preservation

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KAYAPO COURAGE: “The Amazon tribe has beaten back ranchers and gold miners and famously stopped a dam. Now its leaders must fight again or risk losing a way of life.” ~ Chip Brown.  photography by Martin Schoeller - full story & gallery via National Geographic (January 2014)

  • “YNHIRE expresses his identity as a warrior with a headdress of parrot feathers.”
  • “BEPRO wears the beads and cotton-wrapped earrings that boys receive as part of their naming ceremony.”
  • “ROPNI, an internationally known chief, is one of the few Kayapo who still wear the mahogany lip plate.”
  • “PHNH-OTI has an inverted V shaved into her scalp, a ceremonial female practice.”
  • “BEPRAN-TI wears an impressive display of feathers for his betrothal ceremony, a Kayapo rite of passage.”
  • “MEKARON-TI, the great chief, speaks Portuguese and is a powerful advocate for his people.”

Grand entryway of the Waldo Hotel, in Clarksburg, WV, as seen from the mezzanine.  The Waldo was once among the crown jewels of this part of the state; by the 1960s it was in serious decline, and it has now been neglected to the point that preservation could prove difficult.  For more on this historic hotel (including dozens of photos), take a look at my blog post on the Waldo.

Print available here.

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This is the second-floor hallway in the abandoned 1864 Surgeon’s Residence (designated “Building R1”) on the campus of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Hospital.  Designed before electrical lighting - or indeed, prevalent gas lighting - a skylight illuminated the hallway in the early days of this building’s use, and now once again, during its abandonment.  The skylight continues up through the attic to a large cupola on the roof, which allows ample light to stream into the hall.  The hallway of the servant’s quarters, in the rear of the building, had no such appointment.  Thankfully, this Second Empire mansion - a National Historic Landmark - is in a state of controlled preservation.

Print available here.

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PEP (Persons of Exceptional Prominence) Spot Light:  Lieutenant (JG) Harriet Pickens (1909-1969) & Ensign Frances Wills (1916-1998)

In honor of African American Women’s History Month, we are highlighting the first two African American women who were commissioned as officers in the US Navy.  Lieutenant Pickens and Ensign Wills were commissioned in the United States Navy on December 21, 1944.

Lieutenant Harriet Pickens, a public health administrator with a master’s degree in Political Science from Columbia University, was the daughter of William Pickens, one of the founders of the NAACP.  Prior to her military service, Harriet was the Executive Secretary of the Harlem Tuberculosis and Health Committee of the New York Tuberculosis and Health Association.  In addition to this position, she was a supervisor of recreation programs in the New Deal’s WPA (Works Project Administration). 

Ensign Frances Wills was a native of Philadelphia and graduate of Hunter College.  While Frances pursued her MA in Social Work at the University of Pittsburgh, she worked with famed African American poet, Langston Hughes.  She worked in an adoption agency, placing children in adoptive homes.   Her experiences as a pioneering naval officer led Frances to eventually write the book Navy Blue and Other Colors under her married name, Frances Wills Thorpe.

Obviously, these were two accomplished and well educated women, highly qualified to serve their country as military officers in time of war.  It was only their race that stood in their way and the remarkable pair would help to tear that barrier down.  They were sworn in as apprentice seamen in the US Navy in November 1944. 

After receiving their commissions a month later, both Harriet and Frances serviced at the Hunter Naval Training Station in Bronx, NY, the main training facility for enlisted WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service) recruits.  Harriet Pickens led physical training sessions up until her death in 1969 at the age of 60.  Frances Wills taught naval history and administered classification tests.  She died in 1998.

Lieutenant Pickens’ and Ensign Wills’ military files are two of the records in our PEPs (Persons of Exceptional Prominence) collection at the National Archives at St. Louis. Due to the high volume of attention and research on their military career, Lieutenant Pickens and Ensign Wills’ record was placed in the PEP collection and digitally copied. The Preservation Programs at St. Louis treats and stabilizes PEP records by placing the documents in polyester film sleeves, removing fasteners and staples and undertaking any required repair actions that will extend the life of the documents. An entire record is then scanned and placed on DVDs so researchers can access exact replicas, thus preventing damage to the original documents.

We are proud to highlight the lives and achievements of these two courageous women who in the face of segregation and hatred overcame and changed the face of the United States Navy forever.

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Andrew Ghrist x PangeaSeed.

PangeaSeed and special guest artist Andrew Ghrist are releasing the sixth official print of their 2015 print suite, “Tales from the Deep: Stories, Myths & Monsters,” a yearly, 12 part print series (See their other releases) devoted to helping save the world’s seas.

The print goes live today (Wednesday, June 17th, 2015) at 12PM PST and will be available in PangeaSeed’s Online Store and is an edition of 140, signed and numbered 18″ x 24″ screen prints.

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Daybreak in the Beury Building Penthouse, 2012.  The National Bank of North Philadelphia - now commonly referred to as the Beury Building - is a National Register of Historic Places-listed building that has been abandoned since the early 1980s.  Originally a lavish 11-story Art Deco bank tower, it was later converted for mixed-use, including a 3-story Penthouse on top, crowned by a pyramidal roof.  The now-14-story building is the largest in North Philly, and the only significant Art Deco building left in the entire city.  And yet, it has been left to rot for 30 years.  Pictured here is the top floor of the Penthouse during the Blue Hour, when the first strains of daylight were lazily reaching the sky.

Reaching the Penthouse is another matter, and anything but lazy - the stairs are almost completely gone, and only a set of dodgy wooden planks separates the climber from a painful (or deadly) fall of between 1-4 stories.  The building owners who commissioned me to photograph the tower for some “before renovation” photos advised me that I did not need to photograph this section as it was “inaccessible”.  Of course, I “accessed” it.  In the top image, a wide view of this floor, the glass of the windows long since broken out.  In the center image, an individual viewing window.  And in the bottom image, a detail of the view out the same window - whoever once lived here had a wonderful view of a once-affluent neighborhood, now dominated by liquor stores, pawn shops, and shady characters.  This view was worth the sketchy climb.

Print of top photograph available here.
Print of middle photograph available here.
Print of bottom photograph available here.

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While the Hotel Columbia has been abandoned for over a decade, one would hardly know this to look at it - many rooms look more or less like this, somewhat disheveled, but hardly in the state of advanced decay that most of the buildings I study are.  Still, as can be inferred from the red carpeting and the bathroom design pictured here, it has been much longer than a decade since anything was done to update the decor… Sadly, while the Columbia is certainly in salvageable condition, the Korean investment conglomerate that owns it wants it as a tax shelter and nothing more - there are currently no plans to save the building, and soon enough, water damage will make rehabilitation prohibitively expensive.

Print available here.

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