Weekend News Roundup– October 1, 2021

Black Heritage

In California, a plot of beachfront land will be returned to the descendants of Willa and Charles Bruce, a Black couple who owned it until it was seized by eminent domain. The California legislature approved the measure this month after historical records compiled in a recent report on the incident demonstrated that the land was condemned because its proprietors and patrons were Black.

Tuskegee University was granted $750,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to support a partnership between the University and the University of Pennsylvania for preservation education, outreach, and practice centered on Black heritage.

The Mellon Foundation also allocated a $1 million grant to the United States National Committee of the International Council of Monuments and Sites (US/ICOMOS) to support the development of a Monument Relocation, Removal, and Reinterpretation Toolkit (“Monuments Toolkit”). The study of monuments has been a focal point for the funder, who also supported a National Monument Audit, conducted and recently released by Monument Lab. Findings show that the American monumental landscape is “overwhelmingly white and male” and that “the story of the United States as told by our current monuments misrepresents our history.”

And, for your weekend reading pleasure, enjoy this thought-provoking longform essay by Historian Jill Lepore in the New Yorker on how efforts to rescue African American burial grounds and remains have exposed deep conflicts over inheritance and representation.

Housing 

As thousands of renters have struggled to pay rent due to Covid, an increasing percentage of small landlords are taking advantage of inflated property values and selling. PlanPhilly looks at how the phenomenon is playing out in Philadelphia, citing a larger study by the Joint Center for Housing Studies at Harvard University.  The article points out that this will almost certainly have a negative impact on naturally occurring affordable housing, as these properties turn over and are either converted to single family residences or remodeled and rented at higher price points.  

Paris’s 1870 La Samaritaine department building recently underwent a renovation and now provides 96 new units of affordable housing right in the heart of the city. The push to incorporate more affordable housing options within wealthier areas of the city comes from Paris’s current mayor and from French laws requiring French cities to at least comprise 20% public housing or pay a substantial fine. 

Preservation 

Catch Katlyn Cotton and Alyssa Frystak, with friend and colleague Stephanie Phillips, talk about our work analyzing the potential impacts of a proposed deconstruction ordinance for San Antonio at Build Reuse’s 2021 Deconstruction and Reuse Conference!

Landmarks Illinois hosted a webinar this week to share their new Guiding Principles. Released as part of the organization’s 50 year anniversary, the principles recognize the need for preservation “to become more diverse, equitable, inclusive and accessible.” The principles were developed based on input from a task force of 34 people with a wide range of backgrounds and viewpoints.