When I first started as a volunteer with Knox Heritage 15 years ago, I didn't know how preservation worked or why it worked. I just knew I loved old buildings, neighborhoods and downtowns and thought everyone should. It was instinctual. I'd been raised in Mobile and our residential historic districts are beautiful places. While I was growing up, the downtown was still mostly abandoned after 5 o'clock and on weekends, but that made it the perfect place for a teenager to wander around and soak up the architecture created during times when the Spanish, French and English flags flew over the 300-year-old city. I didn't know why it was all still standing and didn't even think to ask that question. It was there and it was gorgeous and it was the thing that defined my favorite hometown.
After spending time living in Tuscaloosa, Athens and Atlanta, I landed in Knoxville in 1991. I immediately fell in love with Market Square and tried unsuccessfully to live in what is now the home of Rita's. So, I began looking for a historic house in a neighborhood near downtown. I was surprised by how under appreciated the older parts of town were, but didn't mind that quite so much when it allowed me to purchase an 1893 house - which I later discovered was designed by George Barber - for around $50K in Parkridge. But as my personal restoration project progressed, my attention was drawn to the larger issue of Knoxville's historic core. I was sure we were on the verge of a turnaround for downtown and the neighborhoods around it - it only took about 13 years longer than I thought it would.
During those years I didn't know what I didn't know. I knew historic buildings, places and neighborhoods were important, but I didn't know how to prove that to people who doubted their value. I didn't understand how to do that until I found preservationists in other places who'd figured it out. Suddenly, I understood the breadth of what was possible and had access to the tools I needed to get it done. It was one of the most exciting periods of my life. It was made possible by the folks at the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the many opportunities they gave me to meet people who shared my passion and who were putting preservation to work in new and creative ways.
After 18 years in East Tennessee, I've discovered most people have some sort of an instinct for preservation. Many of them are passionate about their heritage and the places that define them and their communities. Now all they need are the tools to make it all work - whether it be sparking new life on Main Street or preserving the rich landscapes that make this one of the most beautiful places in the world to live.
Once again the National Trust for Historic Preservation has provided an opportunity for East Tennesseans to learn the tools of the trade. Funding through their Partners in the Field program has allowed Knox Heritage to revive regional preservation efforts and jump start the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance. The Alliance will host a regional preservation conference this Friday and Saturday in Townsend and leading preservationists from across the country will be there to share what they know and how it can be applied in our region.
One of the most successful preservationists in the country and a dear friend of mine, Myrick Howard, will share how North Carolina has saved hundreds of endangered historic properties and Amy Potts with Preservation Kentucky will provide strategies for rural heritage preservation. Patrick McIntyre, director of the Tennessee Historical Commission, and Dr. Carroll Van West, director of MTSU's Center for Historic Preservation, will be on hand to share their wisdom and experience. Plus, Metro Pulse's own Jack Neely will speak at the Friday evening reception about Market Square's long-standing connection to the region.
The two-day conference is a rare opportunity to meet other preservationists from across the region and gain the knowledge needed to preserve the buildings and landscapes that define East Tennessee. And it's cheap - only 30 bucks for both days and that includes all conference sessions, the reception, lunch and more. So, visit East Tennessee Regional Preservation Conference for more information and a registration form.
Here are the details:
Citizens from around the region will learn the tools and practices they need to help protect historic places that matter. This week the East Tennessee Preservation Alliance (ETPA) is hosting the East Tennessee Regional Preservation Conference, the first since ETPA's re-formation in January. The Conference will take place at the Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center in Townsend on Friday, September 18, and Saturday, September 19. Fifteen speakers from four states will cover a wide range of preservation-related topics. Everyone is invited to attend and learn more about historic preservation issues affecting all East Tennesseans. Attendees will also have time to tour the award-winning Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center.
The full conference schedule and registration information is available below. You can also register and find out more by calling Knox Heritage at 865-523-8008 or visting www.knoxheritage.org. Early registration is encouraged due to limited capacity. Conference registration is $30.00 for adults and $20.00 for students. The registration fee includes all sessions, a Friday afternoon reception, coffee and snacks on Saturday morning, a boxed lunch on Saturday, conference materials, and a year membership to ETPA.
The conference's Keynote speaker, J. Myrick Howard, has served as Executive Director of Preservation North Carolina for over thirty years, where he has developed the highly-effective Endangered Properties Program. The program has saved more than 600 endangered historic properties, generating an estimated $200 million in private investment. The National Park Service called PNC "the premier statewide preservation organization in the South - if not the nation." Author of Buying Time for Heritage, Mr. Howard will share his secrets and inspirational stories at the conference.
Other featured speakers include Dr. Carroll Van West, Director of MTSU's Center for Historic Preservation, who will review a variety of projects around the region, from African American cemeteries to preserving the legacy of the New Deal. Amy Potts, Field Representative for the Kentucky Crossroads Rural Heritage Development Initiative (RHDI), will explain this demonstration program of the National Trust, which works in collaboration with the Preservation Kentucky to help develop and implement preservation-based economic development strategies in rural areas.
The 2009 East Tennessee Regional Preservation Conference is funded in part by a grant from the Charles Evans Hughes Memorial Foundation Preservation Fund of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Friday, September 18
10:00 am-12:00 pm
East Tennessee Preservation Alliance Annual Meeting
ETPA will be conducting a business meeting to begin developing a strategic plan for the new organization. Other items on the agenda include nominations to the Board, committee designations, and upcoming Preservation Toolbox sessions. All are welcome to attend.
11:00 am-1:00 pm
Conference Registration ~ Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
123 Cromwell Dr
Townsend, TN 37882-4323
Lunch on Your Own
- Timber's-8123 East Lamar Alexander Parkway (865) 448-6838
- Deadbeat Pete's Mexican Cantina-7613 Old Highway 73 (865) 448-0900
- Miss Lily's Cafe-122 Depot Road (865) 865-448-1924
1:10 pm-2:00 pm
FRI1 - Local Historic Zoning-Rob Crawford, Certified Local Government Coordinator Tennessee Historical Commission
Come learn about local zoning ordinances and how they can help protect your historic neighborhoods. Also, come learn how important it is for your community to become a "Certified Local Government" to participate in certain preservation programs.
FRI2 -Generating Support and Visibility through Membership and Media-Becky Hancock, Assistant Director Knox Heritage
There is strength in numbers, so developing a loyal donor base is crucial to the financial stability of your organization. The media can also be a powerful partner in spreading the word about your mission or latest project. This session will review the basics of a membership program, including recruiting new members and maintaining existing support, as well as strategies and practices to inform and engage the local and regional media outlets.
2:10 pm-3:00 pm
FRI3 - Context Sensitive Solutions: Working Together in Transportation-Julie Lamb, TN Dept. of Transportation Environment and Planning Bureau
This presentation will focus on the Tennessee Department of Transportation's improved project development process that focuses on working with key stakeholders to identify the context of a project area in order to discover the best solution for the transportation needs. The historic context of many areas in Tennessee make it vital for historic preservation stakeholders to be a part of the project development process.
FRI4 - From the Government and Here to Help: The Tennessee Historical Commission and its Programs-Patrick McIntyre, Executive Director and State Historic Preservation Officer Tennessee Historical Commission
Come learn how the State Historic Preservation Office assists preservation supporters across the state in promoting the protection and revitalization of Tennessee's historic buildings and neighborhoods.
3:10 pm-4:00 pm
FRI5 - Jonesborough: The Little Town with the Big Story - Bill Kennedy, Chair of the Jonesborough Historic Zoning Commission and an Advisor Emeritus of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Deborah Montanti, Executive Director of the Heritage Alliance of Northeast Tennessee and Southwestern Virginia
As Tennessee's oldest town, the backdrop for the re-birth of the storytelling tradition and a Preserve America community, Jonesborough' s claim to the heritage tourism market is strong. Montanti and Kennedy will discuss Jonesborough's journey from a small dying town just off the interstate to a vibrant, authentic destination where our past is a cherished and vital part of our future.
FRI6 - I'm From the National Trust and I'm Here To Help You-Nancy Tinker, Senior Program Officer Southern Office of National Trust for Historic Preservation
Nancy Tinker comes armed with the tools of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and will share updates and information on funding programs, outreach initiatives, and Heritage Travel, a new subsidiary of the NTHP that combines social networking with heritage tourism.
4:30 pm-6:30 pm
FRI7 - Reception at the Townsend Visitors Center and Pavilion
Featuring live bluegrass music and Jack Neely who will speak about his new book, "Market Square: A History of the the Most Democratic Place on Earth." Jack will talk about the connection between the rual lands of East Tennessee and the commercial hub of Market Square. He will also be on hand to sign copies of the new book.
7906 E. Lamar Alexander Parkway
Saturday, September 19
8:00 am-9:00 am-Coffee and Baked Goods- Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center
9:00 am-10:00 am
SAT1 - Opening Session: Preserving Our Rural Heritage - Lessons from Kentucky's Rural Heritage Development Initiative -Amy Potts, Field Representative for the Kentucky Crossroads Rural Heritage Development Initiative
Amy Potts will explain this innovative demonstration program of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and Preservation Kentucky. Topics will include structuring a rural heritage program through historic preservation, heritage tourism and small town development; building partnerships; and lessons learned.
10:10 am-11:00 am
SAT2 - A look at downtown. . . What stories will our children tell? Kimberly Nyberg, Statewide Program Manager for the Tennessee Main Street Program
Kimberly Nyberg will address a variety of topics which relate to the revitalization of traditional downtowns and illustrating how communities are successfully reviving and striving to maintain livable downtown environments which appeal to all ages. Topics of the presentation will include: clever case studies and examples of great downtowns, importance of saving downtown, the National Main Street movement and its principals; reinvestment statistics and the statewide Main Street movement in Tennessee.
SAT3 - Burkhart Dairy Farm: Taking Pride in Preservation - Rachel Burkhart
Burkhart Dairy prides itself on being one of the few remaining dairy farms in Blount County. For them farming is not something to make money at or to do imply as a hobby. It is as important to our everyday lives as the air we breathe and the land we cultivate. Being able to preserve this land for agricultural use is a tremendous step towards planning for the future.
11:10 am-12:00 pm
SAT4~Next Steps for Heritage Development in Tennessee's Appalachia- C. Van West, Director, MTSU Center for Historic Preservation
Dr. West will speak about the Encyclopedia of Appalachia and go into new agendas, from the African America resource evaluation in Cocke County, to continued work on the New Deal, to the Getty survey for University of Tennessee, to the new Civil War Sesquicentennial projects, to the new African American cemetery project in Knox, Jefferson, and Greene Counties, and conclude with updates from Bradley County on its Trail of Tears resources.
12:00 pm-12:45 pm-Lunch & Self-Guided Tour of the Great Smoky Mountain Heritage Center Grounds
1:00 pm-1:50 pm
SAT5 -Keynote: Turning Troubled Historic Buildings into Economic Development Assets-J. Myrick Howard, President Preservation North Carolina
Preservation North Carolina is noted nationally for its work to find buyers for neglected and endangered historic properties across the state. Many of these properties have been in rural areas and small towns. Not only do the new buyers renovate the buildings, they bring fresh blood, energy and resources to their new communities. Myrick Howard, executive director for more than thirty years, will discuss how Preservation North Carolina's endangered properties program has leveraged more than $200 million in private investment in once-abandoned properties.
2:00 pm-3:00 pm
SAT6 - Getting Down to Business and Making it Work: A Preservationist Turned Mayor's Perspective - Ted Alexander, Mayor of City of Shelby, NC and Director of the SW Regional Office of Preservation North Carolina
This session will intersperse humor and real life experiences from a small town Mayor to discuss how preservation and "Main Street" proponents must learn to present their case for preservation and downtown revitalization by appealing to the best interests of political leaders who so often are in the decision-making role. From the irrational, to the rational, to the political, this session will delve into the motivating forces behind elected government officials and how preservationists can utilize these forces so that the two camps can mutually benefit.
SAT7 - The Smokies Biodiversity Inventory-Todd Witcher, Executive Director Discover Life in America
Every aspect of life in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is being studied extensively by scientists. The goal is to discover and catalog every type of living organism in the park from bacteria and slime molds to black bears and elk. This project is called the All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory (or ATBI), it is being coordinated by Discover Life in America (DLIA). Almost 900 species new to science and nearly 6500 species new to the park have been documented by the DIA teams of scientists and volunteers.
3:10 pm-4:00 pm
SAT8 - An Archaeological Perspective on Historic Cemetery Studies-Patrick H. Garrow, MACTEC Engineering and Consulting, Inc.
Archaeological studies of historic cemeteries became much more common in the South in the 1990s. One reason for this was the passage of the Abandoned Cemetery and Burial Grounds Act in Georgia in 1991, which required that professional archaeologists be involved with locating and delineating human graves on property proposed for a change of land use. This presentation discusses the approaches that have been used on historic cemeteries by archaeologists to find and delineate graves and to relocate them when preservation in place was not an option.
SAT9 - Saving Historic Rosenwald Schools, a Case Study in TN of a Grant and Rehabilitation-Dan Brown, Tennessee Preservation Trust Executive Director
Join Dan as he discusses the in and outs of a National Trust Grant project and focus on the recent rehabilitation of the 1923 Cairo Rosenwald School by the Tennessee Preservation Trust in 2009. A thorough discussion of the project will be presented with photographs outlining the step by step process of the physical rehabilitation and the potential pitfalls of this project and grant projects in general will be discussed, and questions will follow.
All sessions are subject to change.