A FASCINATION WITH PRESERVATION
|The West Gate Entrance to Tower Grove Park in St. Louis, otherwise known as the Gatekeeper's House. |
But I knew it as home for most of my childhood -- I was the girl who lived in the castle on Kingshighway.
My father, August Fogt, worked at the park 30 years, retiring as the landscape foreman in 1987.
My parents met at the 1,050th anniversary of the founding of my mother’s hometown of Mettmann, Germany.
I spent most of my childhood living in a house that was built in 1870.
I pull over at every historic marker when I’m on a road trip.
So it should come as no surprise that I’m an ardent supporter of historic preservation.
|My brother Norman and I at our house in Tower Grove Park, around 1962|
When I found out San Antonio’s Office of Historic Preservation was launching an advocacy group, my interest was piqued.
And when I found out the new group, the Power of Preservation, was having its inaugural gala at the former Mission Road Power Plant, my eyes got big.
And when I found out that they were looking for a photographer, I jumped up, waved my arms wildly and yelled, “Me! Me!! Pick me!”
Well, the jumping, waving and yelling only happened in my head. At least, I think so. But unlike the dodgeball team in grade school, they picked me! They picked me!
The gala, known as the "Power of Preservation PROMenade," was set for Oct. 25. To get people thinking about the event, brilliant minds came up with the cool idea of temporary "Power of Preservation" tattoos. They hoped to get civic leaders and preservation enthusiasts sporting the tattoos; their photos would be used as promos for the event, plus as decorations at the gala itself.
|San Antonio's Mayor Julián Castro|
|Phil Hardberger, mayor of San Antonio 2005 to 2009|
|Howard Peak, mayor of San Antonio 1997-2001|
That’s where I stepped in. For several weeks in September and October, I shot photos of folks like Mayor Julián Castro, and former mayors Lila Cockrell, Howard Peak and Phil Hardberger. City Manager Sheryl Sculley and Police Chief William McManus. The staffs of historic sites and members of the San Antonio Conservation Society.
I shot most of the photos in front of a vintage poster of the Mission Road Power Plant when it was in its prime. Others were out on location, like Phil Hardberger at his namesake park or Mayor Castro in front of City Hall.
|Lila Cockrell, mayor of San Antonio 1977-81 and again from 1989-1991|
My favorite shot was of Lila Cockrell. She picked the location – her beloved and beautifully restored Japanese Tea Garden at Brackenridge Park. It was a serendipitous spot for me as well, since this was one of the places I visited during my first trip to San Antonio in 1974. I was a high school senior on a recruiting trip to then-Incarnate Word College, but that’s a subject for another blog post for another day.
In talking with the OHP staff, I found out that the planning committee was meeting at the gala site weekly leading up to the event. Because the power plant had been closed for several years and was anything but gala-ready, the committee met with vendors and other pertinent players on a regular basis to ensure the structure would shine the evening of Oct. 25.
Of course, when I found out the power plant would be open I may or may not have jumped up and down again yelling, “Can I shoot photos?? Can I please? Please?!”
…so there I was one sunny Thursday morning in September, armed with my camera and plenty of preservation attitude.
|The entrance to the former Mission Road Power Plant|
|Inside the power plant|
|Inside the power plant|
I was pretty much alone in the massive structure for about an hour as the committee met outdoors to discuss their plans. I happily documented every nook, cranny and angle I could get to. By the smile on my face when I emerged, you would have thought I was exiting King Tut’s Tomb.
And just when I thought the experience couldn’t get any better, Shanon Miller, the city’s Historic Preservation Officer, told me of an idea they had for the PROM – strong vertical photos of historic architectural elements that would be enlarged to 3’ x 10’ banners. Would I be interested in shooting those photos?
And remember to breathe!
|St. Joseph's Catholic Church on Commerce St. in San Antonio|
|One of the towers of the former Municipal Auditorium, soon to be the|
Tobin Center for the Performing Arts
Tattoos. An abandoned power plant. Architectural treasures of San Antonio. And most importantly, people who care about preservation. They all combined to make the evening of Oct. 25 one to remember.
The experience was surreal and genuine all at the same time. The inaugural Power of Preservation PROMenade was a huge success by all accounts, and I’m proud to have played a role.
And when they start to plan the 2nd annual event, you know I’ll be there…jumping up and down and yelling…
Pick me! Pick me!
Special thanks to:
Andi Rodriguez for offering me the amazing opportunity to get involved with the Power of Preservation;
Shanon Miller and Cory Edwards of the Office of Historic Preservation for everything you did to make this such a rewarding and fun experience;
Mark Arnold for always indulging me when I go on photo shoots -- you sit alone for much of the evening when we go to live music, you wait for me in the car when I wander off with my camera, and you always pull over at every historical marker...even when I don't ask;
and most of all, thank you to my wonderful, sweet father, who instilled a love and appreciation of preservation in me at a young age.
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