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Mightier Than a Wrecking Ball: How Ada Louise Huxtable Saved Salem

Architecture critic and industrial designer Ada Louise Huxtable on March 21, 1974. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaed from The LIFE Picture Collection and Getty Images

Architecture critic and industrial designer Ada Louise Huxtable on March 21, 1974. Photo by Alfred Eisenstaed from The LIFE Picture Collection and Getty Images

SALEM – The Peabody Essex Museum (PEM) will host a Historic Salem Inc. symposium on Friday, September 25, featuring prominent architecture critics, historians and experts to celebrate the legacy of The New York Times architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable.

In 1965, an urban renewal plan was set to build a four-lane road through what is now PEM’s Asian Garden. As many as 103 buildings across 39 acres of Salem’s historic core would have been razed for roadways and parking lots. An act of investigative journalism interrupted the wrecking ball.

Ada Louise Huxtable, renowned architecture critic and champion of preservation, published her landmark article of dissent in The New York Times decrying Salem’s urban renewal plans. Her advocacy became a harbinger of the National Preservation Act of 1966.

This symposium, conceived by Historic Salem Inc. and jointly sponsored by PEM, Historic New England and a grant from the National Trust, brings together prominent architecture critics, historians and experts to consider what almost happened in Salem — and how the issues at play in 1965 continue to be critical today.

A keynote address will be offered by Christopher Hawthorne, the architecture critic of The Los Angeles Times. A panel at the event will feature Eric Gibson, leisure and arts editor of The Wall Street Journal; Carl Nold, president and CEO of Historic New England; Elizabeth Padjen, former editor of Architecture Boston; and Donovan Rypkema, a development consultant and authority on the economics of preservation.

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When? Fri. September 25, 2015 from 1:30PM to 5PM

Where? The Peabody Essex Museum, 161 Essex Street, Salem, MA

Cost? PEM, Historic Salem and Historic New England members $40, nonmembers $45, includes museum admission

For reservations, call 978-542-1511. For more information about the Peabody Essex Museum, visit www.pem.org. Visit their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud accounts for announcements, updates, photos and more.

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PEM LogoThe Peabody Essex Museum is one of the oldest and fastest growing museums in North America. At its heart is a mission to transform people’s lives by broadening their perspectives, attitudes and knowledge of themselves and the wider world. PEM celebrates outstanding artistic and cultural creativity through exhibitions, programming and special events that emphasize cross-cultural connections and the vital importance of creative expression. Founded in 1799, the museum’s collection is among the finest of its kind boasting superlative works from around the globe and across time — including American art and architecture, Asian export art, photography, maritime art and history, as well as Native American, Oceanic and African art.

PEM’s campus affords a varied and unique visitor experience with hands-on creativity zones, interactive opportunities, performance spaces and historic properties, including Yin Yu Tang: A Chinese House, a 200-year-old house that is the only example of Chinese domestic architecture on display in the United States.

The museum is open Tuesday to Sunday from 10AM to 5PM and the third Thursday of every month until 9 pm. Closed Mondays (except holidays), Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year’s Day. Admission varies with adults for $18, seniors for $15, and students for $10. Additional admission to Yin Yu Tang is $5. Members, youth 17 and under and residents of Salem enjoy free general admission and free admission to Yin Yu Tang.

For more information about the Peabody Essex Museum, visit www.pem.org. Visit their Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and SoundCloud accounts for announcements, updates, photos and more.

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