Historic Preservation

I had no idea that historic preservation efforts had to jump through so many hoops to get places of historic significance placed on a registry of some kind. I am continually surprised at the blase attitude the government seems to have toward preserving sites that are powerful reminders of our history. It seems to me that more emphasis should be placed on protecting these important landmarks. I was also not aware that being on a national registry for historic places did not offer protection from private or government projects that would impact the site in some way. It does not make much sense to force preservationists to go through months of paperwork only to have their registered site impacted negatively by someone else’s project.

I had not given much thought to why houses and other buildings tended to be described by their architectural style. Giving a historic building several layers of context is extremely important for understanding why it should be preserved. Knowing that a building is an original colonial style home helps to demonstrate the changes in architecture over time. I feel like the more important contextualization method is that of place. Regardless of what style each building in a particular neighborhood or city block happens to be, there is much to be learned from how those buildings interact with one another. How a city is planned and developed can tell you a lot about its people.

The threatened sites page on the Preservation Idaho site brought home some of these principles in a way that simply reading about them could not. Even if a building is not demolished for the sake of additional parking lots, covering it over with a facade or allowing it to simply fall apart though neglect does the same amount of damage to historic places. I imagine that it is difficult to provide the capital and man-power to maintain these sites when the city itself is actively working against a preservation effort.


3 thoughts on “Historic Preservation”

  1. The idea of preserving the context of space really resonated with me. A particular home or building could be the only thing left from its time, and therefore the only lasting glimpse of the way a city or neighborhood once was. I think some of our local places in need of preservation are perfect examples of this – Boise is changing and growing so quickly, and we should be careful not to lose elements of its history in our excitement.

  2. I totally agree with your last sentence. I love this topic, but I feel like without money or passionate people to do the work you’re stuck where you are. I see that scenario as a very real deterrant for even trying, unfortunately. Certainly, most places are hurting for money and I doubt many would consider preservation a priority. A pretty depressing thought for us history people.

  3. When I went to Arlington Cemetery going through Robert E. Lee’s house and slave quarters really puts you in the era of the Civil War. It shows the other side of how people were treated on three sides. One being the slaves, two being Robert E. Lee and his decision to fight for the south, and three Robert E. Lee’s family dealing with claims of tax evasion. Robert E. Lee’s house amongst the graves of the dead from multiple wars is a somber monument the effects of war. I agree with you on how a building can hold context, in a variety of ways, of its place in history.

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