation passed the Historic Conservation Board in 2019. Local advocates believe that rehabilitating the Terrace Plaza will not only preserve a key early modern landmark but will provide economic benefits for downtown Cincinnati.
Help Expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site
Though Brown v. Board is most often associated with Topeka, Kansas, multiple historic places from communities in South Carolina; Delaware; Washington, D.C.; and Virginia tell a more complete story of the ongoing struggle for educational equity. The National Trust is working with local partners and champions in Congress to establish National Park Service (NPS) Affiliated Areas and expand the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site.
Ask your elected officials to support the Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act (H.R. 920 / S. 270). Also, check out National Trust staffer Leslie Canaan's testimony on this bill during National Park Week and how it will help diversify the National Park Service's interpretation of American history.
Learn How Women of Color Transformed the Suffrage Movement
The Speaker Series at President Woodrow Wilson House (a National Trust Historic Site) features notable historians, curators, and leaders exploring history, historical figures, and the social movements of the early 20th century and their relevance today. In the May 11th event on “Recasting the Vote,” Dr. Cathleen D. Cahill tells the powerful stories of a multiracial group of activists who propelled the national suffrage movement toward a more inclusive vision of equal rights. With these feminists of color in the foreground, Cahill recasts the suffrage movement as an unfinished struggle that extended beyond the ratification of the Nineteenth Amendment, while also reminding us of the work that remains.
Honoring a Landmark of Lesbian History in San Francisco
From the moment they purchased the property together in 1955, partners, advocates, and authors Phyllis Lyon and Del Martin energized the San Francisco LGBTQIA+ community, offering their home as a safe space for women to champion women's rights. Over many decades, and from this same space, they successfully fought to validate and decriminalize lesbian identity, shape anti-violence and anti-discrimination policies, and promote marriage equality and elder rights.
Now, thanks to a coalition that includes the National Trust, San Francisco Supervisor Rafael Mandelman, the Friends of Lyon-Martin House, the GLBT Historical Society, San Francisco Heritage, and others, the house was recently designated as San Francisco's first local landmark of lesbian activism. Learn more about this place's fascinating background and its owners' pivotal roles in LGBT history.
Discover Historic Houses of Worship Nationwide
As hubs for community engagement, social service programs, and the arts, historic houses of worship are vital to human belonging. Yet though the structures are considered icons of stability, today congregations of every faith face challenges in stewarding these sacred places.
Enter the National Fund for Sacred Places, born out of a belief that providing technical and financial support for congregations could build capacity and increase the stability of these critical yet disappearing historic community centers. Learn more about the National Fund for Sacred Places and how it is helping save diverse historic houses of worship such as Mokuaikaua Church in Honolulu, Hawai'i, and Congregation Beth Ahabah in Richmond, Virginia.
Virtual Tour: “Reclaiming Black Spaces” at Lower East Side Tenement Museum
The Tenement Museum’s newest initiative, “Reclaiming Black Spaces,” connects stories of Black and African American history to the Museum’s existing stories of migration. This virtual tour highlights stories of how Black and African Americans shaped Lower Manhattan as they made homes, businesses, and communities.
From the story of Sebastiaen de Britto, one of the first Black residents of the area in the 1640s, to Studio We, a musicians’ collective in the 1970s, connect with this National Trust Historic Site to expand your understanding of today’s Lower East Side. May dates for this tour include May 13, May 20, and May 27.
The Journey to Rehabilitate Harada House
With their 1918 landmark Superior Court decision—The People of State of California vs. Jukichi Harada, Mine Harada, Sumi Harada, and Yoshizo Harada—the Harada family successfully challenged the “Alien Land Law of 1913” that barred immigrants and their children from owning property in California. The Harada House (included on the National Trust’s 2020 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places) embodies the battle against restrictive anti-immigrant and racist property laws that defined citizenship by birth.
The Harada family, comprised of Japanese immigrants and American-born children, lived in the home until they were forcibly incarcerated during World War II in “relocation centers.” Their parents having perished during incarceration, only daughter Sumi Harada returned home after the war and opened the Harada House as a place for the victims of incarceration to rebuild their lives. When Sumi Harada died in 2000, the Harada House was donated to the City of Riverside.
Harada House has serious structural issues and is now at risk of collapse. Local advocates are leading a multi-million dollar campaign to rehabilitate the property as a center for immigration history and racial and social justice as part the Museum of Riverside.
To learn more, watch the California Preservation Foundation’s webinar about Harada House and saving sites of diversity.
Save Local Flavor by Backing Historic Small Restaurants
Together with American Express, we launched the Backing Historic Small Restaurants grant program to support the beloved eateries that have stood the test of time and served their communities for decades—but now are facing their biggest challenge yet from the COVID-19 pandemic. Learn more about the program.
Finding HOPE in the Field at McDonogh 19 School Building
More than 60 years after the McDonogh 19 School, located in the Lower 9th Ward of New Orleans, was integrated on November 14, 1960, HOPE Crew brought a new hands-on learning experience to this historic Civil Rights site (also a recipient of a 2020 African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund grant). Watch the video to see the project in action, and learn more about what’s next for this historic school through the National Trust’s partnership with Benjamin Moore.
With support from Capital One, in early April 2021 a socially distanced crew with members from two Louisiana youth-serving programs learned carpentry and other skills as they worked to restore existing stairways and recreate a third stairway. As a result, a new generation of diverse youth learned under-taught skills, helping to preserve historic materials and aid in giving this site new life.
Protect the Place That Ignited the Civil Rights Movement
The horror of the kidnapping and murder of Emmett Till in August 1955 helped ignite the American Civil Rights movement, inspiring leaders to fight an unjust system. Roberts Temple Church of God in Christ in Chicago tells the full story of Emmett’s murder, his open-casket funeral, and the subsequent “trial of the century.” Now, five senators have introduced bipartisan legislation to establish Roberts Temple as a national historic site in the National Park System.
Join the National Trust in Telling the Full Story
When you give to the National Trust, you help raise the profiles of important places where American history unfolded. You ignite practices that make older buildings and neighborhoods the centerpiece of revitalized cities and towns. You honor diverse cultural identities that are woven into the walls where great lives composed, invented, triumphed, and sacrificed. And you help us protect irreplaceable sites that embody the stories of all Americans so that every person has the opportunity to see themselves reflected in our country’s heritage.
Without the enduring support of members and supporters like you, we would not be able to protect, restore, and reimagine historic places that tell the full American story.
We’ve set a goal to raise $40,000 by May 31 to continue our vital work.
Your donation today helps us save the places, memories, and stories that reflect the diverse people who make up our country.
Protect the History of Rassawek
Rassawek, located at the fork of the Rivanna and James rivers, was the historical capital of the Monacan Indian Nation, the town to which all others in the Monacan Confederacy paid tribute. Today the confluence of the rivers, known as Point of Fork, contains at least six National Register-eligible archaeological sites and the final resting places of Monacan ancestors. Learn more about this endangered historic place (included on the National Trust’s 2020 list of America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places) from Chief Kenneth Branham of the Monacan Indian Nation.
Yet despite this place’s significance, the James River Water Authority (JRWA) plans to build a water pumping facility on the Point, claiming the site is more economical than the alternative locations proposed by the Monacan Indian Nation.
Why We Must Save African American Historic Places
Phylicia Rashad, co-chair and brand ambassador for the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund, and Brent Leggs, the program’s executive director, held a fascinating conversation in 2020 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, their discussion amplified the critical importance of preserving Black historic places.
Help Strengthen the Historic Tax Credit
The historic tax credit (HTC) helps preserve the places and stories in our most vulnerable communities. The largest federal program specifically supporting historic preservation, the HTC generates local jobs, boosts economic activity, creates new affordable housing, and adds revenue for federal, state, and local governments by rehabilitating properties. But this incentive, now more than 40 years old, needs updating. Help us strengthen the Historic Tax Credit by supporting the Historic Tax Credit Growth and Opportunity Act (HTC-GO) (H.R.2294).
Celebrate the Preservation Community’s Changemakers
Watch the moving National Preservation Awards program from PastForward Online 2020, presented by television host and preservationist Bob Vila, and featuring a diverse array of people and programs across the United States that showcase the breadth and depth of historic preservation.
The National Preservation Awards, presented annually at the PastForward Conference, are bestowed on distinguished individuals, nonprofit organizations, public agencies, and corporations whose skill and determination have given new meaning to their communities through preservation of our architectural and cultural heritage.
These efforts include citizen attempts to save and maintain important landmarks; companies and craftsmen whose work restores the richness of the past; the vision of public officials who support preservation projects and legislation in their communities; and educators and journalists who help Americans understand the value of preservation.
Protecting the Legacy of HBCUs
Earlier this year, the National Trust and its partners launched the HBCU Cultural Heritage Stewardship Initiative, an African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund program that provides technical assistance and grant funds for new Cultural Heritage Stewardship Plans at Historically Black Colleges and Universities. The partnership seeks to empower HBCUs with the resources to protect, preserve, and leverage their historic campuses, buildings, and landscapes, ensuring these academic institutions and symbols of African American pride are preserved to inspire and educate future generations. Learn more about the program and its eight inaugural recipients.
Support a National Historic Trail Designation for Route 66
Route 66 is the most culturally celebrated and internationally recognized stretch of highway in America. Its designation as a National Historic Trail will have a significant economic impact in the eight states along the iconic route and help spur critical preservation efforts in the hundreds of diverse communities that call it home. And most importantly, it will help preserve Route 66 as a vital, iconic, and evolving piece of Americana for generations to come.
Dive Deep into Preservation’s Relevance and Resilience
Plenary speakers at PastForward Online 2020, including Darren Walker, President of the Ford Foundation, and Sherrilyn Ifill, President and Director-Counsel of the NAACP Legal Defense and Educational Fund, expounded on the conference theme of Resilience and Relevance through the lens of preservation as social justice, the importance of telling the full American story, and how histories of marginalized communities can best be represented in preservation practice. Read the latest Forum Journal to hear the speakers address painful pasts and the importance of preserving the physical evidence of these truths.
Want to stay in the loop about PastForward 2021? Sign up to receive conference emails and you’ll get important news and updates such as speaker announcements, event highlights, and registration information.
Explore Women’s Artistic Legacies at Historic Artists’ Homes and Studios
Historic Artists' Homes and Studios, a program of the National Trust, has added four new sites, each one the preserved home and studio of a significant American woman artist. All currently open to the public, these places—Hilltop House, The Victor D’Amico Institute of Art, Pond Farm, and Saarinen House—place women’s inspiring stories at the forefront and help fulfill a vital need for more gender equity in framing artistic heritage.
Discover Incredible Stories of African American History
In July 2020, the National Trust announced more than $1.6 million in grants to 27 sites and organizations through its African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund. Discover the stories—some known, some yet untold—behind the most recent recipients, who exemplify centuries of African American resilience, activism, and achievement.
Help Protect the Endangered Alazan-Apache Courts
Opened in 1940-41, the Alazan-Apache Courts—aka Los Courts—is the oldest and largest extant public housing complex in San Antonio, Texas. Conceived at a time when housing, schools, and public facilities were legally segregated, Los Courts provided affordable housing for San Antonio’s majority Mexican American Westside, where families struggled with poverty, lack of municipal services, severe flood conditions, and high death rates. However, the San Antonio Housing Authority is planning to demolish these historic structures.
Learn How Buffalo’s Northland Workforce Training Center Makes an Impact
In 2019, Buffalo's Northland Workforce Training Center opened its doors after a full-scale rehabilitation, embracing its industrial past as it engages and strengthens the local community. Mindful of the historic lack of diversity and access in the manufacturing and energy sectors, the center focuses on serving students of low-income and other underrepresented groups to develop a skilled workforce. Learn more about this recipient of the National Trust Community Investment Corporation’s Qualified Low-Income Community Investment of the Year award
Take a Closer Look at the History of Rosenwald Schools
Rosenwald Schools were the joint mission of philanthropist Julius Rosenwald and reformer Booker T. Washington to close the racial education gap, which led to the construction of 4,978 schools for Black children during the early 20th century.
In the Spring 2021 issue of Preservation magazine, learn more about photographer and author Andrew Feiler's quest to document 105 of the approximately 500 extant school buildings, resulting in his new book, A Better Life for Their Children. Photos from the book (which contains an afterword by Brent Leggs, executive director of the National Trust’s African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund) are tentatively slated to be exhibited at Atlanta’s National Center for Civil and Human Rights in May 2021.
Want to learn more about Rosenwald Schools? Explore this interactive map that describes how Black communities across the American South took education into their own hands.
Celebrate Exceptional Main Streets Across the Country
Each year, Main Street America recognizes exceptional Main Street communities whose successes serve as a model for comprehensive, preservation-based commercial district revitalization with the Great American Main Street Award (GAMSA). Since the award’s inception in 1995, 100 Main Street programs have been honored, with winners representing small towns, mid-sized communities, and urban commercial districts from every region in the country.
Learn more about the 2020 GAMSA recipients and their demonstrated commitment to economic and cultural diversity: Boyne City Main Street in Michigan, Kendall Whittier Main Street in Oklahoma, and Downtown Tupelo Main Street Association in Mississippi.
Explore the Many Facets of Native American History
American history begins not with the first European settlers or the signing of the Declaration of Independence, but with the people who lived here for centuries before: Native Americans. Their diverse cultures, traditions, and histories expand our lens of what should be preserved and challenge us to think beyond the classic definition of historic preservation. Learn more about this multifaceted history in Native American preservationists’ own words, from Angelo Baca’s (Navajo and Hopi) personal connection to the Bears Ears landscape to Ada Deer’s (Menominee) experience as an activist, to Gov. Brian Vallo’s PastForward presentation about his pueblo of Acoma’s concepts of resilience and promise.
Envision the Future of Preservation
As our nation grapples with significant challenges—from racial injustice to climate change and the ongoing pandemic—the work of preservation has never been more important. At the same time, we at the National Trust hear calls for change in historic preservation practice and policy.
To ensure that the movement remains a resilient and relevant force for positive change, the National Impact Agenda aims to articulate our shared values and describe actions we can take—individually and collectively—to deepen the impacts of the work of historic preservation. Learn more about this ongoing effort.