Historic Pres pt. II

I think I was on the same page as everyone else regarding this reading-  I loved the second half of the Tyler book and had to start dog-earring pages after I ran out of sticky tabs.

I was glad the text explained the National Register Criteria, Criteria for Exclusion, and types of intervention which I had attempted to explain and botched in class last week. One thing I found interesting was that they mentioned in passing the 50-year rule, but didn’t go into notable exceptions as much… surely there are better examples than the original McDonald’s from 1953. In my mind, very notable structures can gain huge historic significance very quickly if some sort of event of national or global significance occurs there. Obviously 50 years is an arbitrary number. Another intriguing idea was that an owner would request for a property to lose its designation, which is generally not allowed. I wondered at why a property owner would request to be de-designated, especially after learning how designation doesn’t provide any real protection or obstacles for making changes to a property. Perhaps it is due to the same misunderstanding that people have about not wanting to designate properties in the first place. In fact, these misguided concerns were laid out very clearly as possible basis of opposition to the designation of historic districts later on in the text, though these were more concerned with ideas of profit loss at a business level.

The chapter on preservation technology (ch. 7) was helpful from the get-go at answering many of the questions I had raised last week about what exactly one does when they work in preservation, and what the qualifications are. This explanation was both disheartening and encouraging : “Work in the field of preservation technology is multidisciplinary, involving architects, engineers, planners, archeologists, architectural and object conservators, curators, educators, managers, tradespeople, historians, contractors, technicians, and students” (p. 189). Obviously this is an overwhelmingly technically skilled, professional group of tradesmen/women. The very small sliver of hope for us MAHR folks, then, is as conservator, curator, or historian. Of course even conservation technology/skill is something that each of us would need to learn through specific field training. The research and documentation of historic properties, on the other hand, is something each of us is very equipped to handle. My first thought in reading this was “well this is what Kaci does on a daily basis.” Though Tyler gave a great overview of the different resources that are used in historic property research, he was less detailed in telling us how or why this research is even necessary, what it is used for, how to find the previous research, etc. I think this was a missed opportunity as this information is not only subject of federal programs like HABS but invaluable in gaining designation, lobbying against new development, and building a case for preservation to begin with.

Tyler also mentioned the examples of Uluru and Sangre de Cristo Mountains as culturally significant landscapes, and that many times indigenous peoples fight for usage limitations for these types of landscapes. Something that we discussed in my CRM course that was interesting was that not only can these groups lobby to protect the sites themselves, but the skyline of the greater area surrounding these sites, or any adjacent areas of development for having an environmental impact on trails used to access these sites, noise pollution, or disturbing the view. Some of this information is a bit foggy so if Dr. Green comes to our class this might be something to discuss.

I was also impressed at Tyler’s treatment of rural preservation and countering urban sprawl. I had always heard about urban sprawl as a problem-child of rural-turned-suburban areas, especially growing up in Meridian/Eagle, but I never realized there were actually actions being taken to prevent it. This discussion also gave us a really useful background discussion if we end up using it as one of our conversation topics for Common Grounds.

Lastly, the chapter on heritage tourism (ch. 11) was my personal favorite, since history and travel are my biggest passions. I loved the idea of improving sight-seeing tourism with living history interpretations and history and culture-based introductions of cities rather than superficial sight-seeing based tourism, which could be considered sort of the facadism of heritage tourism. Anytime I go to a new city for the first time, I like to do a quick bus tour, usually with a hop-on hop-off component to get my bearings of the geography and a quick overview of the history, development, and different districts of the place. Though these are always a great introduction to a new place, the most memorable of these will always be the tour I took in Savannah, when I showed my mom the city on her first trip. It was completely unexpected, but we had probably 4 or 5 “characters” join us on our tour, including Forrest Gump and a confederate soldier. I was also fascinated by the case study of Cape Hatteras lighthouse. Though I visited the site about a year and a half ago, I either didn’t learn or didn’t remember that they actually moved the entire structure a half mile inland due to coastal erosion. Considering the steep cost of $12 million, I wonder why they didn’t move it even further to prevent having to move it again in the not-so-distant future. I can imagine part of it has to do with making sure it is still in its coastal context.

 

One thought on “Historic Pres pt. II”

  1. Your mention of “characters” reminded me of the “surprise hitchhiker” who portrays Thomas Edison and boards tour buses at Edison’s winter home in Florida (322). I thought that was an innovative way to interact with visitors.

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