The Recent Past Preservation Network (RPPN), a grassroots national non-profit organization, was orginally founded in 2000 in response to the proposed demolition of Richard Neutra’s Cyclorama Building at Gettysburg National Military Park in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. When other preservation organizations declined to come forward to protect the Cyclorama Building, a new coalition was formed.
Neutra's Cyclorama BuildingView from east/northeast. - Cyclorama Building, Gettysburg National Military Park. Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, PA-6709-69
In October 2000, this coalition, comprised of a collection of concerned preservationists, historians, and architects, became the Recent Past Preservation Network, a national non-profit organization connecting individuals with a passion for preserving our modern architectural heritage and particularly those places that are less than 50 years old, and thus not “historic” according to commonly used guidelines. Under the leadership of Richard Longstreth (Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation, George Washington University, and former president of the Society of Architectural Historians) and Michael Tomlan (Director, Graduate Program in Historic Preservation Planning, Cornell University, and Project Director, National Council for Preservation Education), and with a full slate of officers, RPPN built a national network dedicated to preserving resources from mid-century and beyond. Since its founding, RPPN has worked to promote awareness and preservation of important places from our recent heritage. These include not only works by nationally-recognized architects such as Gordon Bunshaft’s Manufacturers Hanover Trust Bank in Manhattan or Bertrand Goldberg’s Prentice Women’s Hospital in Chicago, but also locally important modern works such as a neighborhood school, diner, or park pavilion. In fact, RPPN is all about the local level. We take great pride in helping local preservationists promote and protect those places that are important to them and their community – places that are often overlooked because they aren’t of a high style design crafted by a nationally significant architect.
A RPPN-supported effort: Hogan's Fountain PavilionDesigned by Edward Jacob Schickli, Jr., the 'teepee' is located in Louisville, Kentucky's Olmsted-designed Cherokee Park.
RPPN firmly believes that these locally significant places contribute to the character and heritage of our communities just like any traditional nineteenth or early twentieth century resource or any resource designed by a nationally-recognized architect. As such, we’ve provided countless letters of support and advice to local preservationists and organizations fighting to save a community resource. In addition to providing advocacy support, RPPN has also actively engaged programming to promote preservation education. We produce a quarterly magazine featuring stories from historians, students, preservationists, and professionals throughout the country, provide exclusive access to invaluable resources such as Richard Longstreth’s Post World War II Bibliography and Kirk Huffaker’s Mid-Century Modern Banks, and maintain a digital database of electronic and print resources discussing resources from the post-World War II era to present. We’ve also sponsored or co-organized a number of educational activities over the years, including things such as a design charrette for Eero Saarinen’s Bell Labs, an educational series on Marcel Breuer’s Ameritrust Tower in Cleveland, and Looking Forward: Preservation in New England in the Twenty-First Century, hosted by Historic New England. Through it all, we’ve maintained a focus on providing accessible, relevant materials for those engaged at the local level. We continue to promote awareness and preservation of other resources throughout the country. With a renewed focus on the network, that is, connecting professionals, historians, activists, and students with an interest in studying and protecting the recent past, we look forward to providing support to you, our community, providing new educational materials, and leading the charge to promote awareness of the significance of resources from mid-century and beyond. Most importantly, we continue to recognize the importance of grassroots advocacy, our own organizational heritage, and welcome you to tell us your story, ask for help and join the cause.
The Recent Past Preservation Network promotes preservation, education, and advocacy to encourage a contextual understanding of our modern built environment.We actively seek to foster an ethic of understanding for our modernist and recent past resources, one that recognizes the cultural and architectural significance of these resources alongside traditional resources from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. Through our programming, we strive toward our vision of building a far-reaching and comprehensive network of professionals, historians, teachers, students, and interested parties engaged in protecting our recent heritage.
Our Team [The Board of Directors]
Aaron Marcavitch, Vice-President, is the Executive Director of Anacostia Trails Heritage Area, a certified Maryland Heritage Area. Aaron has a B.S. in Historic Preservation from Roger Williams University and a M.A. in History (Public) from Middle Tennessee State University. His research focuses on architectural elements of leisure, including amusement parks, camping, early automobile related buildings, hotels, and fast food buildings. His current work includes 20th century suburban development around the Washington, D.C. area.
Rebekah Dobrasko is a historic preservation specialist at the Texas Department of Transportation in Austin. She holds an M.A. in Public History from the University of South Carolina and a B.A. in History from Tulane University. Her ongoing research focuses on postwar school buildings and the intersection of race, desegregation, and modern architecture in school construction. Her research is detailed more on her website.
New York, New York
Frampton Tolbert is Deputy Director of the Historic Districts Council, a grassroots preservation advocacy organization in New York City. He has extensive fundraising and development experience working with a wide range of arts and preservation non-profits. He has a B.A. in Historic Preservation from Mary Washington College. He also serves on the board of the Victorian Society in America, Metropolitan Chapter.
Mike Gushard is the Heritage Outreach Coordinator for Oregon Heritage. In this role he coordinates and provides technical assistance to Oregonians about how to research, rehabilitate and capitalize on heritage resources in their communities. Before joining Oregon Heritage, he was Deputy Director of the Hawaii State Historic Preservation Division. While in Hawaii, he co-founded an island chapter of DoCoMoMo, a group devoted to the documentation and conservation of the modern movement. He has a BA in History with preservation studies from the University of Oregon, where he also attended for graduate studies in Historic Preservation. Mike’s experiences growing up in Southern California and working in Hawaii left him with a special sensitivity to unique and unorthodox historic resources. He hopes to see RPPN expand beyond modernism to other under-appreciated but significant resources from the not-so-distant past.
San Francisco, California
Erica Shultz received bachelor degrees in art history/studio art from Ithaca College, followed by a master of historic preservation from the University of Maryland, College Park. As a grad student, she worked with Profs. Mary Corbin Sies and Isabelle Gournay on their Modern Movement in Maryland Project. She is currently working as an architectural historian in San Francisco. She counts the campaign to save San Francisco’s fabulous late 1960s tiki bar, the Tonga Room, from demolition as one of her favorites.
Elizabeth Breiseth holds a B.A. in United States history from McGill University in Montreal and an M.A. in Historic Preservation from the George Washington University in Washington, D.C. She is currently a Senior Architectural Historian with URS Corporation. Elizabeth has extensive experience in the identification, documentation, and evaluation of cultural resources, historic resources surveys, architectural inventories, historic building research and documentation, the preparation of National Register of Historic Places nominations, local landmark reports, multiple property documentation forms, and historic architectural design guidelines. She is also an expert at conducting building condition surveys and preparing and advising on tax-advantaged historic building rehabilitations.
Elizabeth is an architectural historian in telecom conducting surveys throughout the Midwest for Section 106 compliance. She manages the Society of Architectural Historians Chicago Chapter social media presence, and am also a recently elected SAHCC board member. I am passionate about bringing technology into historic preservation, and bringing historic preservation to the broadest audience possible. During graduate school, she assisted Landmarks Illinois with a survey of recent past architecture in the suburbs of Chicago, which was the first of its’ kind in the state of Illinois. She notes that her first-ever paying job was given to me by my Uncle Jim, a longtime automotive photographer in Detroit, organizing his vast catalog of automotive ephemera, including plans for midcentury service stations, auto dealerships, and the Ford Rotunda.