By Chloe Martin
This summer Greater Portland Landmarks was fortunate to have two interns, Liz King and Anastasia Azenaro-Moore. Surveying Portland’s Oakdale neighborhood was their major collaboration and not only did they record important information about this unique neighborhood, they also had an opportunity share knowledge and experience with each other. They both observed that the city is trying to understand the same questions they tackle in their academic studies: how and where do historic preservation, gentrification, housing, and public use all collide? Landmarks was lucky to spend a summer with these dynamic women and the future of historic preservation looks bright.
Meet Liz King
“Growing up in New England historic preservation was always in the background,” noted Liz King, one of Greater Portland Landmark’s summer interns. Liz grew up in an 18th century house in an historic neighborhood of Haverhill, Massachusetts, that her parents rehabilitated. Her dad used old photographs of lost historic structures as inspiration for an addition to their home. She noticed the stamp of the original owner on the floor boards. They were frequent visitors to historic sites such as the Rebecca Nurse House, famous for its role in the Salem Witch Trials. As a teenager she was “heartbroken” to watch nearby Danvers State Hospital torn down.
After High School Liz pursued her passion for graphic design at the Massachusetts College of Art but was still searching for the right career path. She finally realized the answer had been in front of her (or in the background) all along. Currently, Liz is a student in the University of Vermont’s graduate program for Historic Preservation. She appreciates how her keen eye for design made it easier for her to grasp the architectural theory, “it seems like two very different fields that don’t have a lot of overlap, but the fundamentals behind them have some back and forth.”
Becoming an intern at Greater Portland Landmarks was a natural fit. Liz’s mother, the descendent of Irish and Italian immigrants, grew up on Munjoy Hill. In Liz’s first week at Landmarks she attended the historic house gala and spent eight hours helping hundreds of visitors during the annual Flag Day celebration at the Portland Observatory. When Landmarks needed a brochure for the historic bicycle ride, Liz offered her graphic design talents to create a re-useable guide for the special event. She shared her design talents again when she and her fellow intern, Anastasia, presented their survey work of Portland’s Oakdale neighborhood to the trustees. As Liz researched all the award recipients for the Preservation Awards on September 28, she quickly became an expert in some of the most interesting preservation projects in greater Portland.
Liz admires how Landmarks helped a passionate community create the India Street historic district. Between her time in Boston, Haverhill, Portland, and Vermont, she notices how historic preservation means different things to rural and urban communities. The activism and concerns in each setting differ but Liz’s work doesn’t, “I have a common interest in both areas of community development and in keeping communities involved and invested in whatever is going on.” She sees this enthusiasm in the friends groups for Lincoln Park and Eastern Promenade. Liz returns this fall to UVM to complete her degree and apply what she has learned to her studies. She is already missed at Landmarks, but hints at coming back to the area. This region needs more young, thoughtful, community-oriented historic preservationists like her.
Meet Anastasia Azenaro-Moore
Actually, chances are high you’ve already met Anastasia Azenaro-Moore around town. She was one of Greater Portland Landmarks’ summer interns but that’s not all. In June she interned with TempoArt which got her involved with Friends of Lincoln Park where Judith’s Hoffman’s steel sculpture is installed. She works at the Portland Museum of Art and is a site manager at The Victoria Mansion. All this is on top of being a full time remote student in the Savannah College of Art and Design historic preservation graduate program.
Studying remotely made sense to this Maine native and University of Southern Maine graduate because she wanted to gain the expertise but is invested in Portland. During her undergraduate degree she took a course on American Homes and knew her career focus had changed. She is drawn to historic preservation because “you’re like an action hero, you are saving something…working towards a greater goal.” Anastasia adds “I know that to get the most of my graduate education I will have to figure out the tools to make this happen…and foster my own network of resources, seeking out the experts and change makers in the city I live.”
Her work on the survey of Portland’s Oakdale neighborhood with Liz showed her how rich the former streetcar suburbs are with interesting architecture and stories. Entering the survey results into the State’s database was satisfying, because it makes it possible in the future for others use the information she created. Anastasia hopes that the historic preservation strides made by Greater Portland Landmarks can be a model for the rest of Maine. Because preservation has been in Portland’s consciousness since the1960s much of the downtown is protected by historic districts and now the preservation scope can expand to saving different types of structures, houses, and landscapes.
Anastasia believes it is important that historic preservation keeps “thinking outside of the box.” She appreciates that Landmarks is championing the immigration stories of the India Street neighborhood and House Island by helping them become historic districts. She wants to figure out how more people can become aware of “the rehabilitated buildings, the historic interiors, the cool places to see, and how these places can be more accessible for the community.” Anastasia hopes she can eventually work at the federal level, for example at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In the meantime, Portland is lucky to have her enthusiastic energy spread all over town working “towards a greater goal,” with a true passion for preservation.