Are we a Preservation Nation?

This topic makes it hard to pick a side, at the moment. After reading the chapters in the book (and skimming a bit), I can understand the arguments of he majority of the people mentioned, contradictory though they may be. In the very beginning of the book, when Clem Labine is quoted as writing “Preservationists are Un-American,” ummm… He explains he reasoning well in his argument, however the whole thing seemed just a tad dramatized; perhaps it’s just the terminlology used, such as “preservationist oppose the conventional American idea of consuming ever more….we are the the wave of pioneers.” It felt a little like a Western. Or one of those movies where you leave feeling like you can conquer the world.
I very much enjoyed the Shakespearean ideals of “The past is prologue,” and breaking apart the word ~preserve~ in order to evalute its ‘deeper meaning.’ The idea of seeing buildings as verbs provided a really great visual; I started picturing buildings that were known for something when it was built, though it may be used for something else now; example: Turnerverein Building.
The argument between Eugene Emmanuel Voillet-le-Duc and Paul Leon is what really got me thinking. Voilett-le-Duc was interested not only in preserving the buildings that told stories of the past, but perhaps building them as the were meant to be. Leon saw preservation as more of an insult to the architects of the past, and the signatures the generations that came before left on a place. Ruskin felt the same, yet seemingly a bit more angered by the thought of preservation. While I agree that a building’s “glory is in its age,” comparing preservation to botox it an odd argument to make.
Admittedly, I have never been able to identify a building’s architectural style by the design of the columns or the font used at the entrance. If I looked at it and concentrated, it would probably come to me, but I wouldn’t be the first person to ask the style of something. The bad part about not being able to identify a building’s style is that it hinders my ability to evaluate when it was built–separate from its surroundings. If compared to other sites that have known information, etc., I would be able to do so; but alas, architectural dating on the spot is not my forte. This means it takes me longer (unless the date is on the building) than some others to place it in the needed historical context to evaluate its importance and usability then and now, much like the Timberline kids did with the BAP. There were some things I would have liked to see, but there is always another year, and they followed the criteria quite well!
For someone who skims I tend to write a lot.
The end.

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Kate Hall

Born and raised in Boise, love it here. I love travel, history, Star Wars, Lost Boys, Highlander, and Super Nintendo. My favorite shirts say "My Other Ride Has A Flux Capacitor" and "Rock out with your Bach out." Basically, I would technically, I suppose, be classified as a 'nerd,' which I love. I currently intern at City Hall for the Department of Arts and History, mostly doing oral histories, but sometimes I get a cool research project. After I gradute I'll look for a job in History, find something to tide me over until then, and wait until education jobs are better in Idaho. =) Super excited about the chance to create a mobile application, been thinking I just loooove Leslie's classes (are you reading this?) =) Guess that's all! Perhaps more than you wanted, perhaps less. Perhaps I, myself, am caught betwixt the ideas of the two extremes and have decided to leave it as a cliffhanger of sorts.....

One thought on “Are we a Preservation Nation?”

  1. I’m right there with you Kate with the struggle to identify a building’s architectural style. I thought the book was really helpful in explaining the differences between the different styles, though the nerd that I am wanted more information. I guess the book did it’s job to spur further reading and research.

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