Richard Moe announced his intention today to retire as president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. In 17 years in that job Moe really transformed it. He worked wonders to give vitality to the effort to save great old buildings and places. Moe was crucial to the effort to save Mies van der Rohe’s famed Farnsworth House in Plano, Ill., which the Trust bought at auction six years ago in a partnership with Landmarks Illinois, which now operates the house as a landmark open to visitors. He also helped lead the successful fight to keep the Walt Disney company from building a giant theme park in Virginia’s Northern Piedmont region.
I know from my own time on the ground in New Orleans after Katrina that under Moe’s leadership the Trust was also a very active presence there, urging the city to rebuild in ways that respected its great architectural traditions. And the Trust’s annual list of the Eleven Most Endangered Historic Sites is an enormously useful way to focus attention on places that need to be defended. It certainly gets my attention.
Dick Moe is 72, so he has a right to move on if he wants to, but he’ll be staying for just a while longer, until the Trust can find a successor.