Monday, December 31, 2007

National Trust's best and worst of 2007

[Source: Preservation Magazine] -- Is preservation becoming more hip? This year, celebrities like Brad Pitt, Tom Cruise, and Darryl Hannah showed their support of historic architecture and wide open spaces. Longtime building buffs like Diane Keaton, who likes to restore Los Angeles houses, were joined by fellow showbiz types like director Michael Moore, who has promised to rehab a historic Michigan theater. Here’s the best and worst in the world of historic preservation news of 2007, compiled by the National Trust's Preservation magazine editors. (Note that Phoenix and Tempe are mentioned in the "Worst" section)

Best of 2007
  • Floodwaters Spare Farnsworth House. A few weeks after Brad Pitt’s August visit to the iconic Farnsworth House (pictured), floodwaters reached the front steps of the Plano, Ill., house designed by Mies van der Rohe in 1951. Miraculously, only the landscape suffered damage.In 2003, the National Trust for Historic Preservation paid $7.5 million at the auction of the Farnsworth House, rescuing the 58-acre property from potential development. It’s now open to the public as one of the National Trust’s 29 historic sites.
  • The Sun Rises on Hemingway’s Cuban House. After crumbling for decades, a restoration of Ernest Hemingway’s house, Finca Vigia, outside Havana was completed this year. Hemingway, who lived at “Lookout Farm” off and on from 1940 until his death in 1960, wrote For Whom the Bell Tolls in Cuba. With help from the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the Cuban preservation group repaired Finca Vigia, built in 1886, and opened it to the public for the first time.

  • Celebs Chip in to Protect Telluride Valley. The town of Telluride, Colo., managed to raise a whopping $50 million to protect 250 acres of its valley floor from development. Tom Cruise and Darryl Hannah pitched in to meet the May 11 deadline. “The town is elated,” Mayor John Pryor told Preservation Online. “Everyone is smiling.”
  • Philip Johnson’s Glass House Opens. Next to the Superbowl, the most sought-after tickets this year were to see the inside of Philip Johnson’s home and masterpiece, the Glass House in New Canaan, Conn. The house, which Johnson left to the National Trust for Historic Preservation after he died in 2005, opened to the public for the first time in 50 years in June as one of the Trust’s 29 historic sites. (Nearby, however, another Johnson house is threatened.)

[Note: To read the full article, click here. Photo source: National Trust.]