September 19, 2022

Preservation Magazine's Final Frame

Every issue of Preservation magazine features an Instagram photograph on its back page from users who deploy the hashtags #SavingPlaces or #TellTheFullStory. Here are few highlights from recent issues.

The interior of the Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens in San Clemente, California.

photo by: Daniel J. Kiser

Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens, San Clemente, California, 1927

Photo posted on Instagram by Daniel J. Kiser (@danieljkiser) on April 2, 2020

WHY THIS PLACE? I graduated in 2019 from the Master of Architecture program at the University of Notre Dame. For my thesis project I designed a theoretical rebuilding scheme for La Casa de Maria, a spiritual retreat center in Montecito, California, that was severely damaged by the 2018 mudslides. I spent two weeks traveling around Southern California looking at other Spanish Colonial Revival houses for research and inspiration. I wanted to see what we love so much about [them] that makes us want to preserve them, while thinking about how I can take those things and use them to design new buildings.

One of the places I visited was Casa Romantica Cultural Center and Gardens. Some of the houses were private residences and were hard to get into, but Casa Romantica is open to the public. I loved the play of light in that space—how the hall was a little darker than the sunken, light-filled living room. There was so much contrast between small, cozy spaces and grand, large spaces, which is lost in a lot of new houses.

The exterior of Abbott Memorial Library in South Pomfret, Vermont.

photo by: Buildings of New England

Abbott Memorial Library, South Pomfret, Vermont, 1905

Photo posted on Instagram by @buildingsofnewengland on October 20, 2020

WHY THIS PLACE? I’m a preservationist by trade. After growing up in New England and moving away for grad school, I eventually realized how special New England was and moved back. I’m in my 20s, and there’s a lot more diversity in the preservation field now than in the past. [There’s more interest in] places that may have been overlooked. That’s exciting for me. I like telling the stories of smaller buildings.

This fall, I was driving up to Woodstock, Vermont. I got lost and ended up in Pomfret, just north of Woodstock. I drove past this building and turned back around and took a picture.

The library is not what you would think of for a rural New England library. It’s brick and stone and is designed in an eclectic mix of styles. The building is on the National Register, so it was easy to research.

Ira Abbott, at that time an associate Supreme Court justice for the territory of New Mexico, gave the library to the town as a memorial to his parents and the Union soldiers of Pomfret. There was a lot of architectural detail and money put into it. The architect, Henry M. Francis, used red slate on the roof, terra cotta ridge tiles, red brick, and uncoursed stone. It all works.

Roann Covered Bridge, Roann, Indiana, 1877

Photo posted on Instagram by Anne Shaw (@anne__archie) on April 10, 2021

WHY THIS PLACE? I love covered bridges. I’m from a part of Indiana that has a large concentration of them. [People here] take a lot of pride in them; there is actually a Covered Bridge Festival every year. School vacations are planned around it—it’s huge. And when I was reading about the Roann Covered Bridge, I learned that they have their own Roann Covered Bridge festival in the fall.

The bridge is on the Eel River. It has a system of steel tension rods with turnbuckles, which you can barely see in the photo. When I was there taking the picture, I thought those must have been added later. But apparently they are original to the bridge, which was built in 1877. That seems unique, to me—I’ve never seen one like that.

In 1990 there was an arson fire that burned half the bridge. It sounds like the town of Roann really came through to restore it. If any covered bridge in Indiana has something happen to it, there’s always an effort to bring it back.

The Roann Covered Bridge in Roann, Indiana.

photo by: Anne Shaw

The interior of the Second Baptist Church in St. Louis.

photo by: Paul Hohmann

Second Baptist Church, St. Louis, 1907

Photo posted on Instagram by Paul Hohmann (@vanishingstl) on October 20, 2021

WHY THIS PLACE? I took this photo on a tour of Second Baptist Church given by the Landmarks Association of St. Louis. It’s part of the Holy Corners Historic District, which has a half dozen or so historic religious structures within about three blocks. Most are on corners.

The church was designed by Mauran, Russell & Garden and built in 1907. To be honest, [considering] the amount of time it’s been vacant, I was expecting it to be in worse condition than it is. Another thing that struck me was the number of stained-glass windows that are fully intact. The rose window is the fanciest one.

A group is apparently going to turn it into a gospel music hall of fame, which is really cool. There was a fire at the building a few days after the tour. Fortunately, firefighters were able to respond in a timely manner and it was contained to the tower. The developers have said they’re going to move forward.

The El Camino Motor Hotel sign in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

photo by: Tim Anderson

El Camino Motor Hotel Sign, 1950s

Posted on Instagram by Tim Anderson (@dv_over_dt) on November 16, 2021

WHY THIS PLACE? The first time I spotted [the El Camino Motor Hotel sign in Los Ranchos de Albuquerque, New Mexico] was in one of my Route 66 books. I finally got up there in 2018. It was on borrowed time; so many signs like this have been disappearing. The only reason the sign was still up is that the hotel’s owners value their property and the heritage of the sign.

When I was there, it was dark out, and the sidewalks were basically nonexistent. It felt like you were taking your life in your own hands even crossing the road.

I went back in November of 2021. The neighborhood has been completely revitalized. [The Village of Los Ranchos de Albuquerque] put in new sidewalks; they redesigned the road; they put in traffic controls. And they did it without bulldozing all of the old businesses. It still has that vintage feel, but they brought it up to 2021 safety standards. I think of Route 66 as a sort of living museum, and because it is living, it does change all the time.

The Old Market District in Omaha, Nebraska

photo by: Joshua Biggs

Old Market Historic District, Omaha, Nebraska, circa 1880–1915

Posted on Instagram by Joshua Biggs (@joshua__biggs) on April 23, 2022

WHY THIS PLACE? I grew up in Nebraska. When I go back, I love to take photos, walk around, and explore. I like how rich and varied [Omaha’s built environment] is. In terms of our country’s history, Omaha is a relatively young city. But there’s a lot of different architecture—high styles, more vernacular styles. There’s a lot of great historic multifamily housing, commercial buildings, homes, churches. Growing up in the area, [Omaha] just became my architectural playground.

[I took this photo in] a historic district called the Old Market, which is a well-known district in downtown Omaha. The three buildings caught my eye because they’re of a similar scale, but they’re all different. I like that they have similarities in how they were built, but also that they’re varied in the way they were designed. They’re just very well-preserved buildings, and I wanted to capture that moment. As I’ve walked by many times over the years, I’ve been inspired by them.

Final Frame celebrates historic places that are meaningful to you. If you would like a photograph of yours considered for publication, use the hashtags #SavingPlaces or #TellTheFullStory when posting on social media.

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.

Tim O'Donnell is a former assistant editor at Preservation magazine. He spends most of his time reading about modern European history and hoping the Baltimore Orioles will turn their fortunes around. A Maryland native, he now lives in Brooklyn.

Announcing the 2024 list of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

See the List