June 19, 2017
Route One was once America’s thoroughfare, built over the older Quebec-Miami International Highway and the Atlantic Highway. A decent stretch of this old road falls under the purview of Aaron Marcavitch, the Executive Director of Maryland’s Anacostia Trails Heritage Area and this week’s guest. Aaron is an advocate for the preservation of roadside architecture, ranging from diners that predate the highway system to an old Woolworth’s. This is all in addition to his work preserving communities and buildings throughout his area, including an old dueling ground just north of Washington D.C. Roll down the window and put your feet on the dash, this is PreserveCast.
[Nick Redding] If you’re listening to this podcast on the road, take a look out the window. You might be surprised at the history of some of the buildings out there. At least that’s what happened to today’s guest, Aaron Marcavitch. Aaron is the Executive Director of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, and he’s here to share with us all about his work to help preserve everything from 1920s diners, an often under-valued road-side architecture, to the planned utopian community of Greenbelt, Maryland. Pull over if you have to, because this is PreserveCast.
From Preservation Maryland studios, in the historic podcast district of Baltimore, this is PreserveCast!
[Nick Redding] This is Nick Reading, you’re listening to PreserveCast. Today we are joined in studio by Aaron Marcavitch, who is the Executive Director of the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area. And as many of our listeners know, if you’ve listened all the way through to the end of the credits, Aaron is also the Executive Producer of PreserveCast –
[Aaron Marcavitch] I hope you’ve listened all the way to the end.
[NR] Absolutely. [laughter] He is the Executive Producer of PreserveCast, because Aaron was instrumental in helping us pull the funding together and has been a partner through and through on this. So it’s good to have you in the studio, Aaron.
[AM] Absolutely, thanks for having me.
[NR] We always ask everyone, just to kind of set the tone for the interview to give us a little bit of background on you yourself, and how you got into historic preservation. And then we’ll get into the details of what it is you do now, and what the heritage area is, and all that good stuff. So how did you get here today?
[AM] Historic preservation came to me by way of – when I was growing up, the big word that I could say was “architecture.” So I wanted to be an architect. That sounded big and important. I went off, I did a summer program at Carnegie Mellon, and I found out I wasn’t terribly good at it. So along the way I said, “Well I still like buildings. I like history. I like all these things.”
We had a architectural history class in that summer program. Part of that conversation, it brought up historic preservation. I said, “That sounds like an interesting thing, I think I want to get into that.” I went and talked to the University of Vermont, they said, “No, we only have a Master’s program, but we know of this one at Roger Williams University.” So my undergraduate is a Roger Williams University from Bristol, Rhode Island . Go Hawks! And that was a really great program because it was very technical; it had planning background, small-town, urban, rural planning types of things. You could also do a specialization in conservation technologies. But I stayed on the planning side. I was more interested in how communities work, and how they’re inter-connected, and probably a little bit on the political side. I did a semester in England. After that, [I] went through and worked at what is now Preservation Massachusetts, so the state-wide in Massachusetts.
And then went and did a Master’s degree in history, because I wanted [it] a little bit more broad-based. I, actually, kind of flipped the typical schedule where you do this very broad-based history undergrad and then a preservation graduate. Instead, I went and did the history degree at Middle Tennessee State University in Murfreesboro, Tennessee – go Blue Raiders! And they had a Center for Historic Preservation under a guy named Caroll Van West, who is known around the preservation world as a guy that’s very into heritage areas. And so we did a lot of work there.
After I left Tennessee, we said we had to get back to New England – my wife’s from New England – we wanted to get back to New England. And we ended up spending seven years out on the small island of Nantucket off the coast of Cape Cod, a two-hour boat ride. That’s where both my kids were born and such. And I worked for first the Historic District Commission there doing very technical kinds of work. And then, actually, became the director of the affordable housing organization on the island. So I was bringing in architecture and details and what we could do with these houses but we were also picking up houses and moving them around the island and restoring them. And we, in particular, had a house that was sort of a 1890s kind of Victorian that had been left over. It was a very small house. And so I learned, on the fly, how to do lead abatement and asbestos seals and all these sorts of things. So I got a very technical thing.
As I finished up there, after seven years of that I said, “I need to get my hands really back into historic preservation.” And that’s when this opportunity down here in Maryland came open for Anacostia Trails. So that’s when we moved down here and we made our home in Greenbelt, which is another historic community. So I’m always about communities and preservation, and how we mix those things together.
[NR] So for people who are listening that maybe are outside of Maryland or, perhaps, even people who are in Maryland don’t know where Greenbelt is or where Anacostia is or where that name comes from. What is the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area? Where is it located? What’s kind of the makeup of that community?
[AM] Sure. We’re northern Prince George’s County, right on the D.C. border. And if folks take a look at the border of D.C. and that sort of imperfect square that is D.C. and follow Route 1 and I-95 and the BW Parkway northward, you’ll be passing through our heritage area. You’ll be very much passing by the city of Greenbelt, which is at the center of it. But communities like Hyattsville, which has been on many of The Washington Post’s lists for hip communities, that’s where we keep our office. The town of Bladensburg, which has a very long history going all the way from the War of 1812 and before to present, to communities like Laurel. So that norther Prince George’s area. We’ve just added Bowie, Cheverly, and an area around Glen Dale, which is where the Glen Dale Hospital which is one of your Six-to-Fix’s is located.
[NR] Yeah. And for people who aren’t familiar with that, Glen Dale Hospital was a tuberculosis sanitarium from the early part of the twentieth century. It’s actually where D.C. sent –
[AM] That’s right.
[NR] – its tuberculosis patients. They sent them out of the district into Maryland into Prince George’s County.
[AM] Into the rural, summer-y, enjoy-the-fresh-air type of place.
[NR] And it’s been vacant for thirty years. So we’ve been really kind of pushing pretty hard as an organization to try and get the government agencies that are responsible for it to kind of pick up the ball and start moving with it. And, actually, we’re pleased to report that that is actually happening, so.
[AM] Yeah. It’s fantastic to finally see – it’s a monumental pile of bricks that’s just wonderful to see, and hopefully, we will see it sometime in our lifetime as a functional building again [laughter]
[NR] Right. Hopefully, it doesn’t take 30 years to –
[AM] That’s right. [laughter]
[NR] – rehab now that the process is actually started.
[NR] So, it’s a pretty urban area, what you’re describing.
[AM] That’s right.
[NR] And Route 1, for people who aren’t familiar with that, describe Route 1 because that, I mean, it conjures up, at least locally, a lot of different thoughts. Not all of them positive.
[AM] Not all of them positive. Route 1 is interesting. Going back to where I grew up. I grew up in a very rural sort of environment. My father is in the mining industry and we were surrounded by farms. And even on Nantucket, that was considered to be a rural community and all these different things. So coming to a very urbanized type of situation, these inner-ring suburbs that were some of the early growth right out of Washington as it was developing at the turn of the century into the ’20s and ’30s. These were streetcar suburbs. These were communities that were linked by the trolley. They were linked by trains. And they were gobbling up old plantation sites and becoming these large communities that were subdivisions and what have you. So Route 1 was the ribbon that ran through it.
Now, Route 1 – I’ve been doing research into this. Route 1, in some ways, was established in 1741. So it’s been around for a very long time as a connector road. That was what the Rochambeau group, whenever they were marching towards Yorktown, used. This was a main route to get tobacco to ports such as Bladensburg or Elkridge Landing or what have you. And over the years, it’s become urbanized.
So the Route 1 that most people remember, especially within Maryland, is that they attended the University of Maryland, and they didn’t want to venture out onto Route 1 because that was where couches got burnt or whatever it might be. So there was a lot of bad things about Route 1.
But now today, a lot of that is becoming revitalized and I think the pressure within historic preservation for these communities is you can go within a block off of Route 1 and find fantastic Victorian homes, 1920s homes, whatever they might be. There’s beautiful, beautiful neighborhoods up and down the Route 1 corridor. But the Route 1 corridor being a block or two wide from the center point of Route 1, is a traditional highway route that was the pre-Route 95 kind of thing, Interstate 95. This was what you traveled, [it] was Route 1. It goes all the way from Fort Kent, Maine, down to Key West in Florida. This was America’s main street and is still considered that in some ways. This is where all the development was happening. You could find a million different things. You could find tourist cabins. You could find gas stations and all kinds of crazy roadside stuff. And now it’s facing development pressure, which is good because it’s been so rundown for the last thirty, forty years. But it doesn’t have the controls in terms of the architecture and the design. And who is stepping up for the historic buildings along those routes is very much a big question that is constantly being – having a conversation about.
[NR] And is that because people just locally sort of disregard it as being valuable? They think of it as – I mean, would you describe it as sort of sprawl-like?
[AM] Yeah. I think there is… Well, I wouldn’t say sprawl. I would say that it became very automobile-centric. So Chester Liebs who wrote this book Main Streets to Miracle Miles – he was a big roadside architecture kind of guy – and he talked about these “miracle miles.” And the miracle mile was the automobile road leading into a city and it would tend to be clustered with a lot of gas stations. It would be clustered with car dealerships. It would be clustered with all automobile -related types of stuff. So that takes up big parking lots. If you take a place like Hyattsville that now has this big buzz about it. It’s because of the condo buildings that have been built right on Route 1 and these restaurants and everything. Well, those were all built in the parking lots of the old Lustine Auto Place. So they were all just giant empty parking lots and that’s what people remember is this empty parking lot aspect of it. So sprawl, to me, is a little bit different but it was a very unique type of sprawl that comes from that Route 1 we’re just passing through. And I think that was the key. The road became a, “We’re passing through,” not a, “We’re going to stop and experience these historic communities that have been here since 1880.”
[NR] And now your heritage area. I mean, I’m guessing you’re not promoting or suggesting that we should preserve empty parking lots. But the buildings associated with them you would like to see preserved?
[AM] Well, yeah. I think it’s actually even the era before that. It’s not necessarily the stuff from the ’60s and ’70s. But it’s the stuff before that. Again, to go back to Hyattsville – I’m going to pick on them a little bit – but they have a building that was a Woolworth, a 1920’s Woolworth. In College Park, they’ve got another early commercial strip that is now the home of the – it was a bagel shop or something like that. And those are 1920’s, 1930’s era buildings that got left behind. And now as the pressure for development has chewed up most of those empty parking lots, they’re not starting to turn their attention towards these other places.
[NR] And now do any of these places have the kind of traditional preservation controls that we would be familiar with?
[AM] Not really. Not really. I would have to go back and double-check, but they’re not necessarily on a National Register. The one that really got me sad was we lost a little tavern. Little taverns were these small, porcelain-enamel buildings that had a green roof and they were a hamburger stand. Think of a White Castle or something to that effect.
[NR] This is the one in College Park?
[AM] This is the one in College Park. And the University was trying to clean up College Park and it’s doing a very good job. It has changed the face of it. But that building was rundown to them and was useless. “Let’s just get rid of it.” And I tried to see if we could fight to save it and make it into another little food stand or something, but they had their vision in mind for what was going to go there and that was gone. Now that’s a building that could have been disassembled and moved and reused. But finding a way to reuse them is difficult. Roadside architecture stuff like this is very difficult to deal with. I think it’s interesting to have a heritage area that’s based around Route 1 like this because it’s a different type of experience than you might experience, let’s say, with the heritage areas in the heart of the Civil War. You’re experiencing these large, open rural areas. Rolling lands and whatever, and then small communities.
[NR] Almost what people think of when you think of a heritage area.
[AM] That’s right. That’s right.
[NR] And I think that, to some extent, it’s great in a state that has really urban areas that we would embrace that and suggest that there’s a heritage worth preserving there.
[AM] That’s it.
[NR] And that’s good to say that. But then –
[AM] How do you do it?
[NR] – you got to follow up on it. Right.
[AM] How do you do it?
[NR] You can’t let UMD come in and take out these really charming historic structures.
[AM] And, on top of that, then you also are dealing with the situation where the main highway, this Route 1 Corridor, is a state highway. It’s a federal highway. Who’s in charge of it? How are they dealing with telephone poles and cleanups? So there’s very thick and sticky issues that we have to kind of crash through, makes it difficult. Which is part of the reason why we’ve taken a lot of time and focused on bicycle tourism and getting people to experience our historic sites. Because that was an easier lift to get them there. Now we are pushing very hard into this: how do we deal with the much thicker issues? And it’s not easy. It takes an incremental approach and you got to have a long vision on it. You can’t just say, “We’re going to snap our fingers and zoom, you’ve gotten the issues fixed.” This is going to take thirty, forty years to repair the problems that were caused over the course of thirty or forty years.
[NR] Right. Well, those thick and sticky issues I think would be something that we can take up after we take a quick break here. And maybe talk a little bit more – you mentioned that it’s difficult to move or to save roadside architecture sometimes and maybe we can talk a little bit about why that is the case. So let’s take a quick break. We’ll be right back here on PreserveCast.
And now it’s time for a Preservation Explanation
[Stephen Israel] So I’m sitting here with Beatrice Marcavitch. And, Beatrice, I have a couple questions. My first question is have you been to many museums?
[Beatrice Marcavitch] Yes. I have been to a lot of museums, especially with my dad.
[SI] Do you have a favorite?
[BM] My favorite is probably in Washington D.C. with the [Natural] History Museum.
[SI] Okay. Like the Smithsonian?
[SI] Yeah? What was your favorite part about it?
[BM] I just like seeing all the different kinds of animals there. I just thought that those animals there are pretty cool.
[SI] Very cool. So, Beatrice, who is your dad? And what does he do?
[BM] He’s a historic preservationist and he preserves old houses and teaches different people like me about what the place was or is.
[SI] Right. I was also asking what’s his name? So that people know.
[BM] My dad’s name is Aaron Marcavitch.
[SI] So I had a question that was, what is the oldest building you’ve ever been in? I don’t know if you know that off the top of your head.
[BM] So I haven’t been to a lot of old buildings, but probably one of the oldest buildings I’ve been to is the Monticello house in Virginia.
[SI] Very cool. Thomas Jefferson’s house, right?
[SI] Thank you for coming on, Beatrice, and sharing with us your perspective on historic preservation.
[BM] Thank you. You’re listening to PreserveCast.
[NR] This is Nick Redding. You’re listening to Preserve Cast. We’re joined today by Aaron Marcavitch, who is the executive director of the Anacostia Trails Heritage area and is also the executive producer of Preserve Cast. So we are in the presence of [laughter] of our boss, which is good.
[AM] Something like that.
[NR] Something like that. And –
[AM] I need a fancier chair. [laughter]
[NR] You can’t see it right now, but he’s in a large producer’s chair [laughter], and he always does. He presides over every podcast. [laughter] So before we took the break, you were talking about how it’s difficult sometimes to repurpose or to move or disassemble roadside architecture. We saw that recently here at Preservation Maryland. We got involved in an issue at the Bel-Loc Diner, which is one of these just great, roadside diners from the 1960’s in Baltimore County, North of the City of Baltimore. And there in that situation, they basically… Starbucks and said that they wanted to put in a Starbucks, which we thought, “Perfect, you can repurpose a diner, I think, into a Starbucks.”
[AM] Yeah, they don’t want to do that.
[NR] And they had no interest in doing that, and it became a very difficult situation. Why is that? What’s going on with roadside architecture where you don’t have the same level of interest of repurposing or reusing? Is it just too hard? Was it cheaply built? What’s going on?
[AM] Yeah, I think there’s a mixture of things. So in my background, my thesis and my Master’s degree was on how you deal with not only just roadside architecture but, specifically, roadside architecture that is standardized. How do you deal with buildings that are constantly the same sort of design? How do you preserve that? What are those issues? So I’ve been dealing with roadside architecture and how it works for quite a long time, and the thing that really occurred to me along the way is – both my father and my brother have business degrees, and it was never really my thing. I was the historian. I was a little bit more squishy I guess. But I realized that this all had to do with economics. And I had to take a deep dive into the economics of it.
The buildings that were designed for the side of the road were designed to be a thirty-year lifespan. They were intended to have a quick depreciation. They were intended to get out of there fast. They were not intended to be a long life. If you look for an apartment building from the 1890’s, it’s built out of stone and has a Richardson Romanesque arch to it and whatnot. Those were amazing things. Roadside architecture – they were intended to be quick up, quick down, cheap material. Let’s get producing.
[NR] And that also has to do with – talk about getting wonky and getting into the details – but that has a lot to do with the change in the tax code as well, right?
[AM] That’s right.
[NR] Because we changed our tax code and how long you could to depreciate something.
[AM] That’s it. You got it.
[NR] And I think a lot of preservationists overlook the impact of that.
[NR] Because if we had a tax code that required businesses to depreciate over a longer period, we would be saving a lot more buildings because there’d be a lot less interest in building new and just holding onto to something old. And that changed when? Is that under Truman, that period?
[AM] Yeah, somewhere sort of in that period. That 1950’s period, you get that read change in materials, you’d get a change in styles and all that. So the diners from the 1920’s – they are still around. They’re still fantastic. There’s a great one in Providence that is just unbelievable. It’s streamline modern. It’s amazing to see. And then you have these buildings that are from the 40’s and the 50’s, and they’re still kind of okay and they can survive. But by the time you get to the 60’s and 70’s where you’re getting tilt-up construction in diners – I had a short stint as the interim executive director of the American Diner Museum, so I really dived in the diner thing – but then you went to this tilt-up style.
They would put in place pieces of concrete. And the construction material, the cost of refitting them is just not there for a place like a Starbucks, the process that they would have to go to to do it. So they need to impress upon people the need to preserve them because of a community aspect. And it comes back to community and it’s not about the dollars in the cents. And for most of these companies, it’s about the dollars and cents. So how you make that transition, you have to have that push. I mean, that’s why something like Preservation Maryland is a really valid organization to have. To put that advocacy behind it and put the pressure on those places. Sometimes it works. Sometimes it doesn’t.
[NR] Yeah. As we know all too well.
[AM] That’s right. I mean, you look at the thing like the little tavern that I was dealing with in College Park. I didn’t have the power to go up against the University of Maryland. The decisions had been made years before and it was just the way it was going to go.
[NR] Now, that structure was from the 1920s? The little burger stand kind of deal?
[AM] Yeah, sort of. It was actually a little bit later. Thirties, forties because by that point they were using a porcelain-enamel product. And the porcelain-enamel is actually great to just take pieces of it and reuse, but I didn’t have a plan to where that would go.
[NR] So that ended up in a landfill?
[AM] It ended up in a landfill.
[NR] So it wasn’t even deconstructed?
[NR] Which is what we oftentimes – kind of our fall back position. It’s not where we want to be always but is, at very least, deconstruct these buildings and that can still be accomplished with these structures that you’re talking about. Tilt-ups and things like that, which is what Bel-Loc was like. We know sort of the background and the history of it. That diner came on the back of a truck and then they pulled it off and bolted it together.
[AM] That’s it. Bolted it together. That’s a very 1960s kind of tilt-up style. So pretty common versus the ones that would come in the 1920s or so. They would, again,arrive by truck or by trailer but they were all one-piece unit. It was more like a trailer type of situation.
[NR] I know those are a lot easier to save and move around –
[AM] They are. They are.
[NR] – and things like that. And you sort of dropped a little gem [laughter] in there before. You said you were the interim executive director of the Diner Museum, which sounds awesome. Does that also include –
[AM] It sounds awesome.
[NR] – a per diem to go around and eat at diners?
[AM] Well, that was the intention in writing my thesis about all this stuff was that I could go and eat at those places or go to funky gas stations or go to motels and do all that sort of thing. No, the Diner Museum was a short-lived project in Providence. It had a lot of other things that it was related to, but never quite made it up off the floor. There’s actually a school there, Johnson and Wales, that has a culinary museum that absorbed some of the collection. But it’s neat stuff and there’s some really interesting people out there at the diner world.
[NR] So in addition to the roadside architecture that you’re dealing with in the Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, you also have these communities that you were talking about.
[NR] Greenbelt sort of stands out as one that I think gets a lot of interesting attention. For people who aren’t from Maryland and aren’t familiar with it, it might be an interesting sort of little story to tell about what exactly is Greenbelt and then what is your heritage area at doing Greenbelt?
[AM] Yeah. Greenbelt is fantastic. It’s a utopian community. So I live in a utopia. Not really, but it basically was established by the federal government in the 1930s – 1937 under Roosevelt – as part of the whole New Deal situation. And he came in and they created a plan, and they were going to have a series of these greenbelt communities. The idea was that this was going to take people out of the slums of the cities and move them out to low-income, rental housing on the outskirts of major cities. So Greenbelt was intended to be on the outskirts of D.C. – which is what it is – close by so that somebody could drive in but not so close that it was picking up all slum aspects.
[NR] And then having a green belt around it?
[AM] A green belt around it, exactly. That Greenbelt still exists today, although not in the way that they had intended it, that’s actually been chewed up by other communities, but there had been that intention. There was an intention that there was going to be farming available to it. There was going to be all sorts of different aspects. And then all the architecture within the community was either an international, flat roof type of style or a cottage-style – they based it off of a community in New Jersey, Radburn – that they were going to make as a cottage style or an English cottage style, which is a brick with a slate roof to it.
[NR] And do you live in one of these little, adorable, charming structures?
[AM] I do. I do. I do live in one of the brick houses – 1937. And then what happened in the 1950s is that the government disinvested themselves after World War II. We had a whole series of frame houses, wooden houses that were built for the World War II time. And the government disinvested and they said, “We’re going to sell it.” And they sold to an organization called Greenbelt Homes Inc., which still runs it as a cooperative. So we don’t actually own the houses like a condo, we own a share, 1/1600th of a share of the entire community that gives us the right to live in those homes.
[NR] So when you go to sell, does it keep it more affordable?
[AM] It does keep it more affordable, but it also means that you have different limitations on the types of mortgages and things that you can get. So it’s a little bit more difficult but it’s a fantastic community to live in. Everything’s walkable. We have a theater there. We have a library there. We have a grocery store.
[NR] Do you have a diner?
[AM] We have a small place that’s called the New Deal Cafe that’s fantastic. And it’s got a very cool 1930’s, 1940’s vibe and the Art Deco kinds of things. And it’s walkable; it’s perfect for kids. I know I’m going to sound like a realtor here trying to sell this thing, but it’s a fantastic community. And from the heritage tourism perspective, it’s almost like a Williamsburg kind of experience. You can drive in, you park, and suddenly you’re in the 1930s in a lot of ways.
So the Greenbelt Museum does fantastic work as an opportunity to see a house in its original condition. They’ve just now bought, through the Heritage Area’s program, a second piece of a building that they’re going to turn into a visitors’ center/education center. It’s a jewel in the Heritage Area. We’ve got a lot of different things, like I say. We go everything from the really Anacostian Native American communities to the oldest Black municipality in the state in North Brentwood to places like Hyattsville and College Park and Laurel. But Greenbelt sits sort of right in the center right off of the beltway and it’s a really unique kind of experience.
[NR] And then from Greenbelt, you talked about all these different places and the one in that last little lineage you didn’t mention is Bladensburg, which is over the past couple of years – I guess a few years back now 0 that was a major focus of yours which is the 200th anniversary of the War of 1812.
[AM] Bladensburg is a really amazing community. It’s not really well-known. People may know it from the Peace Cross that’s located there when there was a big kerfuffle going on about whether or not the Peace Cross should be removed, which is a World War I monument. But we were involved with the creation of a monument there and we have a big event. We tried to fight Battle of Bladensburg again. We lost. Seemed to keep on losing this battle over and over again. If folks are interested, there is a reenactment at Riversdale Mansion usually every year and that’s a great time to do it.
But Bladensburg was a unique experience. Tt was called the darkest day in American history because of the American loss. But I’m sorry, if you go up against the strongest military in the world, the British, and you are untrained and untested, you’re probably going to run. The problem there with Bladensburg is that that battlefield has been basically developed over so the doesn’t really exist anymore.
[NR] But you do have a dueling ground?
[AM] We do have a dueling ground, yes! So the dueling ground which is located kind of where – we had a guy Joshua Barney in the Battle of Bladensburg who managed to keep the British back for a little bit and was our big hero. He stood, basically, right over top of the dueling ground. The dueling ground – if folks are used to the big musical Hamilton, if you’ve heard that, they have a “Ten Duel Commandments.” Dueling was very common. This was how you solved problems in the early 1800s if you were dishonored. And we had something in the neighborhood – there’s twenty-five documented duels. There’s probably closer to fifty that were actually fought there. The big one, the most famous one was [the Decatur-Barron duel]. And they fought over, I believe, it was the speed of a steamship. One of them killed the other – I can’t remember right now. But there’s a little piece of land that’s there and we’re looking at seeing if we can get an art installation or something. There is some interpretive signage but it’s just a quiet little corner, kind of hidden off the side of Alternate US-1. It’s a neat little place to visit.
[NR] You and I could duel in a future podcast.
[AM] Absolutely. I’d love to go down there and duel.
[NR] Maybe it could be like whoever wins becomes the executive producer [laughter].
[AM] That’s it, that’s the rule. Fight to the death on it.
[NR] You can’t see it right now if you’re listening, but I just dropped a glove.
[AM] That’s it, and my honor will be avenged here.
[NR] Well, that’s really interesting.
[AM] Yeah, it’s a fantastic place.
[NR] And it sounds like it’s, I mean, working in preservation is a lot of fun. But it sounds like you have a great job in the sense that there’s always something different that you can focus on. If you want to focus on 1812, you want to focus on utopian communities or you want to try to fix roadside architecture.
[AM] You got it.
[NR] There’s no lack of different projects.
[AM] It’s a fantastic place because of tourism. Heritage areas are a unique opportunity. I love the system and how it works. It’s been a real pleasure to do it.
[NR] Cool. Well, we don’t let anyone out of the studio without telling us about their favorite piece of architecture. And if they’re from Maryland, we make them restrict it to Maryland. So we are going to make you choose among children.
[AM] Well, can I have my children answer for me? My favorite Maryland building… Gosh, I could come up with some things that are in a lot of different places. I’m going to stay within the Heritage Area and –
[AM] Keep safe, make sure I don’t offend too many people. I really love the Laurel Railroad Station. It is one of the few examples of the B&O Railroad station, it’s a mainline station. It’s a 1880 so it’s a little bit of a stick style, shingle style type of thing but in brick; and, it’s a really cool building. Just to be able to stay in there at the railroad and see this building. I’m sure I could have picked Glen Dale or Riversdale or a dozen other buildings but that one stands out to me because it’s got a neat railroad connection and it’s sort of unique.
[NR] There’s something about railroads. I’m looking over at our producer here, Stephen who sits in on all these, and there’s something about railroad stations because I think this is the third or fourth one –
[NR] That people… I guess transportation. The idea that you could take a train. Isn’t that novel?
[AM] I wish I could say it was the little tavern if it existed anymore, but I can’t say that so I’ll default to the railroad station.
[NR] Now, the railroad station, is it active?
[AM] It is active.
[NR] So you can go and catch a train there, too?
[AM] You can pick up the MARC station.
[NR] That’s pretty cool.
[AM] Yeah, it’s cool.
[NR] Well, it’s been a pleasure to have you in here.
[NR] We appreciate your partnership in this and your leadership as the executive producer of PreserveCast. And your leadership of course truly on the ground making the Anacostia Heritage Area a better place to live and to visit. So thanks for bearing with us today.
[AM] Thank you for having me.
This podcast was developed under a grant from the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, a unit of the National Park Service. Its contents are the sole responsibility of Preservation Maryland and the Maryland Milestones Heritage Area and do not necessarily represent the official position or policies of the National Park Service or the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training.
This week’s episode was produced and engineered by Stephen Israel. Our executive producer is Aaron Marcavitch. Our theme music is performed by the band Pretty Gritty. You can learn more about them at their website: PrettyGrittyMusic.com, on Facebook, or on Twitter @PG_PrettyGritty.
To learn about Preservation Maryland or this week’s guests, visit: PreservationMaryland.org. While there, you can check out our blog and learn about what’s current in historic preservation. We’re also on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and Twitter @PreservationMD. And of course, a very special thank you to our listeners. Keep preserving!
Route One has inspired many a Marylander — including Ali von Paris who founded Route One Apparel in her dorm room at the University of Maryland and is now a major Maryland apparel company still based in Maryland. Ali is a great supporter of historic preservation and Maryland pride and is a member of the Preservation Maryland board of directors.