Historic Preservation

Reading the first few chapters of Historic Preservation really shocked me, specifically the second one. I had no idea Independence Hall was saved from demolition, a scary thought. Then again incidents such as that happen today. Norman Tyler stated in the introduction that Americans in the last few decades have become aware of the importance of our historic structures (11). However, when we live in a city where a large portion of downtown’s history was destroyed to make room for modern buildings, it’s hard to see his point. Boise’s example is not unique either. In Northern California, the small town of Coloma ,where gold was discovered in 1849, relies solely on dedicated volunteers. Many of the buildings are neglected within the area, and for a time it seemed Coloma was going to decay and be forgotten. Thanks to volunteers the town is still a tourist attraction and historic park. A building near Coloma called the Bailey Mansion along CA Highway 49 is neglected and has a sign on the fence that says “Save the Bailey Mansion.” The windows are boarded up, and the building looks like it could fall apart. Maybe a reason for this is, as Tyler pointed out, a lack of understanding as to the importance of the building. Yes, knowing what occurred within a building is an important part of history, however many buildings whose histories are unknown should not simply be torn down. So I have a hard time seeing how Americans have moved towards respecting their historic buildings when cities across the country have undergone demolishing historic buildings to create space for a  shopping mall, or something similar. Maybe there is more respect now than there was before, since in the 19th century the wilderness was the focus, but it still seems there is not enough respect shown to our historic buildings.

As the blog on Preservation Nation showed, many sites in Boise are in danger of being demolished, and almost all of those listed have been neglected to some degree. That only strengthened my opinion that Tyler’s statement seemed a bit false. How many people in Boise even know about those buildings, or even care? More specifically, how many young people know or care? However, there are times when demolition is necessary, but many of the buildings on the list, specifically the old courthouse, should be cared for. It is hard to expect people to save a building, no matter how old, if the significance of the buildings seems unimportant. In that regards, Tyler is correct because without a significant purpose, it’s just another building to many people. Tyler brought up another point about architecture. The architecture of the building is historic in itself because certain styles represented certain times. Even though a building may have been unimportant inside, outside it reveals  historical significance. For that reason alone many buildings should not be torn down.

I did appreciate that Tyler mentioned the Presidio, a site I have visited many times, and its important to the city of San Francisco. It’s a beautiful location where the citizens of the city can enjoy themselves in a historic environment. It should serve as an example, and hopefully it already has.

 

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