Archive for October, 2008


October 29, 2008

This isn’t Larry Clark’s Tulsa, although the few denizens of the windswept downtown recall the subjects of that epochal photography book. This is the Tulsa of historic preservationists and architectural historians, and five days there produced a herd of precious insights, small delights and the occasional belly laugh. It was here we had the National Preservation Conference and it was here we sampled the felicities of architectural child prodigy Bruce Goff and I praised the preservation of Barry Byrne’s Christ the King church which had an integrity and vibrancy exceeding most of the sites I saw. We danced to Asleep At The Wheel, as some Oklahoman was when they named a chain of gas station mini-marts “Kum ‘n Go.”

Again I got to join the Saturday architectural excursion with the cool kids – Brad White, Will Tippens, Shannon Wasielewski, Jack Rubens – who have allowed me to come along on their Saturday excursios before – notably 2006 to Kentuck Knob and Fallingwater. This time we had Joel Burns(Fort Worth), Dan Everhart(Boise), and Rob Saarnio(Hawaii). Rob has been on other trips and Joel may have too – I missed last year’s adventure across the Wisconsin border to score cheese curds. Our secret ingredient this year was Sam’s List – a list prepared by Sam Guard, one of Chicago’s best-kept architectural secrets and a friend for the last decade or so. Bartlesville became more than Frank Lloyd Wright’s Price Tower (although that alone is worth the trip) with Sam’s list.

We saw the 1961 Frischette House, an in-line ranch by Goff that Sam had ranked the highest, with a roof ridge skylight running the length of the house from the porte cochere to the two-level living room. The exterior is a series of blocks that suggest the rooms within and the owner described its tintinnabulations in thunderous weather she somehow let us in and somehow we went in.

We found a fabulous streamline Deco 1939 High School in Bartlesville, and Goff’s playful Play Tower.

The highlight was the “tree that escaped the forest,” the Price Tower, Frank Lloyd Wright’s only highrise, half apartments and half office and the luxuriance of its detailing in both material (copper) and design (horizontal louvers for the residential side, vertical for the office) made it a wonder – the usuall cramped Wrightian spaces (especially the elevator) and the typical modernist disdain for client needs, but absolutely drop-dead gorgeous from the leaky butted glass corners to the triangular garbage cans and drain grates. This is a good building, and the planned Zaha Hadid addition is unnecessary (the intro video runs the animation fly-through three times too many.

We saw the Redeemer Lutheran Sunday School, bejeweled with sharp massive boulders of glass, cutworthy cullets that made it seem like a child’s art classroom project, but it has the repose of great architecture despite its frivolity because somehow Goff makes it sincere and engaging. Somehow. That is the word for Goff – somehow. You can’t make sense of it by describing it because only he could make sense of it by building it.

Encountering the Conner House in Dewey was like finding a Ferrari in a yard full of abandoned school buses – a regular town with regular, banal houses and then a shallow-peaked ranch composed of diamonds with massive beams extending over the driveway suspended from Goffian masts. Rolf told me today this building is for sale.

The day ended among the bison and bluestem of the Great Tallgrass Prairie and the complete but nearly empty historic town of Pawhuska. Physical pleasures may Kum-‘n-Go but architecture – thanks to preservation – is a lasting passion.


House Museums and Ultimate Use

October 24, 2008

During the National Preservation Conference for the last many years, Fridays are the busiest day, beginning at 7:15 AM with breakfast with the Site Council Chairs and Trust President Dick Moe. I represent both the Gaylord Building and the Farnsworth House. The former has a decent endowment while the latter does not, and of course the economic climate was at the top of the agenda for all 29 of the Trust sites.

Gaylord Building 2004

This is always a fascinating meeting, especially since the Kykuit Conference, where the Trust sites took the “beyond the velvet ropes” step, encouraging Boards and staff at historic sites to go beyond the “museum” model for historic houses. This is of course a great interest of mine as readers of this blog will know. I have been proposing to the Trust for several years the idea of a national database of all historic sites that could be used for corporate meetings, institutional retreats, filming, and a whole variety of events. These things all happen of course on an individual Trust property level, but a national database – perhaps licensed to other sites as well – could be a powerful funding tool.

The historic house museum, based on tourism and ticket sales, has NEVER made sense in all of history, unless the tickets are very high in price (Biltmore), or an incredible number of tourists are pushed through (Fallingwater), or a gift shop regularly trebles the income per visitor versus ticket sales (Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio). The Gaylord Building has relied on its endowment, even though it has a paying tenant (the Public Landing Restaurant). The Farnsworth House is working on merchandising, as well as offering more expensive “restoration tours.”

Speaking of which, Joan Mercuri explained to me the thinking at Robie House, which is taking the strange and unusual step of closing completely to try to complete the last $5 million of their restoration. Joan explained that many visitors were upset that they couldn’t see certain things during restoration. She also stressed that some of the decisions regarding how many tours would be available – once a week this coming year, and none from November ’09 to April ’10 – were not final and they would possibly open more. She also talked about cell phone tours, which are a growing media for heritage tourism and interpretation. So that made some sense, and obviously there are lots of hard feelings among docents, but I haven’t read the Hyde Park Herald so I don’t understand the infighting. If it were up to me, I would still be more open during the restoration – that is what we are doing at Farnsworth – but it isn’t up to me. I suppose you could do exterior tours during intensive interior renovation. That will essentially be the situation at the Farnsworth House during certain points in the rehab. At Robie House that is an even more obvious strategy, since like Farnsworth, much of the design brilliance is visible from the exterior.

The other fascinating aspect of being at the Site Councils meetings at the National Trust is the Trust’s wise commitment to recognizing the end of the house museum as we know it. They have changed Boards who couldn’t see that end, and they will continue to do so. Sites will look for new types of community outreach and development and measure success not based on visitors but a more comprehensive assessment. Most importantly, we hope to show the rest of the nation that some sites have to transition – become private sites again as they once were. There are too many house museums, a fact the Trust recognized almost a decade ago. I’m glad we are being creative at the Farnsworth House and I am glad the Gaylord Building was ALWAYS an adaptive re-use project with a commercial component. Because that is the only preservation that is sustainable.

What’s Going On At Robie House?

October 18, 2008

THE BLOG BELOW IS FROM OCTOBER 2008. The issues described below have been fully and completely resolved and the restored Robie House is MORE open for tours than ever before. FOR CURRENT INFORMATION ON ROBIE HOUSE, GO HERE.

October 2008 blog begins here:

Last week, Blair Kamin reported in the Trib on two of the iconic house museums that draw tourists from all over the world. I am involved, through both Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust, in the Farnsworth House. After the devastating flood last month, tours were abruptly cancelled, even as people arrived in Chicago from every corner of the world to see the house. We gathered, brainstormed, and decided to allow tours again, through the restoration. These tours will cost more – a rare chance to see “Farnsworth House with a black eye” as Landmarks Illinois’ Jim Peters said.

Opening a house museum during renovation makes sense. I saw Montpelier during its rehab a couple of years ago and loved it. The rehabilitation action actually ADDS interest to the tour and can, as at Farnsworth House, command a premium. You won’t see it this way again.

The pattern was set more than 20 years ago at the Frank Lloyd Wright Home and Studio, where a massive restoration to the building’s 1909 appearance – including digging a foundation for the Studio – took place without tours ever stopping.

Which makes the second part of Kamin’s story a massive mystery. Robie House, the iconic triumph of Frank Lloyd Wright’s Prairie School, is undergoing restoration and they are cutting tours to Saturdays only – starting in November, and then shutting it ENTIRELY from November 2009 to April 2010. This makes no sense on the face of it, especially since Robie House is operated by the same group that did the Home and Studio restoration – the Frank Lloyd Wright Preservation Trust.

It can’t be a pure revenue move – you can schedule all sorts of high-end exclusive events without stopping tours. We had Brad Pitt filming a jeans commercial at the Farnsworth House and we had Johnny Depp doing a movie at the Gaylord Building this summer.

Kamin reports that the docents are upset, and this provides the only clue as to the logic behind the move. There is talk of automated tours. Again, given the FLW Preservation Trust’s reliance on docents in Oak Park, this doesn’t make sense. The only plausible explanation is that they want to replace the docents, so they need to shutter the place, just like the Berghoff shut down for a while to ditch its union employees.

The move could backfire – the Wright mania that has driven a commercial empire of Prairie styled goods for the last 25 years can’t last forever. The junk may stop selling, but the tourism draw is permanent – especially European and Asian interest in the origin of modernism. The FLW Preservation Trust knows that – the lion’s share of Oak Park visitors are foreign. Robie House, Unity Temple, Crown Hall and the Farnsworth House are essential for any architecture buff who cares about the last century. Tours on Saturdays only doesn’t make sense on the face of it. Why freeze out Hans from Lubeck and Yukie from Sapporo, not to mention Joe the Plumber?

Maybe the foreigners buy less junk so they need to host more private parties. Maybe the Graduate School of Business is looking at Robie House like the Latin School looks at Lincoln Park. After all, the U of C still owns it. Still, the docent angle remains the most plausible explanation for an illogical move. I’ll try to find out more next week at the National Preservation Conference.

2009 UPDATE: See the update blog from August 2009 Time Tells.


October 16, 2008

Kenilworth, Illinois is a lovely suburb on the North Shore of Chicago with the world’s largest collection of George Maher Prairie houses and a cornucopia of other architectural and planning delights. It also made the National Trust’s Most Endangered List because of teardowns. That is rare notoriety in a nation beset with teardowns. You gotta have something goin’ on to be one of the eleven most endangered sites in the United States.

So, the village came up with a clever plan: list the town on the National Register of Historic Places. This adds NO regulation to homeowners and provides NO protection against teardowns, but addresses the media embarassment. It also would allow ONLY THOSE HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO to take advantage of the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze program. Upside without a downside.

A clever political solution, but it still encountered some of the most vociferous opposition ever. Why? Apparently they see the National Register as a first step toward local designation. While that could be true in Oak Park, it isn’t true on the North Shore. Wilmette listed two districts on the National Register and passed a law requiring a super majority of 75% of homeowners should Wilmette dare to try for local designation. Kenilworth has passed a similar law barring itself from pursuing local designation. Besides, it is a completely separate action requiring a completely separate political process. National Register designation offers NO SHORTCUTS to local designation. Getting local designation would still require the SAME political process it would without National Register designation.

But that wasn’t enough for the Kenilworth opposition who can see a slippery slope even on flat dry ground. (By the way, they need a cute name – when Winnetka went through this a generation ago, the opposition — funded by a major real estate developer — was called WHOA – Winnetka Homeowners Association, I think. Maybe they could be Kenilworth Opposition (KO), or Tenacious Kenilworth Opposition (TKO), or Kenilworth Protests Against Conservation (KPAC) or even Kenilworth Teardowns Embrace Liberty (K-Tel).)

So there was a League of Women Voters Forum with Wilmette preservation chair Kevin Kirkpatrick, architectural historian Susan Benjamin, myself, Village Clerk Bob Hastings and National Park Service jefe Paul Loethar to explain this. Kirkpatrick did the best, explaining that there is NO prohibition against demolition or alteration caused by National Register designation and NO cause-and-effect with local designation. He had a good analogy: Just because you go to high school doesn’t mean you need to go to college. And just because you want to avoid college, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t graduate from high school.

When I was asked why we didn’t talk about the downside of National Register designation I offered the only downside I could think of: “It would make it more difficult for the federal government to put an airport in the middle of town.” And that is true – it wouldn’t be impossible, but more difficult (and expensive). Upon reflection, I thought of some more examples. Remember, ONLY FEDERAL GOVERNMENT PROJECTS can be reviewed under National Register listing.

National Register designation will make it more difficult for the Federal Government to put any of the following uses in the Kenilworth Historic District:

Public housing project
Urban renewal (requires slum and blighted designation)
New subsidized housing projects
Interstate highway
Federal prison
Military base or munitions plant
Harbor or canal project
FBI training facility/shooting range
Federal office building
Construction of FEMA trailer encampment for flood victims

Is KPAC pursuing any of these for their homes? If so, that would explain their opposition. Otherwise, their logic is whack.

Added thought: National Register would also trigger state review, so if the state were to try to place a state facility in the historic district, there would be a review. I will let the homeowners decide which state facilities have the potential of replacing their homes with other uses.

the new modernity

October 12, 2008

The great American modernist architect Barry Byrne commiserated with his Bauhaus colleague Lyonel Feininger in 1926 that the term “modern” was inaccurate and unfortunate. Within a decade the “modern” revolt against style had itself become a style and Byrne and Feininger were proved right. What does “modern” mean when the word connotes the latest thing but has been used to describe such trends for a century? We can use the word “contemporary” to distinguish between current design trends and the “modern” movement of the 20th century, but the problem with both terms is that they slide over time – they are fancy ways of saying “now” and thus are awkward when we make them mean “then.”

Historic preservation is one result of the collision between tradition and modernity. As traditions and traditional things become obsolete, we desire to preserve them. It is an impulse with expressions as diverse as Mount Vernon and Farm Aid. The advent of “globalization” in the 1990s caused much hand-wringing, although historians and economists might argue that globalization is contemporaneous with modern capitalism, dating to the late 18th century creation of the joint-stock corporation. Preservation has similar roots and a similar timeline – it is a product of the Enlightenment.

But as much as I like to poo-poo claims of paradigm shifts, I think we are in one, or perhaps even exiting one. It is a form of globalization, but it is bigger than that. It is the end of the Enlightenment, or perhaps the fulfillment of the Enlightenment’s metaphilosophy, which had to do with the idea that people had rights like liberty, equality and fraternity, and that these rights were automatic: not conferred by social rank or faith community.

The immediate products of that philosophical revolution were the then-modern ideas of the nation-state, ethnic identity, and heritage (which includes preservation). These ideational products were put to the use of crafting industrial society. They provided urban society with the necessary tribalisms the rural world used as social glue. The demise of traditional, agricultural, village-based adynamic society and the creation of modern, industrial, urban alien nations, notions, and nightclubs required transitional structures. The nation, ethnic identity and heritage – an appropriation of history – filled the bill.

But these ideas – nations, ethnicity, heritage – that were so useful in convincing people to leave the safe circumscription of tradition for the leveraged uncertainty of modernity, took on a life of their own. They became institutions and agents of change in history, notably in a couple of large wars in the 20th century. So where are we now?

The NY Times had an article this year about an exhibit in Stockholm, Sweden of “war booty” – items captured from Poles and Lithuanians and Russians in battles well over 200 years ago. Sweden has managed to sit out of all wars since the Enlightenment, but the exhibit raised the usual questions of repatriation of artifacts, yet it was intelligent and involved enough that it noted there is a problem with repatriation – where do you stop? If Charles Augustus looted Prague and stole treasures that Karl I looted from Italy, including treasures that Domitian looted from Illyrians who took them in turn from Ephesians, who crafted them from booty taken from the Scythians or Hurrians, where do you stop? The article put a period in 1815 and the Congress of Vienna, which established the “modern” idea of reparations. That doesn’t stop the Greeks from demanding the Parthenon marbles that Lord Elgin took – under contract – in 1805. Or the Turks from demanding the Pergamom altar from Berlin, even though the altar never looked anything like it does now and is really more a relic of early 20th century German archaeology than it is of Turkey, or rather the Greco-Romans who built it in what is now Turkey, a nation fully 85 years old. Repatriation is a legal idea, which is to say a logical idea but it deals with history, which is not logical. History deals with dates but dates can’t make it logical or legal, because there is always another date.

Preservation deals with the endlessness of dates through the idea of stewardship – none of us are owners, we are all merely actors in time and we will pass too, but if we are good stewards we will not simply pass we will pass on. Of course, the British Museum uses the idea of stewardship to keep the Elgin marbles, which they contend are safer where they are. (they would rather you overlooked the disastrous damage done in 1938 when they tried to clean them.)

In 1066 the Normans, who were French, but 200 years earlier had been Vikings (Norsemen), conquered the English, who were Germans (sort Frisians by that point, with the words falling to the front of the mouth) who had arrived within the last 400 years, displacing Romanized Celts, who had displaced Britons who had displaced Picts and the evidence stops there but doubtless the story does not. History is messy that way: no endpoints, no final owners, no first causes – it just keeps on going. Archaeologists in China race to find older and older artifacts so they can claim some civilizational primacy. I understand the boasting – when I spent Summer 2005 in Krems, Austria, I liked to boast about the Krems Diana, an older (and svelter) fertility figurine than the nearby Venus of Willendorf, much more famous. But that is like saying a 12-year old Glenlivet is better than a 10-year old Talisker, which it most certainly is not. Age is deceptive: the numbering of time is not the same as the numbering of quantity. Rules of advanced mathematics do not apply.

The ideas that fall apart when you apply history are these lovely Enlightenment ideas we used to get people off the farms – heritage, nation, ethnicity. None of those ideas are needed in traditional village life because there is only ONE heritage, nation or ethnicity. In the midst of modernity, people need a sense of identity and heritage, nation and ethnicity provided that. But they are artificial intellectual ideas (yes, I know they have great agency – I’m getting to that) with no basis in history or biology. The human genome project basically uncovered that most of the people on the British Isles were like 90% the same, despite their “ethnic” and religious differences.

Now Kosovars and Tutsis and Palestinians and Tamils and Armenians and Chams and many others will disagree, pointing to wars and genocides and persecutions they have suffered based on their ethnicity, heritage or nationality, and this is true. Despite the fact that these distinctions are not biological and despite the fact that their historical roots are generally shallow and dilute, these ideas have incredible agency and have caused mobs and leaders of mobs to kill, maim and oppress in the name of these Enlightenment concepts of heritage, ethnicity and nation.

But I am seeing a shift here. Not in the brutal oppression of peoples based on superficial qualities, spurious signifiers or chance associations – that will go on forever. No, the shift is the shift away from these Enlightenment ideals of ethnicity, heritage and nation. They have become the new tradition and a new modernity is now setting about rendering them obsolete.

The EU and NAFTA and OPEC and ASEAN and even the UN are severely muddling and eroding the old idea of nation. NASDAQ and NYSE are dissolving it even more, and the globalization that was visible in the late 18th century became inescapable by the late 20th. Ethnicity is threatened by multiculturalism and the intrapersonal activity that comedian George Carlin once described as a remedy for racism. Even if it survives, the associations will shift and pale-skinned male Europeanness may no longer constitute advantage – a condition apparent in the current election.

That leaves heritage, which was always the most mutable, because it dealt with history and thus lay a little bit beyond the law, so to speak. When I was a kid, we talked about what we were, by which we meant ethnic or national descent so you were Irish or German or Chinese or Indian, and you talked about and worked with this “heritage” as you constructed your own identity but it seemed to me in my teens and twenties that identity was about music and books and things you ate and bought and otherwise ingested and you could travel to Europe or Asia and find other people your age who ingested and bought the same things and listened to the same music and watched the same movies and it was already clear probably in the 1960s and 1970s that there was a global culture and this culture, like modern automobiles, was not imported from a place but from all places, made and assembled in three dozen countries, its industrial DNA far beyond the reach of hoary old ideas like heritage, ethnicity or nation.

That was already true 22 years ago when I went around the world and it is truer today. Manga is integral to youth culture (every third grader reads from right to left as easily as from left to right now) but earlier generations had their Japonisms like Godzilla and Speed Racer. I read an article about the Afghani version of American Idol and how it is breaking down barriers but still facing opposition and the wire services were quick to report that the woman contestant did NOT win, but the salient fact is simple: there is an Afghani version of American Idol. There is a new modernity burying a new tradition.

The ideas of heritage, ethnicity and nation are now traditional and they are confronting extinction in the face of the new modernity, which groups peoples by a complex matrix of identity attributes many of them defined by commodities and consumerism. You could throw religion in as well, a survivor from earlier clashes between earlier traditionalisms and earlier modernities. Much of the agency of 21st century terrorism that is not attributed to heritage is attributed to religion, but its agency is operating in the same fashion as heritage, ethnicity and nation. Religion is even more mutable than heritage, its precepts and outcomes constrained by no physical or logical bounds.

I’m always conflicted by the Multicultural fairs held by my school and my children’s school. I mean, I could show up with corned beef and kielbasa, but my reality, my identity has more to do with salsa, beef noodles, and Belgian beer, even if that has nothing to do with my provable “heritage.” My kids grew up speaking Japanese, which also has nothing to do with my provable “heritage.” I have been to the house my great grandfather was born in in County Limerick and I have stayed in the 17th century Silesian castle named for a king who shares my real last name, but are these “heritages” more real to me than this elevated rapid transit line I have ridden for 45 years? Is my identity more lost if I lose Stanislaus Leszczynski or if I lose Harold Washington, whom I met and voted for six times? Is my identity more a farm in Limerick or the tinny guitars of Leeds punk? I found that essence rare; it is what I looked for.

The reality is we all build Wiidentities nowadays, lists of likes and dislikes and influences and heroes trotted out on MySpace and Facebook and we beg borrow or steal these identities from manufactured versions and visions of ethnicity, heritage and nation. (See our 2005 project These are not natural things: they are products and we are consumers and they were born at the same time as the modern corporation and now I think they are withering away.

Withering, you say? The resurgent Taliban, the Darfur genocide, hair-trigger Kosovo and al-Qaeda in Iraq are harsh manifestations of ethnicity, heritage and nation. But these are the last desperate, ultraviolent gasps of traditionalisms faced with a new modernity, a new Matrix of atomized but socially networked individuals whose identity is entirely too complex – and too fluid – for those hoary old Enlightenment concepts. So they will wither and a new wikieality will replace them, to run its course through time. The terrorists haven’t grasped the new reality – their oft-touted and once realized idea of Islamic states just links one outmoded concept with another.

When I first drafted this, I concluded that while ethnicity, heritage and nation are withering, another Enlightenment project – the joint stock corporation – was thriving. The atomized consumer network of the internet is perfect for corporations, helping them chop old traditions into identity commodities. Google is trying to remake philanthrophy and business at once. I wondered whether the corporation would also become a dinosaur and what would replace it. I wrote “for now it is one of the few legacies of the Enlightenment that still has legs.” And then the events of recent weeks cut those legs off. I can’t wait to see what happens – that’s what I like about history: its unpredictability.


October 10, 2008

Yom Kippur is the Day of Atonement. World financial markets responded with a belated atonement for a decade of make-believe profits fed by gypsum-and-pressboard McMansions. McMansions with the life expectancy of a McNugget. Now the spoiled spoon-fed MBAs – the real welfare moms – are queueing up for the dole. That’s not really a fair comparison: actual welfare recipients only get their checks monthly while the MBAs show up every week or two. And they get more in one day than Health and Human Services or Social Security get in a year.

But it seems like the atonement isn’t done until the banks are nationalized.

Are U of C economists going to have their Nobel awards revoked?

Tell me again why we are rescuing these people, who never rescued anyone.

Hull House Revisited

October 3, 2008

So I took my First Year Program Residential College Research Studio I class to Hull House on Tuesday. I blogged about Hull House in Spring 2007, gushing about how they were reinventing what it meant to be a house museum. Well, it is all true, thanks to Director Lisa Lee and her able staff, now including SAIC HPRES alum Weston Davey. We were there for “Rethinking Soup,” a weekly free soup kitchen-and-discussion session that fills the historic Dining Hall. Two programs on nutrition and food stimulated a participant discussion on everything from vegetarianism to sustainability. Books on the topic and crayons were in easy reach along with whole wheat rolls on the butcher-paper-covered tables. Several of my students spoke up during the discussion, which was excellent of them.

Our class also had another discussion on immigration, which the Hull House people set up via a visual language game – about 40 photos on the wall meant to start a discussion on immigration. Our group got into it well, and the students have a lot of such experiences, since many of their parents and even some of them were, in fact, recent immigrants. We of course toured the house, saw the latest in interpretation, which still includes the excellent public-participation component where visitors are asked to choose which of three captions should adorn the portrait of Jane Addams’ longtime companion Mary Rozet Smith.

They also have a very good film about the legacy of Hull House, as well as displays on many of its missions, ranging from day care and education to peace activism, crafts (the Hull House kilns) and their pioneering sociological study. Oh, there is also nutrition and public health and labor reform and all sorts of other mischief cooked up in the block of buildings once there. They even have a model of that block, now two false shells (with real interiors) of the old mansion and Dining Hall.

We come here as part of a class that is looking at different ways of interpreting history and I was struck again by how Lisa Lee has interpreted history in the most effective way possible: by continuing it. In our immigration discussion, in our nutrition discussion over squash soup, we were doing what Jane Addams and the Women of Hull House did in 1890 and 1910 and 1940 – discussing issues of the day in a free and open forum. You don’t have to tell people what happened there, because what the visitors are doing IS what happened there. And it is still happening there. There is no plaque, no sculpture, no display case, no film, no living history reenactment that can exceed that. Not only is the visitor interpreting the site by participating in the type of forum engendered in that Dining Hall, they are extending and expanding that history. I don’t know that I have ever found a better example of how history is interpreted and I don’t know if I have ever experienced more clearly the reality that history is a thing that began in the past and is not over yet. It doesn’t matter that the architecture was so badly restored in 1965, because the historic significance of this building is powerfully alive.