Posts Tagged Louise Hayman
This post is a salute to a dear personal friend and a dear friend of historic preservation. Next week, Nancy Miller Schamu ends another chapter in her professional career which has covered more than four decades. (Note, I do not use the word “retire,” which I have come to loathe as so many of my contemporaries approach that watershed.) Nancy will merely cease to take the train to Washington DC each day from her home in Baltimore’s Federal Hill. I am confident that her next adventure is right around the figurative corner and betting that it embraces some aspect of history or preservation, perhaps only less structured. With a graduate degree in history and at the dawn of historic preservation in Maryland, Nancy began her career at the Maryland Historical Trust, joining a tiny cadre of staff working under Maryland’s first State Historic Preservation Officer, Orlando Ridout IV. Not long after, I became her less-than-welcome office mate there, but together, we helped raise Maryland’s preservation movement to adolescence, having too much fun to consider it work, until she became Preservation Maryland’s executive director in 1982.
In 1985, Nancy headed for the Hall of the States in Washington DC to become the deputy director of the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers. Nancy will be feted by the NCSHPO as its members gather in Washington this week to observe Historic Preservation Advocacy Week. It will be hard to imagine the national preservation community without Nancy’s leadership, and I think ill advised. As she wrote to me not long ago, leaving her workplace of 27 years felt somewhat like jumping out of an airplane without a parachute. Nancy, you’ve got a very dependable and secure parachute in place: your experience and reputation. You’ll land softly and be about the next thing that interests you even before we can change your email address! As you, a great Francophile, might say, “Bonne chance!”
A spectacular autumn evening in a stunning waterfront setting set the stage for An Evening of Entertainment at Wheatlands, the Talbot County home of War of 1812 hero General Perry Benson. Benson is credited with the ruse of hanging lanterns in the treetops of St. Michaels, providing a false target for British ships. In addition to friends of Preservation Maryland and our co-conspirators, the Historical Society of Talbot County, a detachment of Royal Marines invaded the historic waterfront property, taking hostage one of the female guests. Lest the damsel fall into distress, an authentic copper bucket was passed to secure the necessary ransom, and she was quickly returned to the gathering of colonials. The nervy Brits remained on site until the party’s conclusion, demanding to sample what they referred to as “grog.”
The magical friend-raising evening for our two organizations was made possible through the generosity of Wheatlands owners Bruce and Alice Rogers. PM board members Audrey Scott and Russell Dashiell and his wife JoAnne volunteered their services to help make everything run smoothly, as did Ward Bucher, an Eastern Shore Advisory Council member.
To see more of the event, visit the photograph album posted on our Facebook page.
Not just any British, either: the Royal Marines, straight from the War of 1812. Enjoy cocktails and an abundant buffet as you await their arrival at –
An evening of entertainment at Wheatlands
Join us on Saturday, October 13 for a unique and enjoyable evening at historic Wheatlands along the Miles River. This event will be held in association with the Historical Society of Talbot County. A private home, Wheatlands is the birthplace of General Perry Benson of War of 1812 fame. Enjoy delicious buffet, a full bar, and musical interludes by the Free and Easy Group. Local actor David Foster will offer his take on The Humor of American Politics: How Laughter Has Kept the Republic on Track. Finally, HSTC’s Talbotopoly game-board will come to life with interesting sign-ups for historic excursions, dinners and unique events during the coming year. Reservations for this event are $125 per HSTC or PM member and $150 for all others. Click here to register.
Every four years, people say to me, “I’m not the least interested in the Olympics.” And, yet almost everywhere I’ve been in the last 10 days, the Olympics have replaced the heat or the drought as the number one topic. It’s strangely unifying and life-affirming, that so many people throughout the world are focused on watching the best of the best do their best.
So, I got to thinking: what if there was a Preservation Olympics, where people all over the world convene to show off what they have done in their home communities in the name of historic preservation, where there was genuine competition among groups or individuals who had worked for years on projects, overcome hurdles and reached new heights – all in the name of saving some aspect of the past so that it can be part of the present and the future.
Where would it be held? Who would sponsor it? Who would enter? What would they do to prepare for the competition? Would Maryland have any contestants to beat? I know this whole line of thinking is sort of silly, but you have to admit that the triumph of the human spirit over limitations — and preservation is filled with them — is compelling and inspiring. So, too are those things we choose to save from our past. Every one of them has some association with the human existence and human achievement. Honoring those bits of our past says something about society. It says what came before us is important, and the evidence of it binds us together, all in the “contest” we call life. Now, it’s time to tune in to the women’s water polo.
I recently heard a consultant whose clients are an impressive list of non-profits focused on history and preservation remark that non-profits can’t be “killed off.” Even those which seem to be limping along financially or whose mission is not cutting edge among today’s charitable causes, seem to survive. Similarly, he pointed out, that achieving collaborative economies or truly sharing missions isn’t part of the non-profit culture. Restaurants come and go, telecommunications giants, financial institutions, and airlines disappear or morph into some other entity but non-profits are generally stubbornly independent and territorial. Only a few hours later, I talked with the director of a local historical society, and she mentioned that her organization is considering how it can be more collaborative with another very successful non-profit which, years ago, was spun off from her older organization. Those two conversations really made think.
Are we entering an era when, of necessity, we will have to look more closely at efficiencies and real partnering too achieve common goals? I think this may be the case. For no other reason, the non-profit sector continues to grow in our state, even though we have been feeling the effects of an economic downturn for four years now. Are people willing, generous though they may be, to provide healthy financial underpinnings for these approximately 30,000 organizations? Those of us who rely on donors –and most do to some degree –owe them a self-examination of our goals and practices to make sure we are using our resources as carefully as possible.
Those of us in the non-profit arena would have to be cave-dwellers not to have heard the new verb “to partner” or its adjectival relative, “partnering.” I am as guilty as anyone at using those words without really defining them. Sharing a mailing list, or joining in sponsoring an event are a start, but I think we may have to delve deeper into cost- and mission- effective ways to accomplish our goals. The luxury of each non-profit occupying its own silo is no longer realistic. This may be especially true for the many small non-profits for which hope of significant growth and sustainability may not be realistic. What do you think?
If you’re reading this, you probably love visiting historic properties, whether they are maintained for public benefit or simply lovingly taken care of by their owners. There is something so satisfying in seeing evidence of the past and the continuity of occupation that an ancient building offers. It is easy to take for granted the resources and work that go into maintaining older buildings, an often significantly greater investment than necessary in newer buildings, especially if work is done according to the standards we preservationists impose on historic buildings. I am frequently made aware of historic properties in private hands where the owners desire their perpetual preservation but are unsure how to guarantee that absent unlimited financial resources. To those non-profit organizations which struggle to maintain and share their historic properties, attempting to remain relevant in a world of interactive, electronic learning, we owe immense gratitude. Suppose their stewards simply stopped doing what they have done for decades. Imagine if our state lost the hundreds of historic sites that are open to the public. And, yet, history sites and museums are threatened today by economic and cultural conditions as never before. Historic and cultural organizations are on the lowest rungs of philanthropy. Memberships in them are generally declining, and the cost of maintaining their property grows. There are complex reasons for these conditions which cannot possibly be covered here, but they are intractably challenging, and indications point to greater contraction among historic sites. Those which fail to innovate are most certainly doomed to continue their decline in visitation and financial resources. I know this is demoralizing, and I wish there were easy answers. To thrive, we will need to collaborate, learn from each other, share resources and market our cause.
Few things are more satisfying to an event organizer than the day after a successful special event which took months to plan and produce. Preservation Maryland’s June 5 reception honoring the 37 founding members of our Heritage Society is the source of my satisfaction today. The owner-guided tours of Whitehall, the circa 1760 site of the event, were enthralling. Predicted showers held off. Abundant food and libations were enjoyed along with convivial conversation among old friends and new. And, as if on cue, the occasional yacht with sunlit sails, crossed the party’s Whitehall Bay vista.
Thanks to the Brandywine Foundation for making available this remarkable National Historic Landmark with its association to colonial Maryland and the American Revolution for our inaugural Heritage Society event. Special thanks to Heritage Society members who supply generous support for both specific programs and for general operating expenses.
Access to privately owned historic properties is one benefit of joining Preservation Maryland’s Heritage Society. This special category of membership includes those who have given $2500 annually. For more information on the Heritage Society, contact me at email@example.com.
Maryland’s last Provincial Governor Horatio Sharpe lived only briefly at Whitehall, near Annapolis, which he began building in 1764. He sailed for England in 1773 as hostilities between that country and its rebellious colony intensified. And though he never returned to see how it was modified by John Ridout, secretary to Governor Sharpe, who acquired the property in 1780, you have that opportunity if you attend the June 5 reception to honor Preservation Maryland’s Heritage Society. Beside those leadership donors to Preservation Maryland we honor that evening, we will recognize the Ridout family, descendants of Governor Sharpe’s secretary and preeminent members of Maryland’s historic preservation community. The Ridout family occupied Whitehall for 116 years until the late 19th century.
The magnificent Georgian mansion was returned to its 18th century appearance by the last owners in the mid-20th century. Now owned by the Brandywine Foundation which will permit limited access to the interior, Whitehall is a National Historic Landmark and one of Maryland’s least visited landmarks. We hope you will join us on June 5 to see for yourself why it is one of the most significant. To register to attend, click here.
A Pride? Not a Flock. Nor a Fleet. How about a Richness? Whatever the term should be, Maryland has ‘em! I participated on a conference call recently organized by the National Trust for Historic Preservation to discuss the naming of the collective Rosenwald Schools as one of our National Treasures, a new designation that promises to focus attention on America’s most significant and most threatened historic resources. The Rosenwalds were added to America’s Most Endangered list by the National Trust in 2002. Maryland, it seems, had 153 of the 5,300 schools built for blacks in the South between 1912 and 1932 through the generosity of Julius Rosenwald, one of the founders of the Sears, Roebuck & Co. empire. According to a survey done about 10 years ago, 53 of them survive in Maryland. Preservation Maryland named the Ridgeley Rosenwald School in Prince George’s County to our Endangered Maryland list in 2007. Happily the building has since undergone a $1.1 million restoration and is now a museum. We also recognized Mildred Ridgley-Gray with Preservation Maryland’s Volunteer Award in 2008 for her efforts towards the school’s preservation.
But where do we go from here? With such an impressive collection of the schools remaining, the National Trust is seeking funding support for their preservation and hopes to hold several regional conferences to encourage and facilitate the preservation of the schools, which are found in 16 states. Preservation Maryland will consider cooperating on one of those conferences and in redoubling our efforts to ensure that our state’s Richness of Rosenwalds receive the attention that they deserve.