Stephen Morris, who heads the international affairs office at the National Park Service, spoke to us on Monday, July 20. One of his jobs is to represent the U.S. at UNESCO World Heritage List proceedings. To be approved to the list, a site must have outstanding natural or cultural significance. For example, the Everglades, Statue of Liberty, and Grand Canyon are among the sites from the U.S. on the list. This year, after almost two decades without offering a nomination, the U.S. nominated Mount Vernon. This has been a bit controversial because they’re not doing it because of its ties to George Washington but as a good example of a period plantation; sites can’t make the list just because a famous person lived there.
The next day Kirk Cordell and Andy Ferrell from another NPS division, the National Center for Preservation Training and Technology, visited. There’s not a whole lot of testing of preservation treatments, so their group fills a critical role in the field. For example, Cordell told a story about a government issued gravestone cleaner issued to all military cemeteries in the U.S., no matter if they were in the Northeast, Florida, or Washington. The cleaner was wearing away inscriptions, and testing revealed it was twice as powerful as bleach. Afterward safer, more region-specific cleaners have been put into place.
They were back Wednesday to talk about preservation in the aftermath of disasters. Being based in Louisiana, they saw the devastation of Katrina firsthand. PI:N program director Marty Hylton and instructor Brian Robinson also did work in the Gulf Coast post-Katrina and shared their tragic stories and photos. It would be a tremendous waste if nothing is learned from the mistakes made before and after that storm. But not everything turned out for the worse. Hylton shared his experience of being part of team that advised an older woman to save her early 19th century home after many people inexperienced in preservation told her to junk it. Now she’s eternally grateful he came along that day.
The afternoons of the first three days of the week and Thursday were spent doing more Historic American Buildings Survey documentation at the Maria Mitchell House. The original plan was to document two complete rooms and two facades. Then it got down to one room and a facade. Now we’re just going to be able to finish a facade, which was already measured through photogrammetry, and one wall inside.
And Friday was another day spent at the Higginbotham House preparing an interior easement report.
I leave Nantucket on Saturday. It feels like it’s been so long because I’ve done so much since I left June 14, yet it feels so short because time really flew by.
Here are some random Nantucket pictures: