National Preservation Conference

Protecting Daufuskie’s Gullah Houses

Posted on: August 27th, 2014 by Special Contributor 1 Comment

 

By Mike E. Bedenbaugh 

Frances Jones House Before | Credit: The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation

Frances Jones House before restoration. | Credit: The Palmetto Trust for Historic Preservation

Daufuskie Island is an isolated barrier island just south of Beaufort, South Carolina, and north of Savannah. It has a rich history associated with the Gullah, descendants of enslaved Africans who live on the barrier Islands of South Carolina and Georgia. Following the Civil War, the island was home to the newly freed slaves and became a destination for other freedmen to take advantage of the developing oyster industry. By the 1920s, the island boasted a population of well over 1,500 persons who made a living off of the oyster industry, farming and fishing. Due to the island’s isolation, the Gullah culture and language remained very strong and prominent well into the mid-20th century.

In the 1950s, however, the oyster beds collapsed because of pollution in the nearby Savannah River from numerous wood pulp mills up river, and many families left for better opportunities in nearby Savannah. In the 1980s, development arrived on the island in the form of several private gated communities, leaving less than a third of the island still owned by the original Gullah families.... Read More →

preservationCRISIS: A Climate Change Reading List

Posted on: August 26th, 2014 by Preservation Leadership Forum Staff 1 Comment

 

PastForward_LOGO_RGBThe effects of climate change on our cultural heritage will be – if they aren’t already – a very real crisis.

Therefore, one of the four tracks at the PastForward conference in Savannah this fall, titled “preservationCRISIS,” will focus on climate change. Presenters at the Learning Labs and the Power Sessions will discuss indirect and direct threats of climate change on our cultural heritage; share case studies about communities that are already dealing with the impacts of climate change; and outline policies and strategies for adapting to climate change in order to sustain and build resilient cities. The Trust Live on Friday, November 14, will present a global perspective on the impact of climate change to places that matter to us. In addition, the National Park Service (NPS), which is sponsoring Friday’s event, will present its climate change planning framework, and representatives from the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) will discuss how rising sea levels, extreme drought, and severe storms have already put some of our cultural resources at risk. In addition, a Preservation Leadership Training full day workshop, "Planning for Change:  Disaster Preparedness for Preservation", which is being presented in partnership with the NPS, will take place on Wednesday, November 13.

Just as with preservationVENTURE, we are offering a preservationCRISIS reading list before you come to Savannah:

Mark Huppert’s post, “In Deep Water: Three Ways to Save Historic Places from Climate Threats,” offers three important strategies on to how to prevent the loss of historic resources that may be affected by climate change. ... Read More →

 

By Steve Hartley

Students pour metal for the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building exterior restoration. | Credit: Savannah Technical College

Students pour metal for the Smithsonian Arts and Industries building exterior restoration. | Credit: Savannah Technical College

“We should be able to find someone who can restore that leaded glass...or plaster ceiling...or crumbling brick chimney.”

This is a common lament around preservation projects, as building owners struggle to find craftspeople who know how to work with historic materials. While the appreciation for traditional architecture increases, the supply of artisans trained in the techniques that people venerate continues to diminish. This disappearance of traditional craft practitioners is one of the greatest threats to our historic places. As these older practitioners leave the workforce, fewer young people are replacing them in the field.

The lack of qualified craft practitioners has been noted as far back as 1967  in the Whitehill Report. Commissioned by the National Trust, the report noted “These ancient crafts are a significant part of our national cultural resources. Their continuation as a living tradition is essential to insure the authentic conservation of our early buildings.” Some 50 years later, little has been done to address the problems noted within the report. Organizations such as the Preservation Trades Network, the Association for Preservation Technology as well as specialized groups such as the Timber Framers Guild and American Glass Guild have promoted traditional craft skills within the field, however, opportunities for formal education in preservation crafts in the United States are still limited.... Read More →