Can We Restore It? Yes we can!

I enjoyed the second half of this book much more than the first half. Honestly, I was kind of dreading the reading another week’s worth of this book, but it transformed into a text that I’ll actually probably use in my day-to-day work.

“Can you tell me about my home’s history?” is probably the number one research request sent to me by members of the public. Prior to reading this section I was mostly relying on newspapers, Sanborn Maps, tract & ownership records, and homestead records. I didn’t even know the HABS/HAER/HALS collections existed (p. 207-210). So helpful!

If you have not yet had a chance, be sure to check out the resources in the rear of the book. There is an illustrated guide to architectural terms and a list of useful preservation websites. I only wish they would have included a list of lingo commonly used by architects to describe words like restoration or heritage areas.

“Indeed, much of the historic integrity of a structure can be lost through inappropriate work, even when the goal is restoration.” (p. 189) When I read this I couldn’t help but giggle and think about the Ecce Homo fresco in Spain that got “restored” in 2012. Interestingly, the botched restoration ended up attracting tourists and boosting the local economy. I think cases like this help drive home the point Tyler et. al. make in the heritage tourism chapter (p. 322). Sure Ecce Homo is drawing in crowds now, but if the little town doesn’t develop a tourism plan beyond its temporary popularity as a meme, then what will draw in future visitors in 50 or 100 years? Do you think it’s okay to use gimmicks like these in order to spark a long-term tourist plan? Is it opportunity knocking, or just tasteless?

The section on saving rural places really surprised me, as I didn’t know anybody cared about these spaces (p.294). Every time I drive out to The Village at Meridian, I see old tiny farms being devoured by the new development. As the population continues to grow in “rural” states like Idaho & Wyoming, I expect this situation will become increasingly common. I’d be curious to learn more about Oregon’s sprawl slowing laws and how we could begin implementing them early here in Idaho.

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