The Austin Sessions: Density and Preservation
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Written by Michael Amonett, President OOCCL at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, Austin

It is always nice to hear actual factual data that backs up why you feel so strongly about something.  That is what this session did for me.

Leading the conversation were Patrice Frey, Director of Sustainability for Project Green Lab with the National Historic Trust Foundation and Kathryn Rogers, Assistant Professor Dept. of Architecture at the University of Washington.  Some of the problems preservationists have with our 2 and 3-story historic resources are how do we deal with them when developers are offering 4 and 5-story to take their place and the additional taxable square footage they provide.  They offered quite a bit of facts to help make the case for our smaller historic buildings.  As we go forward these facts will prove helpful in the argument for preservation.

  • Small local creative businesses want to be in these buildings
  • Those businesses are more resilient in tough economic times
  • They make up “character neighborhoods” like North Oak Cliff
  • “Character neighborhoods” are what we will use to compete with our suburbs over time
  • Each neighborhood has its own scale
  • Millennials are seeking out these character neighborhoods based on their authenticity.
  • Density must be inserted in these character neighborhoods in a surgical way or these character areas may be ruined losing their value.


Restoration of Historic Kiest Park Pergola to Proceed
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At the Kiest Park Master Plan meeting tonight at Kiest Park, Councilman Dave Neumann announced plans for the Oak Cliff's historic park that included new sport facilities, restoration of trail heads and the restoration of the historic Kiest Park WPA pergola.  Funding for the pergola had been in question but now will proceed fully funded allowing plans to place the park on the National Registry to advance to the next level.  National historic recognition for the park was a priority for Friends of Oak Cliff Parks who log thousands of hours of volunteer time in our parks each year.  Thank you to everyone who signed the petition for the pergola and thank you Councilman Neumann.  

The Austin Sessions: In a City, the Past is Visible
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Written by Michael Amonett, President OOCCL at the National Trust for Historic Preservation Conference, Austin

Last night’s opening plenary at the Long Center in Austin was truly inspiring for somebody into preservation like me.  New Historic Trust for Preservation President, Stephanie Meeks spoke of the need for preservation to be three things accessible, visible and funded.  Preservation needs to start reflecting the true American experience and towards that end, include structures that matter to other communities as well; most notably the Hispanic and African-American community and preservationist should reach out to them.  Secondly, preservation runs hand in hand with environmental conservation and should be equally supported in the community by the public.  Adaptive re-use keeps landfills from filling up with old building materials while adding real dollars to local economies.  Austin brought in 1.4 million in tourism dollars last year in historic tourism alone.    Lastly, funding on a local, state and national level must be a part of any equation as well as creative partnerships with the private sector.


Middle school students of Tucson, Arizona were honored as the only school in their city that offered adaptive re-use for their old school rather than tearing it down and rebuilding a new one in a local contest.   The trip was a a reward for being tomorrow’s preservationists.

Next up was former First Lady and Honorary Chair of the Conference, Laura W. Bush.  Who knew we had such an advocate for preservation living right in Dallas.  Mrs. Bush spoke passionately and eloquently about the importance of being connected to one’s past. 

Elmwood Tour Home Owners Open Their House to Former Resident Who Grew Up There
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Elmwood residents Lauren and David Schneider, whose home was on this year's tour, opened their home to 74 year old Yvonne Fritz who lived in the home as a child. 

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