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  • Originally published 08/20/2013

    Part of Vasari Corridor roof collapses in Florence

    Emergency restoration work started today on a section of Florence’s famous Vasari Corridor, after some plaster and tiles fell from the roof on Friday. The damage occurred in the section of the raised corridor that passes next to the church of Santa Felicita, just over the Ponte Vecchio, on the south side of the river Arno.It is reported that no one was hurt, and museum professionals are already establishing the best course of action to restore the damage to the building. Around ten portraits have been removed from the walls as a precaution while restoration work begins, but the popular tourist site will remain open.Coincidentally, the same portion of the corridor was due to be closed most of next month while curators install a series of self-portraits of 20th-century and contemporary artists for an exhibition that is scheduled to open at the end of September....

  • Originally published 08/15/2013

    Saving Lahore’s fabled walled city

    Down the muddy monsoon-soaked path and through the towering red brick Delhi Gate of Lahore’s fabled walled city, there is an ambitious project to turn back decades of neglect and unchecked commercialization and save the city’s remaining treasures.The area is abuzz with labourers digging up the roads. Already, workers for the conservation project have demolished a cloth market and a line of shops that was built against a 17th-century mosque, damaging its facade and structure.For a city more than 1,000 years old, a powerful conservation effort of this kind – backed by political will, money and restoration expertise is critical....

  • Originally published 08/13/2013

    Sign by sign, history is told on London's walls

    LONDON — Not that it is unusual to see shabby old buildings being gutted by construction workers in a rapidly gentrifying area of east London like Hackney Road, but I felt a pang of regret when I spotted them starting work on one last week. I wasn’t concerned about its architecture, which is much the same as that of any of the other 19th-century terraced houses in the neighborhood, but about the signage.“To all responsible person” is painted in big black letters on the front of the building, and a description of a locksmith and safe maker is engraved on the side wall. “John Tann’s Reliance Locks, Fire & Burglarproof, Safes, Iron Doors,” it begins. Both signs have long outlived their usefulness: like the missing “s” at the end of “person,” Tann’s workshop disappeared decades ago.Will those signs survive the house’s renovation? I doubt it. The only reason they are still there is because the building has been neglected for so long, and was not deemed to be worth repairing or rebuilding until recently. Yet if the signs are removed, the neighborhood will be the poorer, having lost part of its character and some poignant symbols of its history....

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    WWII tanks roll in western France ... again

    SAUMUR, France – On a quiet Friday afternoon in western France, German Panzer tanks rolled out at a quick pace. They didn’t go unchallenged. They were met by British Stuart and American Sherman tanks, as well as some impressive armored vehicles that once packed plenty of firepower.That isn’t a description of a battle that happened 70 years ago, but of a mock battle that went down here on Friday and Saturday. It was a part of the annual two-day Carrousel de Saumur, the highlight of which was a 45-minute demonstration of tanks and armored vehicles on the big field at Ecoles Militaires de Saumur.... [Pics follow in original story]

  • Originally published 08/07/2013

    Anger over Bothwell Bridge battle site building plan

    A PLANNED housing development on the site of a 17th-century battlefield is an “insult” to the soldiers who lost their lives there, critics have said. Cala Homes wants to move a war memorial and build a multi-million-pound estate on Covenanters’ Field in Bothwell, Lanarkshire. There are plans for 15 homes on the site of the 1679 Battle of Bothwell Bridge.But the move has drawn fierce protests from objectors, who claim it would be an “act of desecration” at an important historic site.Ten objections have been lodged so far, with some from as far afield as the United States....

  • Originally published 08/03/2013

    Rescuing the farm where Wellington won the battle of Waterloo

    In an isolated corner of bucolic Belgium, down a dusty track that cuts through great fields of lettuce and shivering wheat, stands the farm that won Waterloo. Of the 170,000 people who visit the battlefield each year, few find their way to this particular spot. Fat wood pigeons coo undisturbed from the crumbling walls. The view across the miles of rolling fields over which Napoleon launched waves of attacks, is unspoilt by any building. The only sound of modern life is the faint roar of a motorway, hidden by a bank of trees.Hougoumont is largely unchanged from where, on Sunday June 18, 1815, it was the centre of action throughout the Battle of Waterloo. Of the tens of thousands who died that day, 6,500 men were killed, or suffered terrible injuries, at Hougoumont. Many were dumped in a mass grave there to deter thieves....

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Road through Roman history creates colossal headache

    ROME — Via dei Fori Imperiali, a multilane artery running through the heart of Rome, is typically a frenzy of swerving Vespas, zipping Smart cars and honking Fiat taxis.But Mayor Ignazio Marino is seeking to transform the avenue to something calmer, where Gucci loafers and sensible sneakers would rule.Mr. Marino’s plan to ban private traffic on the roadway, which bisects a vast archaeological site, from the central Piazza Venezia to the Colosseum, has prompted grousing and histrionic debate over a project that conservators say would solidify the world’s largest urban archaeological area.This being Rome, the first high-impact initiative of his seven-week-old administration, which goes into effect on Saturday, has provoked its share of unfavorable comparisons with the overweening ambitions of emperors past. “The mayor’s job is not to pass into history, but to work for his citizens,” said Luciano Canfora, a professor of classics at the University of Bari. “We already had Nero, that’s more than enough.”...

  • Originally published 08/02/2013

    Artifacts from Virginia-area museums in running for top 10 ‘endangered’ designation

    RICHMOND, Va. — At the William King Museum in the heart of Appalachia, a panel of 16 small paintings depicting water mills along the region’s landscape is deteriorating, and along with it, important chronicles of southwest Virginia’s rural culture.The series of canvases taped to flimsy wood paneling is flaking and curators at the Abingdon museum are hoping to conserve it through a program has helped some of those previously involved apply for grants and help with fundraising efforts....

  • Originally published 07/31/2013

    Library of Congress races to preserve TV history

    (CBS News) CULPEPER, Va. -- There are moments that define America, and the record of many of them are stored in a vault in Culpeper, Va.But these videotapes, some 50 years old, are deteriorating, and there is a race to preserve the history they contain."I think an important thing is to capture people's memories, to take people back to the day when they first saw Carol Burnett tug on her ear, or the day when Walter Cronkite couldn't hardly finish his sentence in November 1963, when Kennedy was shot," says Rob Stone, the Moving Image Curator of the Library of Congress....

  • Originally published 07/28/2013

    OKC Historian Fights To Save Old Film Exchange Building

    OKLAHOMA CITY - The fight to save an historic building downtown is beginning to gain some steam.The old Film Exchange building is set to be demolished, but a local historian is fighting to keep it. The plan is to make way for the new $130-million 70-acre central park planned downtown.There's a couple of things that the MAPS planning committee is going to want for this building to have a future. It has to work within the scope of the original plan, and somebody has to pay for it to be renovated.It's the beginning of what supporters believe could be a long fight to keep an historic piece of downtown Oklahoma City....

  • Originally published 07/22/2013

    Museum Relaunches Wooden Whaler Built in 1841

    MYSTIC, Conn. — A national historic landmark slowly slid into the water on Sunday, to cannon fire and the cheers of thousands of spectators on land and in boats.After nearly five years, about $7 million and a painstaking restoration by more than 60 people, the Charles W. Morgan, believed to be the last surviving wooden whaling vessel in the world, was again afloat — 172 years after its construction.“Once it’s floating, it’s alive again,” said Quentin Snediker, the director of the shipyard at the Mystic Seaport museum, who was in charge of the restoration....

  • Originally published 07/08/2013

    National Trust for Historic Preservation moving to Watergate

    WASHINGTON — The National Trust for Historic Preservation was looking for a building with a story to it, and it found one — the Watergate.In February, the trust — a nonprofit organization whose mission is to protect historical buildings — announced that it was selling its Dupont Circle headquarters, which was built in 1917 and once served as a luxury apartment building for the likes of then-Treasury Secretary Andrew W. Mellon.The search began for another historical building in town, and the group announced last month that it had settled on the Watergate office building, home to Washington’s most famous burglary....

  • Originally published 07/05/2013

    Alarm sounded over state of Italy's historic monuments

    ROME (AFP).- Alarm bells are ringing once more over the upkeep of Italy's historic monuments, from the Roman city of Pompeii to the Colosseum, with budget cuts hampering repairs and UNESCO issuing a stern rebuke."Over the last five years, the culture budget has been reduced by two thirds," Culture Minister Massimo Bray complained in an interview on Monday published in Italian newspapers.Italy is now lagging well behind its European counterparts: the country allocates just 1.1 percent of its budget to culture, compared to 7.4 percent in Ireland, 3.3 percent in Spain and 2.5 percent in France.The lack of funds is having a disastrous affect on the country's archaeological treasures, with many sites closed due to fears of rock collapses and others sporadically shut by protests and strikes....

  • Originally published 07/01/2013

    Manhattan Project park clears hurdle

    The campaign to create a national park dedicated to the once-top-secret Manhattan Project is moving through Congress, but supporters aren’t ready to declare victory just yet.“It is by no means a fait accompli,” says Nancy Tinker, senior field officer for the National Trust for Historic Preservation.Still it’s the closest the park has come yet to being a done deal.The U.S. House approved in June the $552.1 billion defense authorization bill, which included funds to establish the Manhattan Project National Historical Park, which would include sites in Oak Ridge, Los Alamos, N.M., and Hanford, Wash....

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    A Gettysburg battle plan: The field as it once was

    GETTYSBURG - During the monumental battle fought here 150 years ago, Powers Hill played a key role as a signal station and artillery position guarding the main route to Washington.Over time the fields turned to forest and few visitors made the short trek up the boulder-filled hill at the southeastern corner of Gettysburg National Military Park for the view.Because there wasn't one.Before last year you could not see the battlefield for the trees. Today, after trees have been clear-cut, a nonhistoric house demolished, and a small parcel of land purchased, a visitor can stand beside the boulders, look out across the Baltimore Pike clear over to Culp's Hill and understand exactly what was at stake."Seeing the landscape as soldiers saw it is paramount to understanding the battle," said Garry Adelman, director of history and education at the nonprofit group Civil War Trust and a licensed battlefield guide for 20 years....

  • Originally published 06/25/2013

    James Ruddick: History? Culture? Send for the Bulldozers

    James Ruddick is the author of several books including Death at the Priory, nominated for a Non-Fiction Edgar Award in the US. He has worked in radio and television as a broadcast journalist.Only in England could this happen: in a few days' time a judicial review will decide whether the countryside immediately surrounding Anne Hathaway's Cottage in Stratford-upon-Avon can be torn up to make way for a new housing estate. No, seriously.The local government minister, Eric Pickles, has already ruled in favour of the development, backing Bloor Homes, and unless his decision is reversed, which few expect, one of the most popular heritage sites in Europe will be swamped by 800 new houses - not half a mile away, not even down the road, but rammed so tightly against its sides and rear that the tourists will find the little thatched building garlanded by satellite dishes, chrome barbecues and washing lines. Mr Pickles agreed that there were "material considerations weighing against the development", including "the harm to heritage assets". But he rubber-stamped it anyway.

  • Originally published 05/28/2013

    Granville Automatic works to save Civil War battlefield sites

    ATLANTA — Atlanta band Granville Automatic is preparing to release a music video filmed at an ice cream shop on the site of the 1864 battle that left the city in flames during the Civil War.The project is part of an effort to raise awareness about Civil War battlefields across the country, focusing particularly on those that lack the fame of places such as Gettysburg.The 150th anniversary of the war has led to renewed interest in preserving the battlefields and protecting them from development, said Mary Koik, a spokeswoman for the Washington-based Civil War Trust....Granville Automatic partnered with the trust to produce a collection of songs about Civil War history across the nation. In “Copenhill,” the song about the Atlanta battle, lyrics recall how the city was burned by Union Gen. William T. Sherman’s federal army: “Burn, burn, burn till the flames hit the sky ...”...

  • Originally published 05/13/2013

    Inside 70-year-old Paris apartment

    Caked in dust and full of turn-of-the century treasures, this Paris apartment is like going back in time.Having lain untouched for seven decades the abandoned home was discovered three years ago after its owner died aged 91.The woman who owned the flat, a Mrs De Florian, had fled for the south of France before the outbreak of the Second World War.She never returned and in the 70 years since, it looks like no-one had set foot inside....

  • Originally published 05/01/2013

    SD tribe faces deadline, $4.9M price to block development near Wounded Knee massacre site

    SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — A small patch of prairie sits largely unnoticed off a desolate road in southwestern South Dakota, tucked amid gently rolling hills and surrounded by dilapidated structures and hundreds of gravesites — many belonging to Native Americans massacred more than a century earlier.The assessed value of the property: less than $14,000. The seller’s asking price: $4.9 million.Tribal members say the man who owns a piece of the Wounded Knee National Historic Landmark on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is trying to profit from their suffering. It was there, on Dec. 29, 1890, that 300 Native American men, women and children were killed by the 7th Cavalry in the final battle of the American Indian Wars....

  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    An Argentine Tradition Threatens to Crumble With City Architecture

    BUENOS AIRES — As Concepción Martínez, her husband and two daughters pulled into the last subway station here, cheers and clapping erupted from the throngs of people, some wearing turn-of-the-20th-century dress, waiting on the platform.Camera flashes lighted the tunnels as passengers took their final rides in the saloonlike wagons — with their wooden benches, frosted glass lamps and manually operated brass doors — of South America’s first subway line.“Every day, I ride this train into work, so this is a kind of goodbye,” Ms. Martínez said.The antique Belgian-built cars, a symbol of Buenos Aires’s early-20th-century wealth, were taken out of service this year, and their retirement is a poignant example of the city’s struggle to preserve its physical history as some of its icons and infrastructure crumble....

  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    Building comes down for Fredericksburg restoration

    Usually, people try to restore castles.But in Spotsylvania County, the “castle”—as some call a local fixture on State Route 3—is being demolished.The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust is razing the old “Stars and Bars” military surplus store on the Chancellorsville battlefield.The massively built structure—with twin turrets, battlements and a façade of brick and block—stands in the way of restoring the land to its May 1863 appearance....

  • Originally published 04/07/2013

    Preservationists protesting Postal Service's efforts to sell old buildings, cut losses

    The financially strapped U.S. Postal Service is running into opposition from historic preservationists as the agency tries to cut losses by selling off buildings.The postal service lost $15.9 billion last year, after losing $5.1 billion in 2011 -- as online services continue to replace money-making mail deliveries.Hundreds of post offices are on the National Register of Historic Places, which largely protects them from being demolished, or are protected under deals with new owners....

  • Originally published 04/01/2013

    Plan to sell Wounded Knee site

    WOUNDED KNEE, S.D. — Ever since American soldiers massacred men, women and children here more than a century ago in the last major bloodshed of the American Indian wars, this haunted patch of rolling hills and ponderosa pines has embodied the combustible relationship between Indians and the United States government.It was here that a group of Indian activists aired their grievances against the government with a forceful takeover in 1973 that resulted in protests, a bloody standoff with federal agents and deep divisions among the Indian people.And now the massacre site, which passed into non-Indian hands generations ago, is up for sale, once again dragging Wounded Knee to the center of the Indian people’s bitter struggle against perceived injustice — as well as sowing rifts within the tribe over whether it would be proper, should the tribe get the land, to develop it in a way that brings some money to the destitute region....

  • Originally published 03/28/2013

    Berlin Wall section removed despite protests

    Construction workers backed by German police have removed a section of the Berlin Wall to make way for a building project, despite calls for the historic site to be preserved.Residents expressed shock at the removal of the East Side Gallery, as that section is known, which followed a series of protests, including one attended by the actor David Hasselhoff.A police spokesman, Alexander Tönnies, said there were no incidents as work had begun at about 5am to take down four sections of the wall, each about 1.2 metres wide, to make way for an access route to the planned high-rise luxury flats along the Spree river....

  • Originally published 03/25/2013

    Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore: False Historical Consciousness

    Clarissa Sebag-Montefiore is an editor at Time Out Beijing.BEIJING — My courtyard home in the heart of old Beijing has a view of the Drum Tower, which for centuries helped citizens keep track of the time.The tower still rolls its drums daily for tourists. But over the past few weeks a different rumbling could be heard in the public square where it stands: the sound of sledgehammers knocking down surrounding buildings.For years, the government has proposed leveling the zone around the Drum Tower and the neighboring Bell Tower, known in Chinese as Gulou and Zhonglou, respectively. In 2010, local media reported that except for the two towers, the area, a maze of snaking hutong alleyways and ramshackle courtyard homes, would be demolished to make way for a new “Beijing Time Cultural City” and underground mall.That did not come to pass. But in late 2012, the government posted new notices ordering local businesses and residents to vacate by Feb. 24. My home, which is one hutong down from the square, will be spared, but dozens are slated for destruction. Many residents have already left; those who have stayed are demanding more compensation....

  • Originally published 03/22/2013

    Dreams of saving Art Deco Havana

    HAVANA — Kathleen Murphy Skolnik gasped one recent morning as she gazed up into the stairwell of a 1939 downtown apartment building here and pointed at the chevron pattern in the ironwork, at the unpolished rust-pink marble and a simple alcove on the stairway crowned by a stepped arch.“It’s so beautiful,” said Ms. Skolnik, an architectural historian who lives in Chicago. “And it’s so run-down.”Ms. Skolnik’s words serve as an unofficial motto for the rich, wide-ranging and often neglected buildings that, experts say, make Cuba one of the world’s most significant but overlooked troves of Art Deco architecture. As some 250 Cuban and foreign connoisseurs gathered last week in Havana for the World Congress on Art Deco, there was hope the event would foster wider recognition of the island’s Art Deco heritage and the urgent need to preserve it. (The gathering, of the World Congress of the International Coalition of Art Deco Societies, ends on Thursday.)...

  • Originally published 03/20/2013

    Afghanistan moves to salvage ancient Buddhist city

    It had the potential to be another Afghanistan Buddha disaster, recalling the Taliban’s destruction of two ancient statues that had stood for centuries in this country’s west: A buried Buddhist city lost to time was about to be obliterated by what promised to be one of the largest copper mines in the world.Now, however, thanks to delays in construction of the massive mine and a hefty influx of cash from the World Bank, the 1.5-square-mile Mes Aynak complex is an archaeological triumph – though bittersweet.An international team of archaeologists and more than 550 local laborers are now frantically excavating what turns out to be a unique window into Afghanistan’s role on the ancient Silk Road connecting China and India with the Mediterranean.With its Buddhist city, a ring of perhaps a half-dozen monasteries and a striking complex of workshops and mine shafts built into a high mountain ridgeline at an altitude of 8,200 feet, the site shows the interplay of Buddhism, mining and trade during the years it was in operation, now thought to be from the fifth to the late eighth centuries....

  • Originally published 03/11/2013

    Deal is near to shift traffic out of Manassas battlefield park

    The National Park Service and Virginia authorities are close to signing a major Civil War battlefield preservation deal that eventually would close two congested roads that slice through the twice-hallowed ground at Manassas.The agreement, which could be signed by the summer, would provide for routes 234 and 29 to be shut down inside Manassas National Battlefield Park. That would happen once new highways are built along the western and northern edges of the battlefield and serve as bypasses.“We’re down to the wire here. It looks good,” said Ed Clark, the park superintendent, a key architect of the pact. “It puts the goal of removing all the traffic from the battlefield within sight.”...

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Are mod. buildings worth preserving?

    Even with its glistening emerald-green glass, the boxy 1960s-era Zalco Building in downtown Silver Spring is hardly noticed by many passersby, let alone thought of as a historic structure.The very idea makes John Cranston, the building’s engineer, chuckle. “I don’t think George Washington slept here or anything,” he said.But to Clare Lise Kelly, a historic-preservation planner for Montgomery County, and to other architectural experts, the office building at Georgia Avenue and Cameron Street is a shining example of International style. It’s time, they say, for it and other “mid-century modern” buildings and homes — those with sleek, boxy designs from the 1950s and 1960s — to be considered for historic preservation....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Warsaw plans to bulldoze quaint wooden homes outages residents, mobilizes Finnish ambassador

    WARSAW, Poland — Nearby the big city rumbles, but one feels almost transported to a quiet forest village when standing amid a colony of Finnish wooden houses in Warsaw’s government district.The homes, erected as temporary housing in the destroyed capital just after World War II, have dwindled over the years from 90 to about 25. Now the surviving structures have become a point of contention between their inhabitants and a city government keen on tearing them down to make way for new developments.It’s a story being played out in various ways in Warsaw these days, as the Polish capital undergoes a building boom that makes new constructions lucrative for developers and attractive to city officials eager to put their mark on the city. But such change often comes at the cost of old buildings of historical or sentimental value to others....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Demolition of Gettysburg Cyclorama building begins

    GETTYSBURG, Pa. (AP) — Demolition work has begun on the Cyclorama building at the Gettysburg National Military Park that used to house the 377-foot painting depicting a pivotal moment in the Civil War battle.Workers began tearing down the building last week, and park superintendent Bob Kirby told The (Hanover) Evening Sun that the demolition is scheduled to be completed by the end of April.The park service has planned to tear down the building since 1999 but the architect’s son and a preservation group opposed the decision, and a court battle ensued that lasted more than three times the length of the Civil War. A court-ordered study last year concluded that demolition was the best course of action....

  • Originally published 03/05/2013

    Jackson arm amputation site preserved

    The place is rich in legend, and now it’s safe for future generations.The Central Virginia Battlefields Trust has acquired 81 acres along State Route 3 in Spotsylvania where doctors tried to save Lt. Gen. Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson, wounded by his troops in a “friendly fire” mishap.Dr. Hunter McGuire (the namesake of today’s Veterans Administration hospital in Richmond) amputated the Confederate leader’s left arm, hit in two places.“It all happened right here,” says Jerry H. Brent of Fredericksburg, the trust’s executive director. “This was part of the Wilderness Tavern site, on both sides of the road. With the corps’ field hospital in operation, there were hundreds of soldiers in tents or milling about, and wagons coming and going.”...

  • Originally published 02/21/2013

    Frank Lloyd Wright homes saved

    PHOENIX -- The buildings stretch from 11th Avenue to 52nd Street and include five homes and one church all designed by famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright, and all are part of a new plan by the Phoenix Historic Preservation Commission.The proposed plan, which would cost $1.2 million, was created after a home Wright designed for his son in the Arcadia area narrowly escaped demolition. A developer bought the land and planned to tear down the 2,500 square foot concrete house and build two new houses in its place....

  • Originally published 02/19/2013

    Curious Case of Lincoln Birthplace

    Abraham Lincoln was born in a log cabin near present-day Hodgenville, Kentucky, on February 12, 1809; and the curious case of his well-traveled birthplace cabin is a historical labyrinth of veneration, profit seeking, confused identity, and cross-pollination with historic relics from the Confederate States of America. Could it be that those Lincoln Logs you played with as a child were really Jeff Davis logs?...

  • Originally published 02/12/2013

    Landowner voices reservations about proposed study

    A bill to appropriate $250,000 for archaeological and historical surveys in the Killdeer Mountains battlefield area before oil wells are developed drew widespread support Thursday, until the owner of the land testified.The Senate Government and Veterans Affairs Committee took no action on SB2341 following nearly two hours of testimony.Sen Rich Wardner, R-Dickinson, one of the prime sponsors of the bill, said the area, which was the site of a battle between the U.S. Army and numerous American Indian tribes in July 1864, should be studied before more oil exploration is allowed....

  • Originally published 02/04/2013

    Jutland survivor to get a facelift

    It is the last remaining survivor of the 1916 Battle of Jutland with its glory days far behind it.But now, the future of this historically significant war ship looks decidedly brighter.HMS Caroline has been given a grant of £1million for urgent repairs.The vital money will pay for work that will prevent further decay to the Belfast-based light cruiser while plans are finalised for its long-term future in the city.Works will include making the ship wind and water tight and incorporate the removal of dangerous asbestos while the ship is in situ and afloat....

  • Originally published 01/25/2013

    Who will save Rome's ruins in cash-strapped Italy?

    When archaeologists announced the discovery of the tomb of Marcus Nonius Macrinus in Rome in 2008, the find was heralded as the most important in decades. Built in the shape of a temple, with tall fluted columns and an intricately carved sarcophagus, it was the final resting place for the Roman general who served as inspiration for Russell Crowe‘s character in the movie Gladiator, unearthed a the site of a planned housing project some 1,800 years after its construction.In contrast, the December 2012 announcement regarding the tomb was much more muted. Italy’s cash-strapped ministry of culture declared it was unable to find the several million euros that would be required to protect the ruins and turn them into a tourist attraction. Instead, the Gladiator’s Tomb, as the site has come to be known, would likely have to be buried once again....

  • Originally published 01/18/2013

    Saving old Rangoon

    AS WE SIT IN YANGON peak-hour traffic, Thant Myint-U is conjuring a golden age. The eminent Burmese historian, academic and former United Nations official has devoted much of the last two years to saving the city's spectacular architecture. Despite the gridlock as we slowly nudge through its colonial heart, we couldn't be better placed to recall the glories of old Rangoon (as Yangon was once known). It's difficult to remember today, thanks to nearly five decades of Myanmar's political isolation under brutal military rule, but there was a time when it was one of the jewels of the British Empire.

  • Originally published 01/17/2013

    Plan to bulldoze courtyard homes for 18th-century-style square in Beijing

    BEIJING — In a corner of old Beijing, the government may soon be both destroying history and remaking it.District officials want to re-create a piece of China’s glorious dynastic past by rebuilding a square near the Drum and Bell towers in 18th-century Qing Dynasty fashion. To do it, they will demolish dozens of scuffed courtyard homes that preservationists say have themselves become a part of a cultural history that is fast disappearing as construction transforms the capital.Because of relatively recent renovation, few of the homes can claim to be more than a few decades old. But they are in crooked alleyways known as “hutongs,” which formed around courtyard houses and date back centuries....

  • Originally published 01/16/2013

    A Fight Over Historic Preservation Brews in Art Deco Country

    MIAMI BEACH — When South Beach was little more than a forlorn chunk of beachfront property, preservationists clung to the idea that the faded, often derelict pastel buildings lining the streets were too precious to knock down.Their campaign to preserve the area’s fanciful Art Deco buildings ushered in one of the country’s most successful urban revivals. Years later, South Beach is still a juggernaut.Preservationists are now pushing hard to bolster historic preservation laws, a move that has ruffled wealthy property owners (and potential buyers) and stepped up pressure on local commissioners who are reluctant to wade into the politically precarious battle....

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