Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Thursday, May 02, 2013

DC-area Preservation funding grant contest

Greenbelt Theatre April 15, 2010  (12)Old Greenbelt Theater.  Flickr image by hoteldennis.

American Express in association with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, operating as Partners in Preservation, sponsor a contest that moves around the country to different metropolitan areas, where historic sites of various sorts "compete" for votes using social media and other communications methods, for money that they can use to fix up their properties.

Now, it is the turn for the Washington Metropolitan area, and properties in DC, Maryland (see "Online competition might help raise curtain for Old Greenbelt Theatre" and "Public to vote on grant money for historic preservation in Montgomery," from the Gazette) and Virginia ("Athenaeum Wants Your Vote to Fund Restoration in Online Contest" from the Connection Newspapers) are participating.

The master winner gets $100,000, while all properties get some money.

This weekend, all of the participating sites are holding open houses.  Check their websites for more information.

-- For more information and to vote, see the website set up for the local contest: Preserve DMV.
-- Press release

I do have reservations about such contests
Note that I am not a big fan of contests like these because the voting is subject to gaming.  But when there isn't enough money or good enough preservation planning I suppose there aren't other alternatives.

Plus, it's not really a fair contest, when organizations like Mount Vernon Plantation (ironically the site of the nation's first public initiative in historic preservation, in the mid-1800s) and Washington National Cathedral, are included in the same contest as Greenbelt Theatre and the Dumbarton Oaks Park.

There should be two different "panels" in the competition, one for the big institutions, and one for the small organizations.

Mount Vernon and the Cathedral have close to 500,000 "points" in the contest so far, while the fourth place site has fewer than 200,000 points, and the sites already trailing in the balloting aren't likely to make up for the larger support base of the bigger institutions.

A yard sign promoting the Congressional Cemetery, in the Preservation Partners grant campaignLeft: this yard sign promoting social media voting for the Congressional Cemetery is located at 11th Street and Maryland Avenue NE.  Last weekend, I noticed a big banner outside the Colvin Run Mill in Virginia, but I wasn't able to take a photograph.

Plus, the contest is definitely weighted in favor of DC locations, based on the number of participants located in DC.

On the other hand, this means that votes for DC-based institutions are less concentrated than they can be for the Maryland and Virginia participating organizations, and in fact, at the moment I am writing this, 3 of the top 5 positions are held by non-DC-based sites.

Why not check out Dumbarton Oaks Park?

Bridge, Dumbarton Oaks Park.  Wikipedia image.

I did get a press release from Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy:

The Dumbarton Oaks Park Conservancy would like your help in publicizing an Open House in the Park on May 4th from 10-2. The original wilderness garden of Dumbarton Oaks Estate was given to the People of the United States in 1940. The 27 acre Park in historic Georgetown is a unit of the National Park Service's Rock Creek Park. The Conservancy, in partnership with Rock Creek Park, is working to rescue and repair the Park from stormwater and invasive plants.

And here is their list of events:

• 10:30 am: Free Children's Music Class in the Meadow with Levine School of Music (Parents welcome!)
• 12:00 noon: Poetry with Grace Cavalieri, DC poet laureate and host of The Poet and the Poem series at the Library of Congress
• Walking tours and exhibits
• Wildlife learning station
• Information on RiverSmart and energy-efficient homes
• Park restoration activities (Come dressed to pull English ivy!)
• Art in the meadow (Artists invited to sketch and paint.)

And it's a great setting.  Also see the 2011 Post article and photo gallery, "Conservancy formed to rescue Dumbarton Oaks Park."

The 24 historic places in the greater Washington, D.C. Metro area competing for the $1 million in grants are:

Washington, DC participants
• Abner Cloud House at the C&O Canal, Georgetown, D.C.
• All Souls Church Unitarian, Adams Morgan, D.C.
• Carter G. Woodson Home National Historic Site, Shaw, D.C.
• Clara Barton’s Missing Soldiers Office, Penn Quarter, D.C.
• Congressional Cemetery, Barney Circle, D.C.
• Dumbarton Oaks Park, Georgetown, D.C.
• The GALA Hispanic Theatre at The Tivoli, Columbia Heights, D.C.
• George Mason Memorial, National Mall, D.C.
• Heyden Observatory, Georgetown, D.C.
• LAMB at Military Road School, Brightwood, D.C.
• Living Classrooms of the National Capital Region, Anacostia, D.C.
• Meridian Hill Park, Columbia Heights, D.C.
• Metropolitan African Methodist Episcopal Church, Scott Circle, D.C.
• National Museum of Women in the Arts, Franklin Park, D.C.
• Sixth & I Historic Synagogue, Mount Vernon Square, D.C.
• Washington National Cathedral, Tenleytown, D.C.

Maryland participants
• Darby Store, Beallsville, Md.
• Greenbelt Theatre, Greenbelt, Md.
• The Kennel at Aspin Hill Memorial Park, Silver Spring, Md.

Virginia participants
• Arlington House, Arlington, Va.
• The Athenaeum, Alexandria, Va.
• Colvin Run Mill, Great Falls, Va.
• Mount Vernon, Mount Vernon, Va.
• U.S. Marine Corps War Memorial, Arlington, Va.
Preservation Partners promotional sign, on the WMATA subway

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