Today, American Express and World Monuments Fund (WMF) announced $1.5 million in grant funding to support preservation efforts at nine historic sites. This is the second allocation from a $5 million, five-year grant to WMF from American Express to support the World Monuments Watch. Each of the nine locations was among the at-risk historic sites included on the 2014 Watch, announced in October 2013. American Express is founding sponsor of the Watch program.
Projects receiving funding are Pokfulam Village in Hong Kong (SAR), China; the churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette in Paris, France; the Farnese Aviaries in Rome, Italy; Tenyuji Temple, Ogatsu, Japan; Fundidora Park in Monterrey, Mexico; the Güell Pavilions in Barcelona, Spain; the House of Wonders in Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania; Battersea Power Station in London, United Kingdom; and Sulgrave Manor in Sulgrave, United Kingdom.
"The longstanding support of American Express to the World Monuments Watch has resulted in preservation work at more than 150 sites in over 60 countries," said WMF President Bonnie Burnham. "The sites on the 2014 Watch that will receive support are extraordinary places whose preservation will benefit both local populations and visitors from around the world."
"American Express remains committed to preserving and sustaining endangered treasures around the globe through the World Monuments Watch," said Timothy McClimon, President of the American Express Foundation. "These historic places are tied to their nation's identity and our grant funding will help ensure our world's incredibly rich history can be experienced by future generations."
Historic sites selected to receive grant funding include:
- Pokfulam Village, Hong Kong (SAR), China: A small village perched on a hillside in the west of Hong Kong Island, Pokfulam is characterized by narrow lanes and alleys twisting around small traditional buildings and newer structures. This remarkable survivor is now facing pressure from urban redevelopment plans. Stringent squatter control policies make it hard for villagers to repair their dwellings, as they are required to use materials that were registered at the time of the last occupancy survey, which was conducted in the 1980s.
The American Express award will support the restoration of a nineteenth-century stone house that will serve as a model conservation project for the village and become a visitor and community history center.
- Churches of Saint Merri and Notre-Dame-de-Lorette, Paris, France: The Church of Saint Merri was built in the late-Gothic style during the first half of the sixteenth century, just as Renaissance taste was taking hold in Paris. The church is very similar in plan to Notre-Dame Cathedral. The Church of Notre-Dame-de-Lorette was built between 1823 and 1836 to designs by Louis-Hippolyte Lebas. Its neoclassical design is typical of the period in which it was conceived, and was inspired by the plans of ancient Christian basilicas.
The American Express award will support diagnostic structural reports, as well as restoration work on nineteenth-century paintings, in both churches.
- The Farnese Aviaries, Rome, Italy: The sixteenth-century Farnese Aviaries date to a time when Rome's leading aristocratic families controlled the land on the Palatine Hill. Most of the Renaissance-era architecture is long gone, but the aviaries and associated gardens survive. The gardens were created on top of rich archaeological remains, including the first-century Palace of Tiberius, and lost much of their form with archaeological excavations starting in the late nineteenth century. The gardens were restored, but the aviaries have stayed untouched for more than half a century, and, due to prolonged lack of maintenance, the architectural surfaces are now in a highly deteriorated condition.
The American Express award will support a comprehensive conservation treatment of the entire structure with the intent to open the building to the public at the conclusion of the work. It will be the final phase of an overall vision to interpret the remains of the Renaissance-era Farnese Gardens, including the Casina Farnese, the aviaries, and the nymphaeum.
- Tenyuji Temple, Ogatsu, Japan: The eighteenth-century Tenyuji Temple is of major historic and religious importance to a community that was decimated by the 2011 Tōhoku earthquake and tsunami. The temple collapsed in the disaster, but enough of it survives to restore it to its original use and revive its central place in a still-rebuilding community.
The American Express award will support the restoration of the main hall of the building, an act that will serve as an inspiration and a powerful symbol of possibility for other rebuilding communities in the region.
- Fundidora Park, Monterrey, Mexico: Fundidora Park is an industrial archaeology museum and public park in the heart of Monterrey. Originally developed as the site of the Compañia Fundidora de Fierro y Acero de Monterrey, a steel foundry established in 1900, this former industrial center now serves a recreational and educational purpose for the city and its visitors. After the foundry closed in 1986, one of the buildings on the site, Horno Alto No. 3, became a science and technology center managed by a nonprofit organization known as horno3.
The American Express award will support an awareness-raising campaign designed to create a sustainable level of support to maintain the park's central place in the community of Monterrey. Many of the buildings face conservation problems, so increasing awareness and visitor numbers will assist in raising revenues to support preservation activities.
- The Güell Pavilions, Barcelona, Spain: The Güell Pavilions in Barcelona's Pedralbes neighborhood, built between 1883 and 1887, are an early work by Antoni Gaudí (1852–1926) designed for Eusebi Güell, who was the young architect's most important patron. Gaudí designed two pavilions, a stable, and a gatekeeper's lodge on either side of an elaborate wrought-iron gate that led into the expansive Güell estate. The design was inspired by the myth of the Garden of the Hesperides, which, in a poetic retelling by Jacint Verdaguer that was popular with Gaudí and the Güell family, was interwoven with the history of the origin of the Catalan people. The buildings contain many elements of Gaudí's signature building style.
The American Express award will support the restoration of the buildings and garden, now owned by the University of Barcelona, and make them more accessible to the general public. The gatekeeper's house will be turned into a visitor center to promote this and other less-known Gaudí works in Barcelona.
- The House of Wonders, Stone Town, Zanzibar, Tanzania: Once the most modern building in East Africa—the first to have electricity and an elevator, and fusing elements of European and Zanzibari styles—the House of Wonders has been a fixture of Stone Town's seafront since it was completed in 1883. The building currently houses exhibitions relating to Swahili culture, but despite high visitation and acknowledged importance, it is in poor condition. In November 2012, part of one of the balconies collapsed, threatening the building's overall structural integrity.
The American Express award will support a survey and report on the structural integrity of the building in order to prepare it for restoration work.
- Battersea Power Station, London, United Kingdom: Sir Giles Gilbert Scott's graceful Art Deco Battersea Power Station defines the Thames just west of the Houses of Parliament in London. The building's streamlined exterior design and Art Deco interiors, coupled with the engineering achievements of its turbine and heating systems, are a testament to the structure's extraordinary significance. It is a historic fixture of the London skyline, and has shown up across popular British culture, making it one of the city's great symbolic cultural icons.
The American Express award will support awareness-raising public programs.
- Sulgrave Manor, Sulgrave, United Kingdom: Located in a small village in Northamptonshire, Sulgrave Manor is a sixteenth-century structure built by Lawrence Washington, a direct ancestor of George Washington, the first U.S. president. The manor house complex consists of the Tudor-style manor, a barn, brewhouse, buttery, and shop, and contains an extensive collection of sixteenth-century furniture and objects. Today the house is open to the public and is used for educational programs, but it faces a number of conservation challenges that threaten the collections.
The American Express award will assist with thatching historic buildings on the property to return them to an improved state of conservation and make them more accessible for use as an integrated part of the experience of visiting Sulgrave Manor.
Launched in 1996 and issued every two years, the World Monuments Watch calls international attention to threatened cultural heritage sites around the world. Watch listing provides an opportunity for sites and their nominators to raise public awareness, foster local participation, advance innovation and collaboration, and demonstrate effective solutions. The process also serves as a vehicle for requesting World Monuments Fund assistance for select projects.
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World Monuments Fund
World Monuments Fund's mission is to protect against the loss of the world's architectural heritage, including the built environment, the artistic elements that enhance it, and the cultural traditions that it sustains. WMF builds global partnerships to conserve key cultural sites in response to urgent threats, and broadens public understanding about the central importance of heritage in our lives. Its work makes historic places accessible and sustainable, builds and replenishes skills needed to care for heritage, and communicates the benefits of this work to the global public.
Headquartered in New York, WMF has offices and affiliates worldwide. wmf.org, twitter.com/worldmonuments, and facebook.com/worldmonuments.