Greetings from Washington DC! I’m in DC this week for the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual Staff Planning Week. The staff from Headquarters and regional offices and historic sites gather for a week of workshops, training, and discussion on the National Trust’s plans for the upcoming year. I’ll be going to some great sessions while I’m here, including training on setting up a Facebook account for Villa Finale. I’m not sure I’m hip enough for that, but we’ll see.
While I’m here I’ll be joining with several other National Trust Historic Site directors to give a session on new directions for historic sites. This is a hot topic in the field these days, as many historic sites are struggling, both financially and in finding an audience in their community. Historic sites are finding that the best way to be sustainable institutions is to serve their local communities, rather than relying only on the tourist audience and the old “velvet rope” tour. This is something the Villa Finale staff is really taking to heart. While we will of course offer tours of the house and grounds (how could we not share the interior of Villa Finale? It’s amazing!), we also hope to be deeply involved in San Antonio’s historic neighborhoods – those around the city as well as King William – by continuing the type of neighborhood preservation work that Walter Mathis took such initiative in. It’s something we’re all very excited about, so I think I’ll save the details for a later blog entry.
Until then, I’ll be trying to stay cool while I’m here. It’s going to be 99 here today – which doesn’t sound much different than home but when you factor in the humidity of DC, we’ve got heat indexes nearing 110. Can’t wait to get back to shady King William!