The Ghana Preservation Link

Sam Baddoo tells us how Gaudi’s masterpiece La Sagrada Familia helped sparked an interest that led to preserving local heritage in his home country of Ghana.

Samuel William Baddoo is the West Africa Representative of the World Federation of Tourist Guide Associations and one of Adventures in Preservation‘s Project Managers. He has been a tourism professional since 1986 and owns The Home Tours Ltd (soon to become The African Journeys Co.Ltd.), which has been licensed by the Ghana Tourism Authority since 1994. Home Tours is a destination management organization that works with group travel to Ghana; Sam serves as the program designer and tour guide or heritage interpreter. His specialty is presenting the slave routes as an educational tour across West Africa, and many of his clients have been U.S. students from schools like Spellman, Tulane, Penn State, Vanderbilt, Agnes Scott College, University of Georgia as well as organizations from different fields.

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Like many people, Sam came to his current field in a roundabout way. He started a career with the biggest insurance company in Ghana. He studied insurance at the Escuela de Seguros de Barcelona in Spain and also studied Hispanics at the Universidad Central in Barcelona, Spain. While in Spain, he, not surprisingly, developed an interest in arts and architecture, particularly especially monumental buildings, that would guide the next stages of his career. Sam had the opportunity to participate for three days in hands-on work at the site of the Holy Family Cathedral designed by Gaudi. From there, his new direction was clear.

He went on to study tourism at the Institute of African Studies of the University of Ghana and, since joining Adventures in Preservation, he has added to his busy schedule, the travel to identify buildings which can be classified as monuments with commercial value after restoration. His primary interest is saving indigenously owned buildings of the slave trade era. He believes most historical buildings in Ghana are in crisis and may be destroyed before real tourism development can occur.

In 2015, Sam Baddoo was awarded a prize for creating the walking tour he leads in his native Ga community of Old Accra, in the capital of Ghana. He is also collecting materials for an indigenous museum to house war relics of his native Ga past. He is the first person to have organized a hand on-workshop on preservation of historical buildings in James Town- Accra, which attracted volunteers from Ghana, the U.S and Nigeria.

Sam Baddoo believes tourism has the potential to propel Ghana’s economy forward and is interested in partnering with tourism enthusiasts who want to send groups to Africa to consider Ghana as the preferred destination. It has a past worth exploring and a future to behold.

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James Town Lighthouse; Wikimedia Commons Photo

 

 

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Historic Pubs

The holidays, for me at least, are a time to catch up with friends and family, and to indulge a little bit as well. On raw winter days escaping into a warmly lit pub to meet with friends seems just the thing to do. How about indulging in a little history at the same time? While microbrewing has been on the rise recently, pubs themselves have been around forever.

In writing this post, I struggled to clarify the different between a bar and a pub. I think we all know the difference and expect a specific feeling when entering each. Wikipedia was not much help in distinguishing the two. One website said that pubs serve more food than bars, and that the alcohol selection is limited to beer, wine, and cider. Whatever the differences, a real pub, American, British, or wherever it may be, always has an “old time feel,” even when established recently. There are also those pubs that are truly historic, and for any large city there will certainly be a guide to the most historic pubs and taverns. Something about what a pub is necessitates the feel of a historic building, and there are many to be had. Below are just a few that caught my eye.

In Prague? Check out U Fleku, which has been operating in its location since 1499. With old wood panels, large portions, accordion music, a special house beer (a dark lager, surprisingly), shots of honey-flavored liquor, and communal seating, the pub feels authentic and not at all like an attraction that can seat hundreds.

One of the halls at U Fleku. Photo: ufleku.cz

In London, The Mayflower is supposedly the oldest pub on the Thames, having been opened in 1550 under a different name according to CNN. The pub takes its current name from the famous ship that set sail for the New World right outside the location. Inside, the decor harkens back to the 1500s.

Across the pond in Boston, the Warren Tavern (dating to 1780) claims to have been a favorite spot for both George Washington and Paul Revere.  Though flat-screen TVs have since been added, the interior still shows its Colonial roots.

Inside Warren Tavern. Photo: Warrentavern.com

And with preservation efforts growing worldwide, there are more and more new bars, pubs, and breweries opening in historic buildings. To name just a few, take Cincinnati, for example, where brewery Rhinegeist took over an old bottling plant. And in Pittsburgh, Church Brew Works opened inyou guessed ita converted early 20th-century church. Firehouse Brewing in Rapid City, SD was South Dakota’s first brew pub and has been crafting beer from an old firehouse since 1991. In Hampton, Georgia JailHouse Brewing Company operates from the old city jail.

Is there an interesting or historic pub, brewery, or bar in your town?

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Hope for Gyumri

My name is Armen Hovsepyan, I was born and raised in Gyumri. I received my education both in Gyumri, Armenia and in the US. I returned from the States so that I could use my knowledge in my hometown…

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Armen Hovespyan represents hope for his native Gyumri

Thus began the biographical sketch Armen sent us here at Adventures in Preservation. Armen has been working for several years to bring volunteers to Gyumri to help with building conservation projects. It, like so much else in the country, has taken an extremely long time to bring the project to fruition, but in 2016, there are a host of opportunities to work with Armen and the people of Gyumri.

The city of Gyumri suffers from high unemployment; for youth, the rate is 52%, the second highest in the country. Unemployment is causing both brain drain and migration; there is little on offer. Compounding that issue is a critical housing shortage. More than 25 years after an earthquake devastated the city, a great many people have still not returned to permanent housing.

In addition to his work to protect and preserve Gyumri’s architectural heritage, Armen is working with Gyumri Project Hope, a non-profit organization. Over 25,000 people lost their houses in the 1988 earthquake and through Project Hope Armen is working to raise awareness of the many problems the people of Gyumri are facing. Armen was four months old when the earthquake struck and considers it his “obligation to at least try to improve conditions in Gyumri”.

An extremely hard worker, Armen is also the founder of Travel Gyumri, a tour company  which provides the latest information on Gyumri and Shirak province tours, events, maps and other information for foreign visitors.

Working with EarthWatch was key to raising his awareness and knowledge about Gyumri and what’s known as indigenous Gyumri architecture. The city and province have many endangered monuments. Armen’s goal is to  be able to collect enough funds to be able to rescue at least one of these masterpieces of historic Armenian heritage.

exterior wall-Louise Harrell

Highly detailed stonework is just one characteristic of Armenian architecture  Photo Louise Harrell

Armen uses photography as a tool to show the world the real beauty of Armenian architecture, landscape and culture. Currently, he is working on a series of photos that tell the story of Gyumri people who have been living in temporary shelters for 27 years, revealing their everyday struggle of survival. Armen himself is among them, living in what is essentially a container, with no heat to ward off the freezing winter weather. He has high hopes of moving to an apartment in the coming year. He’d love to live in a historic building.

More Info

Hands-on Building Documentation Volunteer Project in Gyumri

 

 

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People Working to Save and Reopen Historic Mid-South Coliseum in Memphis

A guest post by Marvin Stockwell

Mid-South ColiseumThe Mid-South Coliseum, a mid-century modern, 11,200-seat venue built in 1964 and shuttered in 2007, is threatened with possible demolition. A City of Memphis plan proposes razing the building that once held concerts by the likes of Elvis, the Beatles, Frank Sinatra and James Brown, as well as Memphis State basketball games and wrestling matches, such as the famed match between Jerry “the King” Lawler and comic actor Andy Kaufman. Besides the building’s musical provenance, the Coliseum was built as Memphis’ first racially integrated building.

Through the actions of the Coliseum Coalition, a group formed in February of 2015, public opinion on the viability of the building has shifted from skepticism to optimism that the venue might be reopened. On May 23, 2015, the Coliseum Coalition hosted Roundhouse Revival, a daylong “previtalizing” event outside the Coliseum. The event featured basketball, wrestling and all sorts of music… the core activities that shaped the building’s legacy and, to a degree, define Memphis’ wider cultural legacy. The festival drew more than 4,500 people and helped the Coliseum Coalition establish legitimacy and find a wider support for the cause of saving the building.

Public opinion continued to move in the direction of preserving the facility in early June, when charrettes conducted by the National Charrette Institute showed that 85% of those polled favored reopening the building with only 15% favoring demolition. The data captured in the charrettes was given to the national office of the Urban Land Institute (ULI), which conducted its own interviews and issued a recommendation in June that also favored reopening the Mid-South Coliseum and featuring it as an historic anchor inside the surrounding Mid-South Fairgrounds.

The task remaining for the Coliseum Coalition and others who love the building is to hold the City of Memphis accountable, and see to it that the city makes an earnest attempt at following the ULI’s recommendation.

To learn more about how you can help save and reopen the Mid-South Coliseum, visit coliseumcoalition.org or facebook.com/coliseumcoalition.

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Summer of Discovery

A guest post by Victoria Falcon, an up-and-coming preservationist who tried her hand at archaeology this summer

With no real plans for the summer, I took to the internet to find an opportunity for hands-on preservation experience and stumbled upon the Adventures in Preservation website  and found their joint project with The Fairfield Foundation. Without thinking about it too much, I signed myself up for both sessions at Fairfield.

Dave Brown, co-founder of The Fairfield Foundation, had contacted all of the participants in advance to let them know that there would be a smaller than average group on site in June but this would allow us each to focus on our interests. I then explained to Dave that I had little knowledge of archaeology, that my main interest was preservation but that I was interested in learning as much as I could. And  learn we did. Throughout the week, if I, or Callie or Kelly showed interest in doing something, we were given the opportunity to do so.

I began my first week at Fairfield, digging through Layer C, the rubble layer outside the house. With no archaeology knowledge I was a bit worried, but with excellent teachers like Dave, Thane and Anna, my concerns soon faded. By Tuesday afternoon, we had removed enough of the rumble to see a fallen wall section that needed to be mapped. Given my interest in technical drawings, I was paired with Colleen, a Fairfield Foundation intern, to map in the fallen wall.

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Documentation work at Fairfield Plantation. Photo: The Fairfield Foundation

Wednesday morning offered a nice break from our digging with a field trip to Colonial Williamsburg to work with Jason Whitehead, head of the colonial brick yard. Not only did we tour the brick yard and receive a full explanation of the brick- and mortar-making process, we were able to jump in and mix clay with our feet.

With everyone in agreement, we chose to forego any additional adventures Wednesday afternoon and head back to Fairfield: the call of the fallen wall segment was too strong to resist. The mapping took the rest of the day and by Thursday we were able to begin removing the bricks from the fallen wall section. By end of the workday on Friday, it was hard not to be impressed by the amount of progress we had made during the week. From a rubble layer that was difficult to work on, to a flat surface that exposed the burn layer from 1897.

Examining the burn layer at Fairfield. Photo: Victoria Falcon

Examining the burn layer at Fairfield. Photo: Victoria Falcon

My second week at Fairfield began with exposing more of the burn layer (Layer D). Working in the burn layer, I found more artifacts in mere minutes than I had found in my entire previous week. After cleaning the burn layer, we moved onto documenting it through drawings and photographs. Given my previous experience documenting the fallen wall section (and my interest in doing so), I teamed up with Emma, a Fairfield intern, and we spent our time carefully mapping out the burn layer in preparation of removing it to expose the 1897 soil.

Following our Wednesday morning spent at Colonial Williamsburg, we took the ferry across the bay to visit Bacon’s Castle in Surry County. Bacon’s Castle is a Jacobean style home, built in 1665. Bacon’s Castle is one of only two standing structures featuring the diagonally set chimneys stacks that Fairfield also featured. To be able to stand and look at a building, that was smaller in size than Fairfield, and marvel at the grandeur, was amazing. We could only imagine how impressive a house Fairfield had been.

Brickwork at Bacon's Castle. Photo: Victoria Falcon

Brickwork and diagonal chimney stacks at Bacon’s Castle. Photo: Victoria Falcon

After a long workday on Thursday, we all agreed that it was worth the short drive to visit Rosewell. Rosewell suffered a fate similar to Fairfield and would burn in 1916. The ruins are Rosewell are much more intact than those of Fairfield and the structure has been preserved to a point in which the standing walls are stable enough that you can venture inside of the home. It had a haunting glory to it that I won’t soon forget.

Victoria Falcon is a senior completing a bachelor’s of fine art in studio art at University of Tennessee at Martin, with an emphasis in art history, and a bachelor’s of science in business management. Upon graduation she plans to attend graduate school to receive in her master’s in preservation. She hopes one day to work for a non-profit organization focusing on preservation.

Learn More

2016 Archaeology at Fairfield Sessions

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Mar Elian In Memory, and In Memorium

“Oh! So you don’t understand. I thought you were deaf”. These words  used to be the opening of an anecdote every time I recall my experience, in a peaceful place, once upon a time, in the middle of the Syrian Desert.

In March 2006, I joined the Syrian archaeological mission in the project of Deir Mar Elian (deir: monastry) in Al Qaryatain (literally: the two villages). At that time I was a freshly graduated architect, with some experience in archaeological documentation and excavation gathered through a couple of student jobs over few years. I used to recall, with enjoyment, the above words of the querwani (originally from Al Qaryatain) worker, who assisted me in measuring out in the field. He yelled several times, asking me to move, and I kept shouting “What?” After several exchanges of screaming between us, he stood up staring at me. He found out that I wasn’t deaf, or suffering from serious hearing problems (as he told me later). It was simply that I couldn’t understand a single word of his dialect. I used to recall the story with laughter; now my heart is hollow.

In May, this year, the so called ISIS attacked the town, a place where Muslims and Christians have long lived peacefully together. Men were killed, women and children kidnapped, and Father Jacques Mourad, the wholehearted priest of the monastery, was hold as a hostage. In August, the same group bulldozed the Monastery, which had been, for both Muslims and Christians in the village, a place to visit, as it is believed to be connected with healing miracles of Mar (Saint) Elian, known among Muslims as Sheikh Ahmad.

The Sarcophagus of Mar Elian. The metal charity box seen on the right of the picture, has on the lower part the cross and the light, on the upper part “Allah” . The word in Arabic, in both faiths, means “God”. Photo:  http://www.ibtimes.co.uk/syria-ancient-mar-elian-monastery-bulldozed-by-isis-was-interfaith-experiment-divided-country-1516518AG&tbm=isch&iact=rc&uact=3&dur=998&page=1&start=0&ndsp=15&ved=0CEoQrQMwDmoVChMI3MWLrLnfxwIVwUAUCh3I-gFs

The Sarcophagus of Mar Elian. The metal charity box seen on the right of the picture, has on the lower part the cross and the light, on the upper part “Allah” . The word in Arabic, in both faiths, means “God”. Photo: International Business Times

In 2001, a British project in the Monastery began its work directed by Emma Loosly. The work was followed later in a joint mission, managed from the Syrian part by Woroud Ibrahim. The most significant archaeological findings were the sarcophagus of Mar Elian and the small gate of the monastery, a door of the cloister of cedar wood decorated with animal and floral motifs dating back to the 7th century (now the National Museum of Damascus). Among the main objects that were found in the church are a cover of a relic box that was found under the floor of the sanctuary, as well as the graves of the monks, a cross and a bronze fibula, a glazed oil lamp made of clay, polychrome glass fragments, a comb made of bone, and fragments of embroidered garments.

The door of Deir Mar Elian (at the National Museum in Damascus). Photo: UNESCO

The door of Deir Mar Elian (at the National Museum in Damascus). Photo: UNESCO

While harsh weather and lack of resources deprived the querwanis of wealth, they bestowed them with kind-heartedness. The monastery itself is neither on any world heritage list, nor a famous tourist destination. Yet, for the locals, it was indeed significant, and any stranger, or curious visitor, was warmly welcomed.

The brutal destruction of the Monastery, is more than the loss of material evidence of the past, which had peacefully survived over 1500 years, shared and cherished by one group of people with two faiths. The destruction of the monastery is a rupture in the continuity of an inhabited, and lived, heritage, where stones and artefacts could not ever speak out for themselves, without the memories, stories and believes of people who were there.

In April 2006, the same year of my querwani stay, I took a short leave back home for my engagement party. When I came back to Al Qaryatain, a servant in the monastery asked me when my fiancé (today my husband) and I were planning to get married. I just laughed and said it’s a matter of mutual understanding. He immediately said “look, if things are not okay from the very beginning, he shall stay with his parents, and you stay with us!” Although things went okay, and we got married four months later, a small part of my heart did indeed stay there. Wishing to know that they safe. Wishing to see them, one day. Until then, Mar Elian will remain a story to tell. Once upon a memory….

Zeina Elcheikh, Syrian architect and planer, holds a M.Sc.in Integrated Urbanism from Stuttgart University. She worked with German International Cooperation and the French Institute for the Near East in Syria, and the UNESCO office in Egypt. Zeina is currently a PhD student at the Institute for History of Architecture, Stuttgart University. She is also a member of AiP’s Advisory Board.

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Swan Song to Summer: A Visit to Swannanoa in the Blue Ridge Mountains

A Gilded Age mansion built of gleaming white marble and decorated with sumptuous materials—including a 4,000 piece Tiffany stained glass window—sits at the juncture between Shenandoah National Park and the Blue Ridge Parkway. Overlooking Charlottesville, this surprising 52-room country estate built in the Italian Renaissance revival style in 1912 was intended as a gift to Sarah “Sallie” Dooley from her husband financier and philanthropist James Dooley.

Swannanoa mansion, photographer R. L. Hiserman. Courtesy Library of Virginia, Richmond.

Swannanoa mansion, photographer R. L. Hiserman. Courtesy Library of Virginia, Richmond.

It’s really not the kind of thing one usually sees on Skyline Drive or the parkway—National Park Service architecture, 19th century cemeteries, wildflowers and even bears are generally more common.

Swannanoa, named so for Sallie’s love for swans, is opened to visitors by owner Phil Dulaney for a few weekends during the warm weather months. The mansion is mostly empty, and there are corners of peeling paint and torn wallpaper and faded hand-painted flowers in the Breakfast Room. The Marquette floors are intact but the staircase to the tower is a bit iffy. My Dachsund Klaus doesn’t mind—he scampers up the steps for the view.

The grand staircase. Photo: Laura Macaluso

The grand staircase. Photo: Laura Macaluso

The primary house for the Dooleys is in Richmond; another large creation called Maymount, which today contains a bed built to look like a gliding swan, originally in Swannanoa.

Swannanoa is unique; it exists somewhere between living and dying. A team of 300 artisans—likely contingencies of European immigrants with the skills to carve fountains, lay herringbone patterned floors and paint walls—came to build the mansion at a cost of $2 million. The cost to preserve the mansion today would be many more millions. Perhaps tens of millions. Much more money than can be raised by selling a few house tour tickets. A visit is a fitting end to summer. After leaf peeping season passes, the house will be closed up, winter will set in, and Swannanoa will wait, like the rest of us, to see another spring.

The music room. Photo: Laura Macaluso

The music room. Photo: Laura Macaluso

Laura A. Macaluso is a Ph.D. candidate in the Humanities at Salve Regina University in Newport, RI. She is currently completing a book about the Portrait of Cinque/Sengbe, a painting from 1840 which depicts the leader of the Amistad mutiny, one of the few successful slave revolts in western history (AASLH/Rowman & Littlefield). She was a Fulbright Scholar to Swaziland in 2008-2010 and enjoys learning and writing about cultural heritage from across the globe.

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