US - Historic Park Slope church needs money to fix sanctuary ceiling

US - Photographer Records Abandomed Asylums

MORGUES, blood vials and deserted halls: straight from the set of your favourite horror movie, John Gray captures America’s abandoned asylums in the states of New England.

Gray has spent 12 years wandering around old abandoned hospitals and asylums capturing these haunting glimpses of the past for his new book.

In an effort to preserve these sometimes troubled footnotes of history Gray did what many could not - investigating the rooms camera-in-hand.

Patient records, old morgues and iron lungs are just a few discoveries he made along the way.

UK - 'Demolition By Negelect' Property Seized By Local Authority

A firm that owns a historic building in Swindon that used to educate railway workers has been dissolved.

Companies House has confirmed that Forefront Estates Ltd, owners of the Grade II* listed Mechanics Institute, has been struck off for failing to file its accounts on time.

The company’s director, Matthew Singh, bought the building in 2003 for £500,000 and planned to develop it.

In 2010 the council seized the property in order to carry out urgent works.

'Owner to blame'

According to a Swindon Borough Council spokesman, the authority is owed an estimated £1.2m for the urgent and dangerous repair works it carried out on the 150-year-old-building.

But he said it is going to be difficult getting the money back.

He said: “The council has never owned the building - the owner is to blame, he had a clear duty not to allow the building to deteriorate and he evaded his responsibility and the public pocket picked up the bill.”

The Mechanics’ Institute opened in 1854 as an educational centre for railway workers, but closed in 1986 and has stood empty ever since.

"It’s exceptionally difficult finding a viable use for it," said the spokesman.

"It’s in an appalling condition, it’s full of asbestos, there’s lead paint and the basement is flooded - it will cost a fortune to clean up and the council can’t afford to restore it."

He said the council would be trying very hard to come up with a future plan for the building and was talking to the Mechanics Institution Trust to “explore every possible avenue” for a viable use.

US - Repaving with Brick in Murfreesboro

This story isn’t just another brick in the wall. It’s a brick in the sidewalk —literally — and a small victory for the people.

When the city of Murfreesboro put in new sidewalks along East Main Street a few years ago, it pulled up bricks that had been there for decades if not more than a hundred years. And though the bricks were in the public right of way, some residents thought it was a violation of the East Main Historical Zone or at least a poor decision to uproot part of the city’s history and replace it with concrete, without seeking residents’ opinion.

Fast-forward to 2012, and the same thing could have happened with the $4.2 million Maney Avenue public works project.But MTSU criminal justice professor Lance Selva refused to let it happen to him.

Selva raised enough ruckus about the potential removal of historic bricks in his sidewalk at the corner of Maney and North College Street that the city finally agreed to a compromise.

Instead of putting in faux bricks or pavers, city leaders gave the contractor, Deweese Construction, approval to pull up Selva’s old bricks, put in concrete liners at a new street grade, along with keeping parts of aged stone liners, and relay the old bricks in the new sidewalk.

Initially, city leaders were loath to agree to such a job, afraid that they would set a precedent making everyone think their old sidewalk bricks would be relaid as part of city projects.

But Selva paid the cost up front of relaying the bricks, making the decision easier for city officials worried about every nickel and dime.

India - Government To Privatize Heritage Structures

In a bid to preserve heritage structures in the state, which are not being properly maintained, the Gujarat government is coming out with a policy for privatisation of heritage structures, a senior official said.

The state government has identified around 30 heritage structures, which do not fall under the ambit of Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), for the purpose.

“The policy for privatisation of public heritage structures is almost finalised, and will be notified shortly. The policy will help in proper maintenance of a large number of heritage structures, and also in attracting more tourists to such places,” Vipul Mittra, principal secretary, tourism department, told DNA.

The Maqbara in Junagadh, Rani No Hajiro in Ahmedabad, Badhsha No Hajiro in Ahmedabad, and Lakhtar Fort in Surendranagar are some of the prominent heritage structures which have been identified by government.

“There are other heritage structures too, particularly in Saurashtra, which have been identified for privatisation,” Mittra said.

US - NY Historic Sites still recovering from Hurricaine Irene, One Year Later

A single line of blue duct tape wrapped around Old Fort Johnson marks where the floodwaters crested when Tropical Storm Irene swept through the Mohawk River community a year ago. The tape is almost 7 feet above the National Historic Landmark’s grassy lawn.

The 18th century homestead and its nearby contemporaries, Guy Park Manor in Amsterdam and Schoharie Crossing near Fort Hunter, were inundated when the storm came through Aug. 28, 2011.

Irene left little untouched in southern and eastern New York, as elsewhere along the Eastern seaboard when the hurricane-then-tropical storm struck, taking lives and causing billions of dollars in damage.

US - Fort Valley residents fight for historic Coke plant

Bottled up love of Fort Valley’s history has exploded into a classic battle between a developer and the community.

City Council will meet Monday to decide whether to stick with the Historic Preservation Commission’s decision to deny the demolition of a former Coca-Cola bottling plant. Business owner Danny Strickland wants to build a Wendy’s in its place.

Strickland, a Kathleen resident who owns a Wendy’s in Cochran, said he was two months into plans for a new location when he found out the unkept, vacant building he intended to demolish was considered historic.

“If I had known it was in a historic district, I would never have made an offer,” Strickland said.

Canada - Richars Serra "Shift" Earthwork Sculpture under Heritage Review

UK - Smart Water coating to foil metal theves

Police are stepping up a campaign against metal thieves by marking a Rhondda school with a special liquid.

They painted parts of Tonypandy Primary School with SmartWater, a liquid that is invisible to the naked eye but can be seen with a UV light.

It cannot be washed off and has a unique code registered to the property.

Campaign group Metal Snatchers have taken action after part of the school’s roof was stolen causing an estimated £20,000 worth of damage.

Metal Snatchers includes Rhondda Cynon Taf council and South Wales Police.

Classrooms were damaged after lead flashing and tiles were taken.

Earlier this month, thieves stole about 6m of lead flashing from the rooftop and some tiles.

SmartWater has been widely used on more than 30,000 churches and heritage buildings across the UK.

UK - Giant ribbon stunt at Park House restaurant 'illegal'

A businessman who wrapped a giant red ribbon around his restaurant has been told to remove it by council officials.

Adam Pledger, 34, put up the 19m (65ft) red bow on the listed building to attract customers to the Park House in Cardiff city centre.

He said the Grade 1 listed property had not been damaged.

UK - Port Eynon: 4.5 tonne anchor from Agnes Jack shipwreck stolen

A 4.5 tonne anchor from an historic wreck off the Gower in south Wales has been stolen from a boat club yard.

The SS Agnes Jack, a Liverpool steamer, sank off Port Eynon Point in 1883, and the tragedy led to the creation of Port Eynon lifeboat.

A year ago divers recovered the anchor and gave it to Port Eynon Boat Club to become a focal point on a roundabout.

Club officials believe the 3m anchor was lifted away by a crane or something similar and it may be sold for scrap.

Club secretary Geoffrey Payne said: “It’s our heritage. They just took it.

"The thieves couldn’t just pick it up and take it away because it was so heavy. They would have probably needed a crane or some mechanical means.

"It’ll probably be sold for scrap."

UK - An agreement to safeguard a historic country house in Midlothian is being signed

An agreement to safeguard a historic country house in Midlothian is being signed later.

Mavisbank House was the first palladian villa to be built in Scotland but has been lying derelict since a fire swept through it almost 40 years ago.

Historic Scotland and Midlothian Council will sign an agreement on Tuesday to compulsorily purchase the Category A property.

They then plan to transfer ownership of the house to a local trust.

Mavisbank House, near the town of Bonnyrigg, was designed by William Adam in 1722.

It is described by Historic Scotland as one of the country’s most important houses because of its architectural heritage.

It was gutted by a fire in 1974, but the Mavisbank Preservation Trust said it was confident it could restore the building.

The house is privately owned but its owners remain a mystery.

UK - Vandals damage 2,500-year-old Scarborough Castle

Police are hunting vandals after “considerable damage” was caused to the 2,500 year-old Scarborough Castle.

North Yorkshire Police said “extensive damage has been caused to parts of the castle including damage to Roman stonework, metal post caps were removed and sign posts have been damaged.”