John Stubbs Lecture on Architectural Preservation

The Cause of Architectural Preservation 

The Friends of Robinson Gardens and their guests were very honored to have Professor John H. Stubbs present a marvelous lecture on architectural preservation. Professor Stubbs is considered one of the top people in his field. Among his many accomplishments, he served as Vice President for Field Programs at the World Monuments Fund where he was instrumental in establishing the Watch List of endangered sites world-wide.

Focusing on historic preservation in America, Dr. John Stubbs explained that the first real traceable effort occurred in Philadelphia at Independence Hall. Due to the “stupendous” event that occurred there — the signing of The Declaration of Independence, the local citizens saw that it was “worth preserving.” “Thanks to their efforts, it became an icon in the hearts and minds of many Americans,” Dr. Stubbs explained.

In 1854, when Congress did not want to restore Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington in Virginia, several enterprising ladies “took the bull by the horns” and accomplished it themselves. They accurately restored the beautiful interiors and, in addition, they made a commitment to maintain the entire estate encompassing the gardens, servants’ quarters and other buildings.

Another important historic landmark, Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia was restored with funds that were generously donated by John D. Rockfeller Jr. Professor Stubbs explained that “Williamsburg did wonders for raising awareness of American history, and it was a landmark in the history of restoration.”  He  also showed us slides of beautiful sites in Charleston, South Carolina and New Orleans. Creating “an awesome multiplier effect,” the beauty of these restorations inspired others all over the country to preserve their history.  As an example, Professor Stubbs presented the High Line in New York’s lower Westside. It was an abandoned railway that was repurposed by the community. It is now a beautifully landscaped, elevated park with a view of the Hudson River. This improvement led to high end stores moving nearby. Furthermore, the addition of the new Renzo Piano-designed Whitney Museum facing the High Line richly revitalized the area as well. Professor Stubbs has given workshops on tax incentives to restore these types of urban areas.

A very passionate advocate for architectural preservation, Professor Stubbs explained that “we have a huge debt to our predecessors; it is our responsibility to pick up the mantle. The reward is that the cause is so right, the material and the people so wonderful.” Dr.  Stubbs is presently working with Friends member Janice Jerde to preserve Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesen West in Arizona, which was recently nominated for inclusion on the Unesco World Heritage List.  Professor Stubbs ended the lecture by exclaiming “I was given the best tour of Robinson Gardens by Maralee Beck; I just love this place!”

We then had delicious hors d’oeuvres and desserts in the Rose Garden. Beautiful bouquets of sunflowers and chrysanthemums infused the scene with an autumnal splendor. Thank you to our amazing co-chairs Marian Power and Janice Jerde for organizing such an inspiring event for us to enjoy!

To learn more about John H. Stubbs’ research and writings, go to:

Post by Linda Meadows
Member of Friends of Robinson Gardens



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