Saturday, November 28, 2009

Georgia Historical Society Accepting Book Donations

The Georgia Historical Society needs your used books for its Annual Book Sale to be held April 23-24, 2010. This popular annual event raises greatly-needed funds for GHS's library and archives. Proceeds from the sale are used to purchase new library materials and to care for the oldest collection of Georgia history. Donations can include rare and non-rare: fiction, poetry, children's, and all non-fiction subjects including history, biography, current events, how-to, religion, business, self-help, cooking, gardening, etc. Magazines/journals, obsolete audio/video, and games donations will not be accepted. Donations to the Book Sale are tax deductible. For more information or to volunteer, contact GHS at 912-651-2128 or email us at

The Georgia Historical Society, headquartered in Savannah with offices in Atlanta and Affiliate Chapters in 80 counties, is the oldest cultural institution in the state and one of the oldest historical organizations in the nation. It is the first and only statewide historical society in Georgia. For nearly 175 years, GHS has collected, preserved, and shared Georgia and American history through a variety of educational outreach programs, publications, and research services. For more information visit:

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Michigan Historic Preservation Office and MSHDA Announce Recovery of WWII Fighter Plane from Lake Michigan

/PRNewswire/ -- Weather permitting on Monday, November 30, a World War II, F6F-3 Hellcat fighter plane will be raised from the depths of Lake Michigan off the Chicago shoreline. The plane has rested on the lake bottom for more than sixty years after crashing during a training exercise.

During the war, navy pilots trained to land on aircraft carriers in Lake Michigan before seeing active duty. The "aircraft carriers" used for training were in fact old Great Lakes passenger liners modified with wooden landing decks. The vessels docked at Chicago's Navy Pier, and the pilots left from the Glenview Naval Air Station in Glenview, Illinois. This airplane, an F6F-3 Hellcat Fighter (serial number 25910), was among many that crashed in the lake during aircraft carrier qualification training. The airplane was lost in about 250 feet of water on January 5, 1945. The pilot, Lieutenant (Junior Grade) Walter B. Elcock, was attempting to land aboard the USS Sable during training. Lieutenant Elcock survived the crash and presently lives in Atlanta, Georgia. More than 17,000 pilots completed the training at Glenview, including former president, and then-Lieutenant (Junior Grade) George H. W. Bush.

Prior to the activities on Lake Michigan, this particular Hellcat served with Fighter Squadron VF-38 at Guadalcanal in 1943.

The U.S. Navy is leading the recovery, which is being sponsored by Enterprise Rent-a-Car with a generous donation from CEO Andy Taylor. Taylor made the donation in honor of his father, Jack Taylor, who founded Enterprise and named it for the most decorated aircraft carrier in American history, USS Enterprise, CV-6. The National Naval Aviation Museum, in coordination with the Naval History and Heritage Command, the Naval Aviation Museum Foundation, and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office, will complete the recovery portion of the effort this week using a crew from A. and T. Recovery. Following the recovery the plane will be stabilized and reworked for eventual exhibit.

Before recovery could occur much coordination and consultation took place between the Navy and the Michigan State Historic Preservation Office (MSHPO), part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. Federal law requires that state historic preservation offices review and comment on all federally funded or licensed activities to determine the activity's potential for impact on historic resources -- above-ground, underground, or underwater.

"These planes tell the relatively unknown story of the Great Lakes region's role in training pilots during WWII," stated Michigan State Historic Preservation Officer Brian Conway. "Our general preference is to preserve the plane in place on the lake bottom as part of that story. We recognize, however, that there is a public benefit to be gained from recovery, stabilization, and exhibition of this plane. This is the first time an aircraft connected with carrier training during World War II has been raised from Michigan waters. We look forward to receiving the information the recovery will provide."

The entire recovery process and assessment of the plane's condition will be documented in writing and with video by a professional archaeologist who will then turn the materials over to the Archives of Michigan. Consultation with the MSHPO will continue throughout the rework process and the eventual interpretation of the plane. Information about the plane's association with the Great Lakes area and its recovery from Lake Michigan will be made part of the presentation of the aircraft when it is exhibited.

The State Historic Preservation Office is part of the Michigan State Housing Development Authority. The Michigan State Housing Development Authority is dedicated to building a thriving and vibrant future for Michigan. MSHDA provides tools and resources to improve people's lives through programs across the state. These programs assist with housing, build strong neighborhoods, and help create places where people want to live and work. MSHDA's programs work in four areas: affordable rental housing; supporting homeownership; ending homelessness; and creating vibrant cities and neighborhoods.*

*MSHDA's loan and operating expenses are financed through the sale of tax-exempt and taxable bonds as well as notes to private investors, not from state tax revenues. Proceeds are loaned at below-market interest rates to developers of rental housing, and help fund mortgages and home improvement loans. MSHDA also administers several federal housing programs.

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Monday, November 16, 2009

Colonial Williamsburg Opens America's Only 18th-Century Coffeehouse

/PRNewswire/ -- More than 200 years since Americans gathered to discuss political and social issues in an authentic 18th-century coffeehouse, Colonial Williamsburg formally dedicates the R. Charlton Coffeehouse, the Historic Area's newest exhibition building and the first major reconstruction on Duke of Gloucester Street in more than 50 years, at 4 p.m. Nov. 20.

"The reconstructed R. Charlton's Coffeehouse is a major architectural and educational addition to the Historic Area," said Colin G. Campbell, president of Colonial Williamsburg. "It adds a new dimension and vibrancy to our understanding and portrayal of life in Williamsburg on the eve of the American Revolution. We are extremely grateful to Forrest and Deborah Mars for enabling Colonial Williamsburg to create a fuller picture of social and political life during that tumultuous era. This project will be of great interest to guests, scholars and artisans alike."

The opening begins with re-enactment of the memorable event of 1765 when an angry crowd threatened Virginia's appointed administrator of The Stamp Act until he was rescued and escorted to safety by the royal governor.

Following the opening ceremony, a walk-through open house of the building is available. The open house continues 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, Nov. 21-22.

R. Charlton's Coffeehouse will open daily for interpretive tours Monday, Nov. 23 when guests will learn about the pre-Revolutionary significance of this establishment before concluding the experience with the opportunity to enjoy a sample tasting of period coffeehouse beverages - coffee, tea or chocolate. The newest exhibition site in the Historic Area will reflect its 18th-century role as a gathering place for the politically connected as well as for the socially ambitious. The reconstruction will provide an exciting new venue for Historic Area programming.

Archaeological evidence recovered from the coffeehouse site reflects the importance of fine dining as well as the consumption of tea, coffee and chocolate. Charlton offered an epicurean menu that included fish, shellfish, meat and game, even peacock. A Cherokee pipe fragment suggests the presence of Indians who may have been part of an official delegation.

Coffeehouse furnishings include carefully researched reproduction furniture, ceramics, glassware, hardware and other items representing the variety of activities that took place there. Hand-printed wallpapers will cover the walls of the well-appointed private meeting room and the north room, both based on microscopic study of original building fragments.

R. Charlton's Coffeehouse is built on its original foundations with 18th-century construction techniques.

Reconstruction of R. Charlton's Coffeehouse is possible through a $5 million gift from Forrest and Deborah Mars.

Williamsburg is located in Virginia's Tidewater region within an hour's drive of Richmond and Norfolk, and 150 miles south of Washington, D.C., off Interstate 64. For more information about Colonial Williamsburg, call 1-800-HISTORY or visit Colonial Williamsburg's Web site at

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Thursday, November 12, 2009

New Historic Conflict in JFK Case

/PRNewswire/ -- Tim Miller, president of publishing company FlatSigned Press, had the privilege of being authorized to produce the final memoirs of the late President Gerald R. Ford -- the last surviving member of the Warren Commission, which was assembled by President Lyndon B. Johnson to investigate the JFK Assassination. Ford always stated publicly that he stood behind the findings of the Warren Commission even after other members of the same commission admitted that they believed the report was flawed and did not give the whole truth. Additionally, President Johnson, Nixon and even the US Congress have stated that it was flawed and that the US Congress believed there was a conspiracy.

In this final book, a collector's book hand-signed by former President Ford with only 3000 copies ever printed, Ford either deliberately or accidentally included hidden clues or conflicts with the official Warren Commission Report. For example, as he addresses the lingering questions and conspiracy theories surrounding the Kennedy assassination one by one, he confirms the role of at least one CIA employee in hiding and destroying information regarding the assassination even though the Warren Commission reported that the CIA did NOT destroy anything.

Therefore, shortly after the release of Ford's final book entitled, President John F. Kennedy: Assassination Report of the Warren Commission, this historical collector's book became extremely controversial. Ford had three years to correct his words and the official record before his death, yet he instead gifted over 100 copies of the book to his close friends and family including Vice President Dick Cheney.

After President Ford died on December 26, 2007, the story started to change. In 2008 Miller received an unsolicited email from a retired anchorman requesting a face-to-face meeting. During that meeting, Miller was told that the Kennedy family did NOT want the files opened and asked that Miller stop pushing the issue, which rang of an attempted cover-up even after 45 years.

The new information had left both the Ford family and Kennedy families feeling uncomfortable and now, along with the help of a Michigan newspaper, they are casting doubt on Ford's book. Additionally, in that news story, the Ford family references the book as says it is in the hands of their lawyers and implied and/or are threatening to sue Miller and his company for fabricating the whole thing; even though Miller, his staff and the staff of President Ford spent countless hours working with the late President Ford on the book.

Mr. Miller has a written contract, which is signed by Ford, Miller and a third-party witness, Penny Circle, who at the time was President Ford's Chief of Staff and is now Chief of Staff for Mrs. Ford. In addition, each of the 3000 books include an original photograph of President Ford signing the special, signed page and Penny Circle is pictured in each of these original photographs.

"I was not a believer in conspiracy theories until I began working with Ford and his staff on his final book, said Miller. "As I began reading what President Ford had written, flaws and carefully worded statements seem to jump out at me that supported facts, which had been presented by many others surrounding the JFK assassination," adds Miller.

Often, the credibility of one's contention can be measured by the speed at which others try to silence it. Therefore, Miller will be hosting a press conference to share this revealing information with the public, to prove its legitimacy, and to announce his recent filing of a FOIA request demanding the release of the JFK Assassination Files from the CIA.

Miller believes the public has a right to know what really happened. Therefore, in what will surely reignite the conspiracy debate, Miller is ready and willing to disclose revealing information from the book, from his personal conversations with the late President Ford as well as the important information that Ford demanded be cut from the unpublished manuscript immediately prior to going to print. In addition to the book and the great lengths to which the Ford lawyers are attempting to cover up, Miller can also discuss the most intriguing aspects of his direct work with the late President Ford and how he sees the releasing of the JFK files as a great way for Obama, within his first official year of presidency, to deliver on his promise of a new era of an "open government."

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Tuesday, November 10, 2009

The World War II Preservation Trust

/24-7/ -- The World War II Preservation Trust is a non-profit organization specializing in the examination, research and acquisition of WWII artifacts. Our mission is to preserve Second World War souvenirs sent home by Veterans. We hope to accomplish this goal through the acquisition and conservation of these items which otherwise might be neglected; this would prevent future generations from understanding these symbolic relics.

We have served as consultants to museums, auction houses and historical societies throughout the Country. Our goal has, and will remain, the education and enlightenment of all those interested in the dynamic history associated with this intense period in our Nation's past.

The goal of our organization is to help preserve the history and the artifacts from this very dramatic part of the 20th century. We are enthusiasts and historians of this period, and have had the opportunity and pleasure of talking with 100's of WWII Veterans and their families. We know what an impact this experience had on their lives.

Fast forward to the present day and the majority of these voices have been silenced by Father Time. We hope to contact as many remaining members of "The Greatest Generation" and their families to hear their stories and record their experiences.

Our goal is to gather the words, photographs, and anecdotes of our veterans, in order to convey their enormous sacrifices to present and future generations. Many veterans returned home with souvenirs from their adventures overseas. These artifacts, whether they be something as simple as a medal or badge, or as symbolic like a flag, jacket or helmet, represent the spoils of war. Remember the old saying, "To the victor goes the spoils," and the American G.I. was the most prolific souvenir hunter of all time.

It is through these souvenirs, along with other visuals, that we hope to keep the spirit and history of the era alive. Our organization is not-for-profit. It exists for the love of history and the people involved in making this history.

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Wednesday, November 4, 2009

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation Announces Its 2010 List of State's 10 'Places in Peril'

/PRNewswire/ -- The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation released today its 2010 list of 10 Places in Peril in the state.

Sites on the list include: Central State Hospital in Milledgeville; Paradise Gardens in Summerville; Morris Brown College in Atlanta; Canton Grammar School in Cherokee County; Leake archaeological site in Cartersville; Dorchester Academy in Midway; Old Dodge County Jail in Eastman; Ritz Theatre in Thomaston; Herndon Plaza in Atlanta; and, Capricorn Recording Studio in Macon.

"This is the Trust's fifth annual Places in Peril list," said Mark C. McDonald, president and CEO of the Trust. "We hope the list will continue to draw attention to a broad range of Georgia's imperiled historic resources by highlighting ten representative sites," McDonald said.

Places in Peril is designed to raise awareness about Georgia's significant historic, archaeological and cultural resources, including buildings, structures, districts, archaeological sites and cultural landscapes that are threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy.

Through Places in Peril, the Trust will encourage owners and individuals, organizations and communities to employ proven preservation tools, financial resources and partnerships in order to reclaim, restore and revitalize historic properties that are in peril.

The Trust will provide on-site preservation assistance to each of the 2010 Places in Peril through its Partners in the Field program, funded by grants from the National Trust for Historic Preservation and a number of charitable organizations in Georgia.

Sites that have been placed on previous years' lists have included: the Wren's Nest, home of folklore writer Joel Chandler House in Atlanta; Pasaquan, an internationally acclaimed visionary art site in Marion County near Buena Vista; Andalusia, the home of Flannery O'Connor outside of Milledgeville; Cockspur Island Lighthouse off the coast of Savannah; Bibb Mill, a historic textile mill destroyed by fire in Columbus; and the University of Georgia Marine Institute Greenhouse and Administration Building on Sapelo Island. Updates on these sites and others can be found at

The Georgia Trust for Historic Preservation is one of the country's largest statewide, nonprofit preservation organizations. Committed to preserving and enhancing Georgia's communities and their diverse historic resources for the education and enjoyment of all, The Georgia Trust generates community revitalization by finding buyers for endangered properties acquired by its Revolving Fund; provides design assistance to 102 Georgia Main Street cities and encourages neighborhood revitalization; trains teachers in 63 Georgia school systems to engage students to discover state and national history through their local historic resources; and, advocates for funding, tax incentives and other laws aiding preservation efforts.

The Georgia Trust is a recipient of the Trustees Award for Organizational Excellence from the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

Summary Information on each Places in Peril Site

Central State Hospital, Milledgeville

Once the nation's largest mental hospital and second largest in the world, the campus of Central State Hospital has grown and changed just as much as the study of mental health. Built in 1842, Central State Hospital was Georgia's first psychiatric hospital, chartered by the legislature in 1837 with the intent of providing Georgians with mental illness a safe and humane environment.

Some of the buildings have been vacant for years and are suffering from neglect. Many roofs have collapsed, leaving the buildings structurally unstable. Without immediate repairs, deterioration is imminent.

Paradise Gardens, Summerville

In 1961, Howard Finster began his 30-year creation of Paradise Gardens, a folk art site consisting of a maze of buildings, sculptures and displays. The setting is a four-acre swampland that Finster drained by building numerous canals around the property. He built his folk art from found objects and recycled materials ranging from bottles, bathtubs and toilets to bicycle frames and cast-off jewelry.

Since then, Paradise Gardens has attained international pop icon status. Finster and his folk art has been the subject of numerous articles and documentaries. Images of the site can be seen on cover art and in music videos from groups like REM and Talking Heads. Finster and his Gardens were also featured on NBC's The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

The site was built from often fragile materials and is located in the damp climate of a former swamp. Continuous dredging is needed to maintain the canals Finster dug throughout the property. Constant damage from the elements has harmed many of the dozen or so structures.

Morris Brown College, Atlanta

Morris Brown College was the first educational institution in Georgia under sole African American patronage. Built in 1882 to educate freed slaves, Fountain Hall was the first building constructed on campus and is now a National Historic Landmark.

The College educated many outstanding alumni including Isaac Blythers, former President of Atlanta Gas Light Company; Eula L. Adams, Executive Vice President for First Data Corporation; Albert J. Edmonds, Retired Lieutenant General of the United States Air Force; the late Reverend Dr. Hosea Williams, civil rights leader; Thomas J. Byrd, actor of television, film and stage; and James A. McPherson, Pulitzer prize-winning author.

Due to an embezzlement scandal in 2002, the school lost its accreditation and conducts classes online, leaving the buildings vacant and subject to deterioration and vandalism.

Canton Grammar School, Canton

Built in 1914, the Canton Grammar School is one of the few remaining Neoclassical Revival style schools in Georgia. The school housed grades 1-11 until 1924 when Canton High School was built across the street. The Grammar School building continued to be used as a school until 1974, when a new facility was constructed. The Cherokee County Board of Education reopened the building in 1976 as part of the Bicentennial Celebration.

The school is vacant. The Cherokee County Board of Education does not have plans for the building's use, although discussions have included possible demolition. Occasional maintenance has occurred over the years, but there has been little, if any, preservation work.

Leake Archaeological Site, Cartersville

Located in the Etowah Valley Historic District in Bartow County, the Leake site is a prehistoric archaeological site dating as far back as 300 BC. The site contains the remnants of at least three earthen mounds and a vast moat; midden deposits with artifacts from everyday and ceremonial activities; former structures; and human burials.

The site began as a small domestic village that developed into one of the most important sites in the Southeast, both as a ceremonial and political hub.

The Leake site extends along many different property parcels, some of which have already been industrially or commercially developed. The area surrounding the site is growing rapidly, so the unoccupied tracts of land in the archaeological site are in imminent danger of being destroyed.

Dorchester Academy, Midway

Founded in 1871 to educate freed slaves, Dorchester Academy provided the only educational opportunity for African American children in Liberty County for many decades.

The only remaining building on the campus is a brick two-story Colonial Revival style structure built in 1934 as a boys' dormitory. Earlier this year, the school was listed on the National Trust for Historic Preservation's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.

In 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King held a meeting at the dormitory to plan the Birmingham march, which would bring international attention to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States.

Significant and widespread failure of the roofing system has resulted in extensive damage to the property, leaving the building structurally unstable. The Dorchester Improvement Association has provided loving care for the building over the decades, but its aging membership coupled with limited resources have made it impossible to make necessary repairs.

Old Dodge County Jail, Eastman

Built in 1897, the Old Dodge County Jail is an elaborately detailed building that served the county for 70 years. Originally, the building had a central three-story tower, which was removed when the roof was replaced. Most of the interior details are intact, including a "hanging room" with a trap door, metal loop for rope, and lever. The jail closed in 1973, when its replacement was built beside it.

The building is suffering from lack of maintenance and funding as the window and roofing systems continue to deteriorate.

Ritz Theatre, Thomaston

Prominently located on the courthouse square in Thomaston, the Ritz Theatre was built during the height of Thomaston's economic growth.

Throughout its history, the Ritz Theatre has served Thomaston and surrounding towns as a home for the arts as well as an anchor on the downtown square. The Ritz Theatre continues to show first-run movies and serves more than 24,000 patrons annually.

A leak in the front parapet wall has contributed to water penetrating the Art Deco facade. This water damage is causing tiles to deteriorate, posing a threat to the structure and to pedestrians on the sidewalk below.

With the popularity of home entertainment and multiplex theaters, smaller historic theaters are at risk of becoming obsolete.

Herndon Plaza, Atlanta

For more than 50 years, Herndon Plaza was the headquarters of the Atlanta Life Insurance Company, which was founded by Alonzo Herndon, a former slave and Atlanta's first African American millionaire.

The plaza consists of two adjoining buildings. The main building was built as a residence in 1892. In 1918, Atlanta Life moved into the building to set up their headquarters. In 1936, a second annex building was constructed, matching the Neoclassical style of the original building. Atlanta Life built a new building in 1980 and moved out of the Plaza. It stood vacant for many years, but in 1997 Atlanta Life sold the building to the Historic District Development Corporation (HDDC).

The buildings have been vandalized over the years and suffer from a lack of maintenance. Custom wood awnings, door frames, marble floors, and hallways are in danger of disrepair. The HDDC is in the process of hiring an architect and contractor for the project and is applying for Historic Preservation Certification to receive federal tax credits.

Capricorn Recording Studio, Macon

During the 1970s, Macon's Capricorn Recording Studio was a mecca for Southern Rock music legends such as the Allman Brothers Band, Charlie Daniels Band, Dixie Dregs, and the Marshall Tucker Band.

Capricorn Recording Studio filed bankruptcy in 1979. In 1986, the building reopened and operated under several music labels before being purchased by Mercer University in 1999. In 2008, MLK Properties, LLC purchased the former studio with plans to rehabilitate it. On November 3, 2009, the building was foreclosed upon.

The property is located within sight of downtown Macon's tourism and museum district, but the surrounding area appears depressed and unsafe due to numerous vacant lots and boarded-up buildings covered with graffiti.

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Monday, November 2, 2009

National Postal Museum Depicts Rural Postal Delivery in New Online Collection

The Smithsonian’s National Postal Museum has launched “Bringing the World Home,” another featured collection on its award-winning Web site Arago. It is the story of the development, implementation and growth of the Rural Free Delivery service and its impact on rural America; the collection is at|s1=6|.

The Post Office Department established the nation’s first free mail delivery service in 1863. It began in 44 northern cities and spread across the country following the Civil War. Even as the new service grew, it remained available only to urban dwellers. Providing this service to rural areas became a congressional and national debate. In 1896, funds were allocated for a limited test in West Virginia. The service caught on and petitions of encouragement and support flooded Congress.

Arago is dedicated to the online presentation of the museum’s vast collections and contains high-resolution images and associated stories presented by curators, expert volunteer researchers, museum staff and guest writers. Since the image of a woman first appeared on a U.S. postage stamp in 1893, the U.S. Postal Service has represented female politicians, social activists, educators, artists, business women and performers on more than 200 stamps.

The National Postal Museum is devoted to presenting the colorful and engaging history of the nation’s mail service and showcasing one of the largest and most comprehensive collections of stamps and philatelic material in the world. It is located at 2 Massachusetts Avenue N.E., Washington, D.C., across from Union Station. The museum is open daily from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. (closed Dec. 25). For more information about the Smithsonian, please call (202) 633-1000 or TTY (202) 633-5285. Visit the museum Web site at

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