Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Update on dining hall rehabilitation at Steele Indian School Park

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On February 26, 2007, HP Office staff met with representatives from the Engineering, Architectural Services Department, Parks Department, and the contractor and architect on the Dining Hall rehabilitation project to discuss the 85 percent plans received by Swann Architects for the HP bond funded exterior rehabilitation project at Dining Hall, and the process and timing for obtaining hard bids for this scope. The project will complete the exterior restoration of the historic building, but will not complete interior rehabilitation work needed. It was determined at the meeting that the “project team” would have bi-weekly progress meetings and that City Council action to allocate the funding would occur in May or June 2007, prior to the end of the Fiscal Year. This project has $1.683 million of historic preservation bond funding in the first year of the 2006 bond program.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Arizona State Parks Present 2007 Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month Celebration

For the entire month of March 2007, the Arizona State Park's State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) is coordinating activities throughout the state for its annual celebration of Arizona Archaeology and Heritage Awareness Month. These events will focus on current efforts to preserve our past by protecting our fragile and non-renewable cultural resources. Museums, historical societies, tribes, agencies, parks, and archaeology organizations will be hosting events across the state; many of the events are planned in Arizona State Parks as part of their interpretive programs.

Proclaimed by the Governor each year, this celebration will feature over 60 prehistoric and historic site tours, exhibits, hikes, open houses, lectures, demonstrations and other activities throughout Arizona. A free statewide listing of events is available now by contacting the Arizona State Parks offices at (602) 542-4174, or by visiting the ASP website and downloading the document.

The featured event for the month is the ARIZONA ARCHAEOLOGY EXPO. The Expo will offer many educational attractions for archaeology and history buffs and will be held at Yuma Crossing State Historic Park, Yuma, on March 16 and 17, 2007. Both days are open to the public and the event is FREE. The Expo provides a special opportunity for visitors to learn more about why it is important to preserve archaeological sites and historic places, what archaeologists, historians, and tribal members do in their jobs, and about the prehistory and history of Arizona. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Monday, February 26, 2007

Plan centers on Hayden Flour Mill in Tempe

[Source: Garin Groff, East Valley Tribune] -- The Hayden Flour Mill stood as one of Tempe’s most visible buildings for more than a century even as its thick concrete walls masked its inner workings from public view. But the elaborate milling equipment that turned grain into flour will be on display in a glass structure next to the mill as part of a plan to restore and redevelop the site. The proposal includes adding three stories of glass floors on top of the mill and new buildings for shops and restaurants. But most building space will be the new headquarters for the developer, Avenue Communities. That’s the same company behind the 30-story Centerpoint Condominiums a few blocks away.

Avenue is moving to buy the site from Tempe, which took ownership after another developer’s plan fizzled and the city received the property in the midst of an extended lawsuit. City and business leaders are hopeful the developer will finally bring life to the mill since its 1998 closure. “They’ve done everything that the city has asked them to do and they’re doing it in a very high-quality way,” said Chris Salomone, Tempe’s community development manager. Avenue will present its plans to the City Council Thursday. The company plans to demolish half-century old additions so the 1918 structure will stand as it did originally. Also, Avenue will build a trailhead to Hayden Butte, add parking and buildings along the street to give the area a more urban feel.

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Leigh Shelle Robertus.]

Gila Cliff Dwellings Announces Start Of Centennial Events

[Source: Sonya Berger, NPS] -- Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument Superintendent Steve Riley announced today an April kick-off of centennial celebrations. On November 16, 1907, Teddy Roosevelt signed the proclamation that forever recognized the "group of cliff-dwellings known as the Gila Hot Springs Cliff-Houses" as a national monument being "of exceptional scientific and educational interest as the best representative of the Cliff-Dwellers' remains of that region." Throughout 2007, Gila Cliff Dwellings' theme Celebrating a Century of Storytelling will guide the special events and programs at the monument, leading up to the actual 100th anniversary on November 16, 2007.

The year 2007 not only marks the 100th anniversary of the establishment Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument, it also marks the 45th anniversary of an important addition to the original monument's boundaries. On April 17, 1962, President John F. Kennedy signed a proclamation that added approximately 375 acres containing additional archaeological sites "to round out the interpretive story of the Gila Cliff Dwellings National Monument." As a special centennial event, one of these added sites -- an unexcavated surface pueblo referred to as the TJ Ruin -- will be open for a limited number of guided tours in April. Tours meet at the Gila Visitor Center at 2pm every Tuesday and Saturday, and every day during National Park Week, April 22nd - 29th. There will be no TJ tour on Saturday, April 28th. Group size is limited to 20 people per tour and reservations are recommended. For more information and to make a tour reservation call 505-536-9461. Guided tours of the dwellings will continue to be held daily at noon.

One Hot Archaeological Find

[Source: David Brown, Washington Post] -- Inhabitants of the New World had chili peppers and the makings of taco chips 6,100 years ago, according to new research that examined the bowl-scrapings of people sprinkled throughout Central America and the Amazon basin. Upcoming questions on the research agenda -- and this is not a joke -- include: Did they have salsa? When did they get beer? The discovery makes the chili pepper the oldest spice in the Americas -- and one of the oldest in the world. The findings described today in a 15-author report in the journal Science make the chili pepper the oldest spice in use in the Americas, and one of the oldest in the world.

The researchers believe further study may show that the fiery pod was used 1,000 years earlier than their current oldest specimen, as it shows evidence of having been domesticated, a process that would have taken time. If so, that would put chili peppers in the same league (although probably not the same millennium) as hoarier spices such as coriander, capers and fenugreek. The chili pepper, however, makes up for its junior status with rapid spread and wild popularity. Within decades of European contact, the New World plant was carried across Europe and into Africa and Asia, adopted widely, and further altered through selective breeding. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Indigenous punks carve out space in Mexico City

[Source: Jeremy Schwartz] -- On Sunday afternoons, Mexico's version of Central Park hosts an army of punks, goths and roller skaters, a riot of lip rings, fishnet stockings, studded belts and red hair spiked at impossible angles. But there is more to this tableau of extreme urbanism than meets the eye. With punk and goth styles, indigenous teenage migrants 'are saying all they can't say with words: 'I'm urban and I'm a part of this city. This city is not going to crush me,' ' photojournalist Federico Gama says. Mexico City photojournalist Frederico Gama, who spent two years tracking counterculture trends among indigenous migrant teens such as this young man, says the current wave is characterized by its defiance.

Many of the teenagers in the Alameda, on the edge of Mexico City's historic district, are indigenous peoples, just weeks or months removed from rural pueblos. They are part of a massive movement of minority indigenous Mexicans from the countryside into Mexico City, an unspoken migration within the country's borders that is transforming centuries-old living patterns. For many of these youths from ethnic and Indian groups that predate the Spanish conquistadors, the adoption of hyper-urban styles of dress is a survival strategy. "They face so much discrimination when they come to the city; that's why they transform themselves," said Pedro Gonzalez, a 38-year-old university student and migrant advocate who left Oaxaca for Mexico City when he was 16. "They are looking for a type of identity, because they say, 'Just by myself, I'm going to die.' "

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Federico Gama.]

Two preserves in Gilbert land bird honor

[Source: Beth Lucas, Tribune] -- The long-billed dowitcher travels 6,400 miles every winter from the northern shores of Alaska to Gilbert’s Riparian Preserve at Water Ranch (pictured). The migratory bird is one of the many shore birds that have earned the town’s two riparian preserves the national designation of “Important Bird Area” by the Audubon Society’s science committee. Bob Witzeman, conservation chairman for the Maricopa Audubon Society, said the success of the Gilbert preserve parks is because of the town’s decision to create a preserve using recycled water, and funds from the Heritage Fund used to provide lush, attractive plants.

“It’s the perfect wintering place,” he said. “This is an important kudos to the East Valley.” Led by Cynthia Donald, the Maricopa Audubon Society spent two years studying Gilbert’s Water Ranch preserve at Greenfield and Guadalupe roads, as well as the Riparian Preserve at Neely Ranch at Guadalupe and Cooper roads. The two preserves are among about 30 important bird areas in Arizona. Gilbert park ranger Scott Cleaves said the Water Ranch facility has seen a doubling in visitors in the last year. The Neely Ranch facility is closed to the public, but has a bird-viewing area. “It’s important to have a safe haven for these birds,” Cleaves said. “They’re running out of areas as they lose their natural habitat.”

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Bob Glen.]

Meeting to Plan Hispanic Survey Event

Historic Preservation (HP) Office staff met with representatives from Wells Fargo, LULAC, and Chicano Por La Causa to discuss planning an event or series of events celebrating the completion of the City’s Hispanic Heritage Study in late 2006. The group recommended a kick-off event during Hispanic Heritage Month in mid-late September 2007 which may include a celebration in the lobby of City Hall, followed by a possible unveiling of an exhibit at Wells Fargo Bank. The exhibit may then travel to several elementary schools over the following year. Subsequent planning meetings for the event(s) are scheduled bi-weekly for the next few months.

Nonprofit creates streaming history website

New Archaeology Channel Video Explores The Archaeology of a Confederate Family in West Virginia: Many will be surprised to learn that Southern plantation life in the first half of the 19th Century extended to the south bank of the Ohio River. This little-known chapter of American history is the subject of Ghosts of Green Bottom, the latest video feature on the nonprofit streaming-media Web site, The Archaeology Channel.

The mysterious case of Columbus's silver ore

Silver-bearing ore found at the settlement founded by Christopher Columbus's second expedition was not mined in the Americas, new research reveals. The ore that researchers excavated from the settlement, La Isabela, came from Spain, said Alyson Thibodeau, who analyzed the ores. "What appeared to be the earliest evidence of European finds of precious metals in the New World turned out not to be that at all," said David J. Killick. "It's a very different story." The explorers brought the Spanish ore to La Isabela to use for comparison when assaying the new ores they expected to find, the researchers surmise. The expedition's purpose was discovering precious metals.

But by 1497, La Isabela's remaining settlers, having found no gold or silver, were desperate to salvage something of value from the failed settlement. They were reduced to extracting silver from the galena they brought from Spain, the researchers said. "This part of the story of Columbus's failed settlement is one that couldn't be found in the historical documents," said Thibodeau, a geosciences graduate student at The University of Arizona in Tucson. "We could never have figured this out without applying the techniques of physical sciences to the archaeological artifacts."

La Isabela, the first European town in the New World, was established by Columbus's second expedition in 1494 on the northern coast of the present Dominican Republic. The approximately 1500 members of the expedition expected to make their fortunes by finding precious metals but instead found hurricanes, hunger and disease. Columbus was recalled to Spain in 1496, and the few hundred remaining inhabitants abandoned the town in 1498. Archaeologists excavating the site in the late 1980s and early 1990s found about 100 pounds of galena, a silver-bearing lead ore, and more than 200 pounds of metallurgical slag. The ore and slag were associated with a small furnace near the alhóndiga, a building for the storage and protection of royal property. Archaeologist Deagan sent pieces of the material to archaeometallurgist Killick for analysis. The slag turned out to be lead silicate -- the end product of an improvised smelting process, Killick said, adding "Lead silicate is good for nothing." [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, February 22, 2007

This day in history

February 21, 1965: Malcolm X assassinated. In New York City, Malcolm X, an African American nationalist and religious leader, is assassinated by rival Black Muslims while addressing his Organization of Afro-American Unity at the Audubon Ballroom in Washington Heights. Born Malcolm Little in Omaha, Nebraska, in 1925, Malcolm was the son of James Earl Little, a Baptist preacher who advocated the black nationalist ideals of Marcus Garvey. Threats from the Ku Klux Klan forced the family to move to Lansing, Michigan, where his father continued to preach his controversial sermons despite continuing threats. In 1931, Malcolm's father was brutally murdered by the white supremacist Black Legion, and Michigan authorities refused to prosecute those responsible.

In 1937, Malcolm was taken from his family by welfare caseworkers. By the time he reached high school age, he had dropped out of school and moved to Boston, where he became increasingly involved in criminal activities. In 1946, at the age of 21, Malcolm was sent to prison on a burglary conviction. It was there he encountered the teachings of Elijah Muhammad, the leader of the Nation of Islam, whose members are popularly known as Black Muslims. The Nation of Islam advocated black nationalism and racial separatism and condemned Americans of European descent as immoral "devils." Muhammad's teachings had a strong effect on Malcolm, who entered into an intense program of self-education and took the last name "X" to symbolize his stolen African identity.

After six years, Malcolm was released from prison and became a loyal and effective minister of the Nation of Islam in Harlem, New York. In contrast with civil rights leaders such as Martin Luther King Jr., Malcolm X advocated self-defense and the liberation of African Americans "by any means necessary." A fiery orator, Malcolm was admired by the African American community in New York and around the country. In the early 1960s, he began to develop a more outspoken philosophy than that of Elijah Muhammad, whom he felt did not sufficiently support the civil rights movement. In late 1963, Malcolm's suggestion that President John F. Kennedy's assassination was a matter of the "chickens coming home to roost" provided Elijah Muhammad, who believed
that Malcolm had become too powerful, with a convenient opportunity to suspend him from the Nation of Islam.

A few months later, Malcolm formally left the organization and made a Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, where he was profoundly affected by the lack of racial discord among orthodox Muslims. He returned to America as El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz and in June 1964 founded the Organization of Afro-American Unity, which advocated black identity and held that racism, not the white race, was the greatest foe of the African American. Malcolm's new movement steadily gained followers, and his more moderate philosophy became increasingly influential in the civil rights movement, especially among the leaders of the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee. On February 21, 1965, one week after his home was firebombed, Malcolm X was shot to death by Nation of Islam members while speaking at a rally of his organization in New York City.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

McMansions on the rise

[Source: Jim McPherson, Arizona Central] -- Driving to events at the Arizona Biltmore or to the adjacent golf course for an occasional round of 18, I'd notice that houses along the drive would be put up for sale one-by-one, surrounded by chain link fence, demolished, and replaced with a much bigger, taller, and often gaudier house that engulfed the entire property. They’re called “teardowns” or “McMansions.” Arcadia and Paradise Valley residents have expressed concern about the phenomenon too. And the National Trust for Historic Preservation sees it happening nationwide.

The Trust has put together a resource guide to show how various communities have worked to put in place and adopt tools to manage teardowns and retain the character of neighborhoods that are designated as historic or simply going through significant change. Does this issue concern you or your neighbors (who appreciate your neighborhood's existing character or miss your views blocked by a new structure)? Click here for some resources (in PDF format):

~ Graphic illustrations to help make the case for how teardowns impact older neighborhoods.
~ Terminology of the growing teardown trend.
~ Step-by-step guide and advice for advocating for alternatives, mounting a successful campaign, and strategies for managing teardowns.

And you're welcome to share your teardown story with the Trust and your local preservation group.

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Researchers unearth 4,300-year-old chimpanzee technology

[Source: Gregory Harris, University of Calgary] -- A University of Calgary archaeologist has found the first prehistoric evidence of chimpanzee technology, adding credence to the theory that some of humanity's behavioural hallmarks were actually inherited by both humans and great apes from a common ancestor. Dr. Julio Mercader, one of the few archaeologists in the world who studies the material culture of great apes, especially chimpanzees, uncovered stone 'hammers' last year in the Taï rainforest of Africa's Côte D'Ivoire (Ivory Coast) that date back 4,300 years. Mercader and co-investigators from Germany, UK, the U.S. and Canada report on the findings in the latest edition of PNAS, the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. PNAS is in the top echelon of academic journals internationally.

"It's not clear whether we hominins invented this kind of stone technology, or whether both humans and the great apes inherited it from a common forebear," says Mercader, also a Canada Research Chair in Tropical Archaeology. "There weren't any farmers living in this region 4,300 years ago, so it is unlikely that chimpanzees picked it up by imitating villagers, like some scientists used to claim." The stone hammers that the team discovered, essentially irregularly shaped rocks about the size of cantaloupes -- with distinctive patterns of wear -- were used to crack the shells of nuts. The research demonstrates conclusively that the artifacts couldn't have been the result of natural erosion or used by humans. The stones are too large for humans to use easily and they also have the starch residue from several nuts known to be staples in the chimpanzee diet, but not the human diet.

Using so-called "percussive technology" to free the edible parts of nuts is more complicated than it sounds. "We know that modern chimpanzee behaviour regarding nut-cracking is socially transmitted and takes up to seven years to learn," Mercader says. "Some of the nuts require a compression force of more than a thousand kilograms to crack. And the idea is to crack the shell but not smash it -- it's not a simple technique." The discovery suggests that a 'chimpanzee stone age' reaches well back to ancient times. "Chimpanzee material culture has a long prehistory whose deep roots are only beginning to be uncovered," the authors write. Although it's difficult to prove whether the technology was adopted through imitation, another possibility is convergence -- that is, both humans and great apes arrived at the technique independently.

To arrange an interview with Dr. Julio Mercader, contact his office at (403) 220-4856 / 210 8849; cell 681 7061; or email For more information, or to obtain a copy of the paper, contact Greg Harris, U of C Media Relations, at (403) 220-3506, cell (403) 540-7306 or email [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

"Body worlds 3" reacquainting us with our bodies

[Source: Katy Gill] -- Thought you were familiar with your body? Think again. The Arizona Science Center has recently opened its new exhibit, Gunther von Hagen's BODY WORLDS 3: The Anatomical Exhibition of Real Human Bodies, which features over 200 human specimens. Although this exhibit is one of a rather uncommon nature, it is a unique and educational experience which allows visitors to explore the anatomy and functions of the human body in a way no text book could offer. Visitors can explore the inner workings of the body and physically see the effects of disease and lifestyle choices.

Several whole bodies are featured in the exhibit, positioned in ways we see people every day, enabling visitors to become familiar with the muscles that allow us to jump, or the bones that keep us standing, all preserved through a patented process called plastination. Plastination puts a stop on the deterioration that occurs after death and replaces bodily fluids with soluble fats and reactive polymers through vacuum forced impregnation. The bodies are then posed and harden after curing with gas, heat or light. Grossed out yet? Specimens, collected from generous donors, are posed in order for visitors to view countless physiological features and relate them to his or her own body. If you thought your hair color and the bump in your nose are what made up your individuality, see the human body from a different perspective, from within.

The exhibit is open daily from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at The Arizona Science Center, located on the Northwest corner of Washington and 7th Streets in Heritage and Science Park. Tickets for BODY WORLDS 3 are available for purchase either by phone or web and cost between $16 and $22 for non-members and $18.50 for college students. After hours rates apply after 5 p.m. For more information or to make an online purchase, click here and go to the exhibition link.

Monday, February 19, 2007

Petroglyph sites named to national historic register

Twelve petroglyph sites in southern New Mexico have been named to the National Register of Historic Places. The New Mexico Historic Preservation Division says that gives the sites the highest level of national significance. The sites are part of the Summerford Mountain Archaeological District in the Dona Ana Mountains. The district covers more than 21-hundred acres owned by the Chihuahuan Desert Rangeland Research Center at New Mexico State University. It's not open to the public, nor has it ever been subject to excavations or looting. Archaeologists say the petroglyphs at the 12 sites include variety and are different from those found in northern New Mexico.

Friday, February 16, 2007

This day in history

February 16, 1923: Archaeologist opens tomb of King Tut. On this day in 1923, in Thebes, Egypt, English archaeologist Howard Carter enters the sealed burial chamber of the ancient Egyptian ruler King Tutankhamen. Because the ancient Egyptians saw their pharaohs as gods, they carefully preserved their bodies after death, burying them in elaborate tombs containing rich treasures to accompany the rulers into the afterlife. In the 19th century, archeologists from all over the world flocked to Egypt, where they uncovered a number of these tombs. Many had long ago been broken into by robbers and stripped of their riches.

When Carter arrived in Egypt in 1891, he became convinced there was at least one undiscovered tomb--that of the little known Tutankhamen, or King Tut, who lived around 1400 B.C. and died when he was still a teenager. Backed by a rich Brit, Lord Carnarvon, Carter searched for five years without success. In early 1922, Lord Carnarvon wanted to call off the search, but Carter convinced him to hold on one more year.

In November 1922, the wait paid off, when Carter's team found steps hidden in the debris near the entrance of another tomb. The steps led to an ancient sealed doorway bearing the name Tutankhamen. When Carter and Lord Carnarvon entered the tomb's interior chambers on November 26, they were thrilled to find it virtually intact, with its treasures untouched after more than 3,000 years. The men began exploring the four rooms of the tomb, and on February 16, 1923, under the watchful eyes of a number of important officials, Carter opened the door to the last chamber.

Inside lay a sarcophagus with three coffins nested inside one another. The last coffin, made of solid gold, contained the mummified body of King Tut. Among the riches found in the tomb--golden shrines, jewelry, statues, a chariot, weapons, clothing--the perfectly preserved mummy was the most valuable, as it was the first one ever to be discovered. Despite rumors that a curse would befall anyone who disturbed the tomb, its treasures were carefully catalogued, removed and included in a famous traveling exhibition called the "Treasures of Tutankhamen." The exhibition's permanent home is the Egyptian Museum in Cairo.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Historic building bites the dust

[Source: Jonathan Cooper, ASU Web Devil] -- The iconic gold-domed roof of the former Visitor Information Center is still intact, but the building it once covered is little more than dust. A crane removed the roof Saturday, placing it on the ground several dozen feet from its home of nearly 50 years. Community activists lamented the building's destruction Monday, saying ASU administrators are destroying their city's character. "They've just basically proven that they can't be trusted as stewards of Arizona's history," said Vincent Murray, president of the Arizona Preservation Foundation. "Maybe their own, but nobody else's." University officials have said the building couldn't be incorporated into necessary University growth, which includes new student housing and faculty offices for Barrett, the Honors College.

"We found it would have too much impact on the outdoor space and number of units for the present and future needs of the Barrett Honors College," said Leah Hardesty, an ASU spokeswoman. The building was built in 1962 on the northwest corner of Apache Boulevard and Rural Road as a Valley National Bank. As Tempe grew southward, the bank lent money to build many of the new homes, and older Tempeans have developed a bond with the building and its specific location, Murray said. "A lot of people say the only thing historic about it was the dome," Murray said. "That's not the case at all. The building itself represented a different time and place." ASU officials tried to appease critics' concerns with a proposal to salvage the gold roof and allow architecture and design students to develop an alternative use on the Tempe campus. But opponents haven't warmed to the idea.

"That's like taking the front porch off of Old Main and making it a hot dog stand down the street," Murray said. "Would you consider that preservation?" Tempe resident Maria Bahr hasn't been able to drive by the corner where the building once stood. "It makes me too sad," she said. "They're destroying the essence of downtown Tempe and the community that used to be here." ASU has been working with the State Historic Preservation Office to preserve as much of the building as possible, Hardesty said. A preservation office official did not return a call for comment Monday. "We do recognize the public perception and the importance of the dome, which is why we are keeping it on the Tempe campus," Hardesty said. Specific plans for the new honors college are still subject to Arizona Board of Regents approval, but it is expected to open in 2009, Hardesty said. [Photo source: Matthew, Modern Phoenix].

Commercial rehabilitation tax credit bills introduced in House and Senate

On February 14, legislation proposing to improve the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit was introduced in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. Representative Stephanie Tubbs Jones (D-OH) introduced the House bill (H.R.1043) with Representative Phil English (R-PA) as the minority party lead. Senator Blanche Lincoln (D-AR) introduced the Senate bill with Senator Gordon Smith (R-OR) as the minority party lead. The bills are a set of amendments to the FRTC based on insights from those who have used the credit. Provisions within the bills will:

1. Improve the coupling of the Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) and the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit (FRTC).

2. Reduce the basis reduction required for a property using the FRTC.

3. Increase the FRTC for smaller projects. The tax credit would be increased from 20% to 40% on the first $1,000,000 of qualified expenditures for projects under $2,000,000. This would be a huge gain for Main Street-type projects.

4. Allow rental housing in "qualified rehabilitated buildings." Currently, the 10% credit for "non-historic" buildings cannot be used for dwellings -- the law would be amended to allow the credit's use for residential rental property.

5. Change the qualifying date for non-historic rehabilitation projects (10% credit projects) from "placed in service before 1936" to placed in service "no less than 50 years prior to the year in which qualified rehabilitation expenditures are taken into account."

6. Fine tune the leasing rules laid out in the current FRTC to reduce the number of community-oriented projects currently adversely impacted without weakening the anti-abuse function designed into the current law. The types of leasing arrangements allowed in the current tax credit program limit community revitalization-oriented projects.

7. Increase the FRTC in "high cost areas" to 130% of qualified rehabilitation expenditures. High cost areas are difficult to develop and officially recognized by the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). A difficult to develop area (DDA) has high construction and land costs relative to the average local income (Area Median Gross Income or AMGI). Incomes and housing costs are compared in HUD's formula. The 130% increase would also apply to Qualified Census Tracts (QCTs), that is, any census tract in which at least 50% of households have an income less than 60% of the area median or where the poverty rate is at least 25%.

8. Removes a provision within the current law that prevents condominium developments in FRTC projects. The current law requires a developer pay back their credit if the property is sold within five years of a given project's completion.

The Community Restoration and Revitalization Act was first introduced by Representatives Rob Portman (R-OH) and William Jefferson (D-LA) in late 2004. It was reintroduced by Representatives English and Jefferson in 2005.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

This day in history

February 14, 1929: St. Valentine's Day Massacre. In Chicago, gunmen in the suspected employment of organized-crime boss Al Capone murder seven members of the George "Bugs" Moran North Siders gang in a garage on North Clark Street. The so-called St. Valentine's Day Massacre stirred a media storm centered on Capone and his illegal Prohibition-era activities and motivated federal authorities to redouble their efforts to find evidence incriminating enough to take him off the streets.

Alphonse Capone was born in Brooklyn in 1899, the son of Italian immigrants from Naples. The fourth of nine children, he quit school after the sixth grade and joined a street gang. He became acquainted with Johnny Torrio, a crime boss who operated in Chicago and New York, and at the age of 18 Capone was employed at a Coney Island club owned by gangster Frankie Yale. It was while working there that his face was slashed in a brawl, earning him the nickname "Scarface." Capone demonstrated considerable business acumen and was appointed manager of a Torrio speakeasy. Later, Torrio put him charge of the suburb of Cicero. Unlike his boss, who was always discreet, Capone achieved notoriety as he fought for control of Cicero and was even tried (unsuccessfully) for murder.

Capone was in Florida in February 1929 when he gave the go-ahead for the assassination of Bugs Moran. On February 13, a bootlegger called Moran and offered to sell him a truckload of high quality whiskey at a low price. Moran took the bait and the next morning pulled up to the delivery location where he was to meet several associates and purchase the whisky. He was running a little late, and just as he was pulling up to the garage he saw what looked like two policemen and two detectives get out of an unmarked car and head to the door. Thinking he had nearly avoided being caught in a police raid, Moran drove off. The four men, however, were Capone's assassins, and they were only entering the building before Moran's arrival because they had mistaken one of the seven men inside for the boss himself.

Wearing their stolen police uniforms and heavily armed, Capone's henchmen surprised Moran's men, who agreed to line up against the wall. Thinking they had fallen prey to a routine police raid, they allowed themselves to be disarmed. A moment later, they were gunned down in a hail of shotgun and submachine-gun fire. Six were killed instantly, and the seventh survived for less than an hour.

2007 National Preservation Awards nomination deadline is March 1

Each year the National Trust celebrates the best of preservation by presenting National Preservation Awards to individuals and organizations whose contributions demonstrate excellence in historic preservation. We invite you to nominate a deserving project, organization, agency, or individual for a National Preservation Award. The deadline for nominations for all awards, including the Trustees awards, ACHP, HUD Awards and National Preservation Honor Awards, is March 1, 2007. Those nominations not selected to receive a Trustees, ACHP or HUD Award are automatically considered for an Honor Award. To download the nomination form from the National Trust’s website click here. If you have questions or need additional information about the awards or the nomination process, please feel free to contact Caroline Healey by email or telephone at 202.588.6236.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

Paving road to Chaco fraught with pitfalls

[Source: Associated Press] -- The road to Chaco Culture National Historic Park in northwest New Mexico can be a bumpy ride, but workers at the park say that's not necessarily a bad thing. San Juan County would like to see the 16-mile dirt road that leads about 60,000 annual visitors to the park paved. Keith Johns, the county's chief executive officer, says the road is rough, dangerous and prime for accidents. Park workers are concerned that improving the road would increase traffic and note the number of visitors is already near capacity. They and others also say paving the road would detract from the overall experience of getting to one of the state's most important historical sites.

"At this point, the park is visited by people who know its significance and who are coming there to seriously experience a very unique archaeological site and a sacred site, as well," said Anson Wright, coordinator of the Chaco Alliance. The group is dedicated to protecting the sites. Wright said paving the road will bring in more recreational vehicle traffic. He said it would also increase the chances of vandalism within the ruins, and increased traffic would create the need for more park rangers. Johns disagrees. The only thing (paving) takes away is a dangerous trip, and I think it's a good thing," said Johns, who noted he had witnessed an accident while driving on the road.

Anyone who values Chaco Canyon and all it contains can support the effort to stop paving the road into the canyon. Information about this and the names and addresses to write to are at [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Historic designation for Grant and Harmon Parks

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- On January 25 Historic Preservation (HP) staff gave a presentation to the Parks and Recreation Board regarding historic designation for Grant and Harmon Parks. Grant Park is located at 701 S. 3rd Avenue; Harmon Park is located at 1425 S. 5th Avenue. Both properties were recommended eligible for historic designation as part of the Hispanic Historic Property Survey, completed in October 2006. The portion of Harmon park north of the Yuma Street alignment would be excluded because the new Harmon Library is slated to be built on this site. The existing library building has been slated for demolition. Following staff’s presentation, the Parks and Recreation Board voted unanimously to support the historic designation. Staff will request that the HP Commission initiate HP zoning for the property on March 19, 2007.

Developers propose an entertainment district to liven up Phoenix

[Source: Ginger D. Richardson and Erica Sagon, Arizona Republic] -- San Diego has the Gaslamp Quarter, Miami has South Beach and Denver has LoDo. Now, a group of private developers wants to create a hip hangout spot in downtown Phoenix, one that rivals or even surpasses those found in some of the nation's greatest cities. The proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District would cut a path across the southern end of downtown, stretching from Central Avenue to Chase Field, and could be anchored by the state's first House of Blues music venue.

The blockbuster proposal is significant because it addresses downtown Phoenix's lack of full-time residents and nightlife, both of which are key to turning the area into a true destination spot. The new district, when complete, could boast comedy clubs, signature restaurants, live-music spots and art galleries, as well as office space, housing units and a hotel. Dale Jensen, part owner of the Phoenix Suns and Arizona Diamondbacks, is one of Jackson Street's backers. He said he and his business partners decided to move forward with the idea after realizing that there was nothing to keep people downtown after a Suns or Diamondbacks game.

"The thought was, we have these two big boxes in downtown, the arena and the ballpark, but we really have nothing for people to do but go to that box and go home," he said. Jackson Street marks the second time in recent months that the private sector has turned its attention to downtown Phoenix in a big way. Late last year, Phoenix officials approved plans for CityScape, a megashopping, residential and retail project that will give the downtown area its first grocery store in 25 years. CityScape, which will be just north of the proposed Jackson Street Entertainment District, is expected to complement this newest plan by providing residents and urban workers with a variety of shopping and dining options downtown.

[Note: To read the full article, click here.] [Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

This day in history

February 13, 1633 : Galileo in Rome for Inquisition. On this day in 1633, Italian philosopher, astronomer and mathematician Galileo Galilei arrives in Rome to face charges of heresy for advocating Copernican theory, which holds that the Earth revolves around the Sun. Galileo officially faced the Roman Inquisition in April of that same year and agreed to plead guilty in exchange for a lighter sentence. Put under house arrest indefinitely by Pope Urban VIII, Galileo spent the rest of his days at his villa in Arcetri, near Florence, before dying on January 8, 1642.

Galileo, the son of a musician, was born February 15, 1564, in Pisa, Italy. He entered the University of Pisa planning to study medicine, but shifted his focus to philosophy and mathematics. In 1589, he became a professor at Pisa for several years, during which time he demonstrated that the speed of a falling object is not proportional to its weight, as Aristotle had believed. According to some reports, Galileo conducted his research by dropping objects of different weights from the Leaning Tower of Pisa. From 1592 to 1630, Galileo was a math professor at the University of Padua, where he developed a
telescope that enabled him to observe lunar mountains and craters, the four largest satellites of Jupiter and the phases of Jupiter. He also discovered that the Milky Way was made up of stars. Following the publication of his research in 1610, Galileo gained acclaim and was appointed court mathematician at Florence.

Galileo's research led him to become an advocate of the work of the Polish astronomer Nicolaus Copernicus (1473-1573). However, the Copernican theory of a sun-centered solar system conflicted with the teachings of the powerful Roman Catholic Church, which essentially ruled Italy at the time. Church teachings contended that Earth, not the sun, was at the center of the universe. In 1633, Galileo was brought before the Roman Inquisition, a judicial system established by the papacy in 1542 to regulate church doctrine. This included the banning of books that conflicted with church teachings. The Roman Inquisition had its roots in the Inquisition of the Middle Ages, the purpose of which was to seek out and prosecute heretics, considered
enemies of the state.

Administration releases 2008 budget recommendations

On February 5, President George W. Bush released his budget recommendations for FY2008. The Administration’s recommendation for the Department of Interior and historic preservation programs within that agency’s budget tracked for the most part with the Administration’s proposal last year. $63,658,000 has been recommended for Historic Preservation Fund programs. Of this amount, $35,717,000 is recommended for State Historic Preservation Offices, $4,000,000 has been proposed for historic resource survey, and $3,941,000 has been recommended for Tribal Historic Preservation Offices. $10,000,000 is recommended for the Save America’s Treasures program. An equal amount is recommended for Preserve America program grants. No funding has been recommended for the Historically Black Colleges and Universities program, according to House Interior Appropriations staff. National Heritage Area funding is not included within the HPF as was proposed in the President’s FY2007 budget. Heritage areas, referred to as the “heritage partnership program” receive $10,000,000 in the President’s recommendation; down from $14,000,000 estimated to be spent in this area in FY2007.

Monday, February 12, 2007

First Americans arrived recently, settled pacific coast, DNA study says

[Source: Stefan Lovgren, National Geographic News] -- A study of the oldest known sample of human DNA in the Americas suggests that humans arrived in the New World relatively recently, around 15,000 years ago. The DNA was extracted from a 10,300-year-old tooth found in a cave on Prince of Wales Island off southern Alaska in 1996. The sample represents a previously unknown lineage for the people who first arrived in the Americas. The findings, published last week online in the American Journal of Physical Anthropology, shed light on how the descendants of the Alaskan caveman might have spread.

Comparing the DNA found in the tooth with that sampled from 3,500 Native Americans, researchers discovered that only one percent of modern tribal members have genetic patterns that matched the prehistoric sample. Those who did lived primarily on the Pacific coast of North and South America, from California to Tierra del Fuego at the southernmost tip of South America. This suggests that the first Americans may have spread through the New World along a coastal route.

Brian Kemp, a molecular anthropologist who sequenced the DNA, said the discovery underlines the importance of genetic research in understanding human migration. "I think there's a lot of information in these old skeletons that's going to help us clarify the timing of the peopling of the Americas and perhaps where Native Americans originated in Asia," said Kemp, a research associate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tennessee. When and how the first people came to the Americas has been a subject of intense debate. The prevailing theory has been that the first to arrive descended from prehistoric hunters who walked across a thousand-mile (1,600-kilometer) land bridge from Asia to Alaska. [Note: To read the full article, click here.]

Thursday, February 08, 2007

Possible historic designation for 3 post World War II Phoenix neighborhoods

[Source: Barbara Stocklin] -- Historic Preservation Staff attended the neighborhood meeting of the Encanto Estates (Del Webb, 1954), Greenway Terrace (Universal Homes, 1951) and Henson Tract (Womack, 1949) subdivisions to discuss the possibility of historic district designation for these post World War II neighborhoods. Approximately 60 people were in attendance. Staff encouraged the neighborhood to begin collecting historical information and doing oral histories and collecting photographs from original owners. The City of Phoenix Historic Preservation Office reported that it is working on a three-year study of post-World War II neighborhoods, and will not be prepared to make recommendations on tract neighborhoods from this era until the study is complete in a couple years. [Photo source: Leanne Matzenger.]

Monday, February 05, 2007

Historical building, dome at ASU on last legs

[Source: Gail Fisher] -- You better hurry and take a last look at the historical Valley National Bank building at Rural Road and Apache Boulevard. On Dec. 28, the Arizona State University Visitor Information Center is vacating the distinctive geodesic domed structure in preparation for the demolition of the building. The Arizona Board of Regents recently approved ASU's request to begin site preparation for the Barrett Honors College and South Campus Academic Village project.

This approval means demolishing the bank building and dismantling the dome for some future reuse on the ASU campus. As required by law, ASU reviewed its plan with the state historical preservation officer. The officer responded that preserving the roof structure and relocating it to another location "are not consistent with the preservation of historical properties, the duties of the agency, and the professional standards which the state historical preservation officer recommends." The officer, unfortunately, has no jurisdiction over the university.

So many in the historical preservation community, and especially in Tempe, have expressed interest in saving the Valley National Bank building - the total building, not just the roof. More than two years ago, ASU asked for developer plans for the site. Developers teamed with architects who studied the site and proposed designs according to university specifications. When the architectural design teams asked about the historical bank already on the property, ASU gave no direction to save it. According to one participating firm, ASU said it wanted to get rid of the whole thing because it was in the way of the new college and academic village. [Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo by Walt Lockley, Modern Phoenix]

The Arizona Preservation Foundation is just one group that is concerned about the improper destruction of this building. The Tempe Historic Preservation Commission, State Historic Preservation Office, National Trust for Historic Preservation, and Modern Phoenix Neighborhood Network all support preserving this building and incorporating it into any future projects.

What you can do

  • Contact ASU president Michael Crow and let him know that you want to see other options put forward, not just a quasi-attempt at appeasing preservationist by removing the dome and placing it in storage until the College of Design can come up with a suitable use for it.
  • Contact the Board of Regents, which includes the Governor, and ask them to reconsider their vote for the demolition of the building. Ask them to recommend that ASU work within state law and not around it.
  • Contact the Arizona Preservation Foundation and ask what else you can do to help. We can be reached by e-mail, phone 602-258-1920, or fax 602-283-4177.

Saturday, February 03, 2007

Advocacy workshop: "Why museums matter and what you can do about it"

"Dear Preservation Colleagues, although this advocacy workshop is sponsored by the national and state museum associations, it is really about advocacy for our cultural institutions, certainly including persons advocating for preservation issues. One aspect of the workshop is how all of us, for whom advocacy is crucial, can learn from what each other are accomplishing. Those of you in the preservation community--and members of your boards and volunteer organizations--are most welcome."
Regards, Tom Wilson, President, Museum Association of Arizona.

On Tuesday, February 13th, the American Association of Museums and the Museum Association of Arizona present a full-day program that explores how to advocate on behalf of your museum on the national, state and local levels. It is essential that staff, board members, volunteers and stakeholders be able to make the case effectively for our museums and cultural organizations.

8:00-8:30 Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:30-8:45 Welcome (Thomas H. Wilson, President, Museum Association of Arizona)
8:45-10:00 Understanding the Political Process
Advocacy isn’t rocket science, but sometimes understanding how things do and don’t get done in Congress can certainly seem like it! In this session we’ll explore what legislators want and who they listen to, the legislative process, legislative terms and buzzwords and how to get your museum's needs into the mix. (Ember Farber, Legislative & Advocacy Assistant, American Association of Museums)

10-10:15 Break
10:15-11:30 Getting Involved in Advocacy at the Federal Level
This session will explore the nuts and bolts of advocacy and lobbying, from engaging legislators, your board and your members on key issues to dealing with the press. The session will end with plenty of time for questions and answers, interactive advocacy exercises and tips for applying federal advocacy practices to your visits with Arizona legislators. (Ember Farber, Legislative & Advocacy Assistant, American Association of Museums)

11:30-12:00 Discussion
12:00-1:00 Lunch Provided
1:00-2:15 Advocacy on the State Level
Nonprofits can learn a lot from the advocacy efforts of other nonprofit groups skilled at making their cases on the state level. Join panelists from Arizona Action for the Arts, the Sierra Club and the Arizona Library Association to learn to learn about making the case for our nonprofit institutions. (Eileen Klein, United Health Care, Arizona Action for the Arts; Sandy Bahr, Conservation Outreach Director, Sierra Clubl; Brenda Brown, Chandler Public Library, Chair, Arizona Library Association Legislative Committee)

2:15-2:30 Break
2:30-3:45 Grassroots Advocacy Before It’s Too Late: The Mesa Case
In 2006 a budget crisis in Mesa led to two tax measures on the ballot, one of which passed and one of which failed. Failure of the property tax led to severe budget cuts to Mesa’s cultural institutions. Learn about the campaign and effective advocacy on the local level and creating grassroots support for your organization before its too late. (Mike Hutchinson, former Mesa City Manager, Vice Chair, Mesa Arts Center Foundation; Paul Benz, Highground Public Affairs Consultants; Vic Linoff, Chair, Advocacy Committee, Mesa Historical Museum; Lisa Anderson, President & CEO, Mesa Historical Museum)

3:45-4:15 Discussion

Carnegie Center, 1101 West Washington, Phoenix, AZ 85007, (602)255-2110. Tuesday, February 13, 2007, all day or half-day. Registration (per person) for a full day including lunch: $20 Museum Association of Arizona members; $25 Non-members. Half-day without lunch: $15 All attendees. Make checks payable to Museum Association of Arizona and mail to (attendees to morning or afternoon half-day sessions may pay at the door): Holly Young, Treasurer, Museum Association of Arizona C/o Pueblo Grande Museum. 4619 E. Washington St. Phoenix, AZ 85034-1909. For further information, contact Thomas H. Wilson, President, Museum Association of Arizona, (480)644-3418;

The French fight to preserve the Champs-Elysees could inspire a similar fight for Mill Avenue

[Source:] -- If you look banal up in the dictionary, the first image to come to mind probably wouldn't be Paris' most famous street for shopping.The Champs-Elysees is the street famous for bearing the passage of Charles de Gaulle's celebratory march, freeing France from Nazi occupation. The street also plays host to many of the city's parades and celebrations.

On the Champs-Elysees, you can shop at a five - story Louis Vuitton boutique and other high-end retailers. You can visit automobile showrooms where companies vie to be the one with the flashiest prototypes to wow visitors. The street receives almost half a million visitors daily, and is second only to the Eiffel Tower as a popular destination for visitors. Nevertheless, Parisians were worried enough by a surge in the number of big box retailers moving in to support a government effort to prevent the "banalization" of the street, hoping to revive the street's famous movie theatres, music clubs, and other upscale, unique locations that skyrocketing rent has forced elsewhere.

Ironically, the very word banal is derived from a word for a compulsory government edict. In any event, the campaign against banalization is one that should gain international support. We could even start right here, in Tempe. When we walk down Mill Avenue, we'd like to start seeing a little less Ruby Tuesday and a little more Cafe Boa. Nothing against Z Gallerie, but given the fact that the ASU campus is practically bursting with artistic talent, it'd be nice to see an actual outlet in Tempe, perhaps in the form of a gallery - or at least something more than a couple walls of art in a coffee shop.

[Note: To read the full article, click here.] Photo by Jeff L. Knapp.

Friday, February 02, 2007

This day in history

February 2, 1887: First Groundhog Day. On this day in 1887, Groundhog Day, featuring a rodent meteorologist, is celebrated for the first time at Gobbler's Knob in Punxsutawney,Pennsylvania. According to tradition, if a groundhog comes out of its hole on this day and sees its shadow, there will be six more weeks of winter weather; no shadow means an early spring.

Groundhog Day has its roots in the ancient Christian tradition of Candlemas Day, when clergy would bless and distribute candles needed for winter. The candles represented how long and cold the winter would be. Germans expanded on this concept by selecting an animal--the hedgehog--as a means of predicting weather. Once they came to America, German settlers in Pennsylvania continued the tradition, although they switched from hedgehogs to groundhogs, which were plentiful in the Keystone State.

Groundhogs, also called woodchucks and whose scientific name is Marmota monax, typically weigh 12 to 15 pounds and live six to eight years. They eat vegetables and fruits, whistle when they're frightened or looking for a mate and can climb trees and swim. They go into hibernation in the late fall; during this time, their body temperatures drop significantly, their heartbeats slow from 80 to five beats per minute and they can lose 30 percent of their body fat. In February, male groundhogs emerge from their burrows to look for a mate (not to predict the weather) before going underground again. They come out of hibernation for good in March.

Museums struggle under budget cuts

[Source: Srianthi Perera, Arizona Republic] -- More than six months after Mesa reduced or stopped funding for arts institutions in the city, the directors of Mesa's three major museums are aggressively pursuing options to keep their doors open and exhibits fresh. Collaborative efforts, increased community involvement and a heavy reliance on volunteers are proving to be vital for the Mesa Southwest Museum, the Arizona Museum for Youth and the Mesa Historical Museum. With deficits, skeletal budgets, unresolved projects and diminished services, it's touch and go. The numbers tell the story of this downtown Mesa museum.

City funding was cut in half last year, to $1,220,543, and the museum is operating with 12 staff members, half the number before the cuts. Museum hours were reduced in July from 39 a week to 30, and the advertising budget was slashed from $30,000 to $15,000. Museum attendance fell 38 percent in the last half of 2006 compared with the same period in 2005. Among the few bits of good news is that starting Jan. 16, a new cadre of volunteers has made it possible for the museum to be open 38 hours a week. Even with that, director Tom Wilson doesn't mince words. "People aren't used to finding out that museums are closing in the middle of the afternoon. A lot of people are disappointed," Wilson said. "They either have to leave early or can't get in the front door. We're making a lot of citizens in Mesa mad."

[Note: To read the full article, click here. ] Photo by Mesa Southwest Museum.