An article yesterday misstated the membership of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. The organization has 270,000 members. (Published 10/19/1999)
There will be no trip to the Mall for these tourists.
Instead they may see a tree under which President Lincoln sat, tour the home of the founder of the National Council of Negro Women and see one of the nation's first shopping centers, built in 1930.
In keeping with the tradition of the annual conference held by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, emphasis for the 3,000 convention-goers this week will be on the neighborhoods of the host city. The six-day conference, headquartered at the Mayflower Hotel on Connecticut Avenue NW, opens tomorrow with a walking tour of nearby Dupont Circle and closes with a bus tour of historic cemeteries.
Trust President Richard Moe said news accounts that have emphasised street crime in Washington have created a "misimpression" across the country. "We are eager to get members into the neighborhoods and away from the Mall and monuments, into Shaw and Anacostia, into places where preservation is going on," he said. "We want people to get a much more accurate sense of what this area is all about."
On their choice of a dozen tours, conference members will board buses to see Maryland and Virginia sights, including an African American heritage tour in Prince George's County and vintage garden apartments in Arlington County. They will also see the tree on the grounds of the Soldiers' and Airmen's Home under which Lincoln sat and Mary McLeod Bethune's home on Vermont Avenue NW.
The trust, headquartered in Washington since its founding 50 years ago, is a private, nonprofit membership organization dedicated to preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods and their landscapes, as well as revitalizing cities. Chartered by Congress, it owns or operates 20 historic sites and has more than 27,000 members.
The conference will offer workshops on preserving commerce in historic districts, complying with the Americans With Disabilities Act and the challenge of accommodating wireless telephone transmitters and towers in historic landscapes.
Members can eat breakfast while listening to talks on heritage tourism or barn preservation. Lunch can have the added attraction of a talk by Jefferson Memorial Foundation President Daniel Jordan or discussions by experts on revolving funds.
In the evening there are numerous receptions, some sponsored by Gays, Lesbians and Friends in Preservation, the University of Vermont Alumni or the National Council of Preservation Executives.
At a black-tie dinner Thursday, first lady Hillary Rodham Clinton will be saluted for her work as honorary chairwoman of Save America's Treasures, a partnership project of the White House Millennium Council and the trust. The $350-a-ticket affair will be held at the National Building Museum at Fourth and F streets NW that was originally built as the Pension Building for Civil War veterans.
Moe said the trust puts together its schedule of tours, lectures and events by working closely with local preservation groups and the D.C. Heritage Tourism Coalition, which is offering tours of Duke Ellington's Washington as part of the conference.
The coalition, said Executive Director Kathryn Smith, is an organization of 75 public and private groups and agencies that support neighborhood and thematic tours.
Washington is the perfect place for conference members to explore, she said. "We have 600 places on the [federal] historic register and 60 museums," she said. "We have military history, Latino history, African American history. We have parks and gardens."
Bob Peck, public building service commissioner for the General Services Administration, one of the sponsors of the conference, said Washington residents tend not to appreciate what they have in their neighborhoods. Peck was raised in Congress Heights in Southeast Washington. He has lived for many years in Northwest Washington, first at Logan Circle and now in Chevy Chase, D.C.
"Maybe it will take an influx of outsiders," he said, "to convince Washingtonians what a wonderful area we have in our midst."