Historic Preservation

Like others have mentioned in their blogs and by Norman Tyler, 1976 represented a crucial year in terms of United States history and historic preservation. 1976 was the bi-centennial anniversary of our nation, a time that prompted people to remember the history of the United States, both the good and the bad. This remembrance is seen in popular culture such as in the comic books of the day. Archie comic books devoted many stories to various historical figures, buildings, and events throughout their 1970’s stories. That popular culture items promote those ideas and things demonstrates a want or desire to hang onto our cultural heritage. Anniversaries or important dates help people to remember the past or reconnect with it; as important as 1976 stood out to people, for a nation 1966 represented a truly pivotal moment in American history. The National Historic Preservation Act in 1966 showed a step forward for historic preservation. This act had the goal of getting governments, both federal and local, to work together in order to preserve American cultural heritage for current and future generations. Boise stands as a good example of both a failure and success of the National Historic Preservation Act. So much of the cultural sites of Boise were torn down and either replaced or left as eyesores; I have heard some people argue that the buildings that replaced the demolished structures such as city hall are eyesores. A success of preservation in Boise is seen in the Basque community with the preservation of a prominent Basque family house. As others have mentioned historic preservation may convey a feeling of a pet project for historians in America, but I do believe there is a want on some portion of the populace, aside from many historians, on wanting to preserve their cultural heritage. In another class we were giving the opportunity to take an impromptu tour of an individual’s historical home, an individual who, outside of having a passion for history, has no connection to historians or to being a historian.

There feels like there will always be some sort of conflict in preserving historical buildings in the United States. The question that is associated with preserving buildings is the same question that museums deal with. What do we want to represent us? Learning a little bit about the hanging Indian mural located in Boise, I think this question is ever present within American society. Indians were hung in the Boise region that is a part of both the city and the state’s history. The hanging Indian mural also represents some of the difficulties in preserving our past. For some they merely want to show the past knowing that it will better future generations, for others portions of the past should be buried.

It was interesting to learn how architects worked with historic buildings in order to preserve them with new structures. That is definitely a topic I did not know very much about, but is something that is important to know about no matter who you are. At the end of the day, it is up to the community to help preserve the historic buildings within their area. Those buildings are of immediate cultural importance to them first, they live with them. In Boise, residents take pride in their Egyptian Theatre, Basque houses, and various other historical sites. It is through a solid grassroots effort in conjunction with the local and federal governments that will help preserve our heritage for future generations.

One thought on “Historic Preservation”

  1. David, I think the question of “what do we want to represent” in preserving buildings is extremely important. Do you think that is the first thing people should ask before they begin the process?

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