By Sara K. Hayden

2010 14th Street, SE | Credit: L'Enfant Trust

This 1912 two-story cottage at 2010 14th Street, SE, in Washington, D.C. is the first project of The L'Enfant Trust's Historic Properties Redevelopment program.| Credit: L'Enfant Trust

A few months ago, on a beautiful July morning in Historic Anacostia in Washington, D.C., The L’Enfant Trust joined with neighbors, community leaders, sponsors and preservationists to celebrate the completed rehabilitation of the Trust’s first Historic Properties Redevelopment (HPR) program project. The crowd gathered at 2010 14th Street, SE, to cheer the ribbon-cutting of the fully rehabilitated 1912 cottage-style, wood-frame home that just a year ago was a severely deteriorated, vacant structure used for criminal activities. Speakers at the ceremony included The 1772 Foundation executive director, Mary Anthony; DC state historic preservation officer, David Maloney; DC council member Vincent Orange; and community leaders Charles Wilson and Greta Fuller. New owners have now moved into the house at 14th Street. The Trust will hold a conservation easement in perpetuity to ensure protection of its exterior. This sale also includes a covenant that the home will remain owner-occupied for the first two years.  ... Read More →

Protecting Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch

Posted on: October 28th, 2014 by Jenny Buddenborg 1 Comment


Teddy Roosevelt on a Horse near Medora in 1885. | Credit: Harvard Collection

Theodore Roosevelt at Medora, North Dakota, in 1885. | Credit: Harvard Collection

When the National Trust embarked on its efforts to protect Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch more than two years ago by naming it one of America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places and a National Treasure, we thought we would be participating in a run-of-the-mill National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA) process to help identify an appropriate location for the proposed Little Missouri River Crossing (a proposal that could include a bridge or low-water river crossing) outside of the viewshed of the Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. As we looked more closely into the issue we quickly learned that the crossing was an indication of a much more insidious threat of minerals development that threatened to irreparably mar the serene, nationally significant landscape.

Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch is located in the fantastically rugged and magnificent North Dakota Badlands. It is a striking landscape that spoke to Roosevelt in the 1880s when he first visited on a hunt. He would return to build his Elkhorn Ranch and use the place to seek solace and repair following the deaths of his mother and first wife Alice. While the ranch buildings are no longer extant, the immediate surrounding landscape remains much the same as it was during Roosevelt’s time. The core of it is the Elkhorn Ranch Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park, 218 acres surrounded by National Grasslands (managed by the U.S. Forest Service), state lands, and private lands. This larger area of less than 5,000 acres has been designated Theodore Roosevelt’s Elkhorn Ranch National Historic District and is the landscape the National Trust is committed to protecting.

Widely respected as one of the greatest conservation presidents in our nation’s history, Roosevelt once said, “I never would have been President if it had not been for my experience in North Dakota.” Throughout his eight years in office as the 26th president, he protected roughly 230 million acres of public lands. It was Roosevelt who signed the Antiquities Act of 1906 into law, establishing an administrative power to protect public lands of great cultural and environmental significance as National Monuments. How ironic, then, that more than a century later, the very place that rooted Roosevelt in his conservation ideals is now threatened by one of the largest oil and gas booms in our country’s history.

Oil and Gas Extraction in the Badlands

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by Michael R. Allen

In the weeks leading up to PastForward, the 2014 National Preservation Conference, we've asked thought leaders to set the stage for this year's four tracks. In this post, Michael Allen, the director of the Preservation Research Office, addresses rightsizing, legacy cities, and real estate tools - topics that will be discussed during learning labs at the conference track titled preservationVENTURE.  Michael will be a responder at the Thursday TrustLive. For more information on PastForward visit For more on preservationVENTURE check out the reading list.


A city-owned row of flats on North Market Street in St. Louis' St. Louis Place neighborhood, outside of historic district boundaries. | Credit: Michael R. Allen/Preservation Research Office

Today, as historic preservationists delve into the realities of older American cities that have faced population and building loss, we find ourselves reaching—and transcending—our field’s own limits. Nowhere is this more evident than in our engagement with the methodology of “rightsizing,” which has found preservation advocates making the case for embracing some demolition. The converse of this bold new look at urban preservation means developing serious conservation strategies for vernacular building stock that might not come in the tidiest, architectural history textbook–friendly form. If we embrace demolition to save cities, we can’t neglect the preservation work needed for what remains.

That’s where our left hand smacks into our right. The National Register of Historic Places, the backbone of American preservation practice for nearly 50 years, looks more like an impediment than a helpmate for the new era of legacy city preservation. In some cases, it actually makes preservation of places important to people more difficult.

The major problem for legacy cities is that National Register listing is predicated on a building or district’s “integrity,” a status based on having a majority of seven aspects based on historic appearance. For a city like Boston or Savannah, finding districts that look as they did in an earlier time is a lot easier than finding the same in East St. Louis or Detroit. Fractured neighborhoods don’t stand a chance of becoming historic districts, no matter how hard communities push. The National Register privileges appearance over community will, public commemoration and economic value.... Read More →