Historic Preservation I

Historic preservation is certainly an interesting topic to explore. On the outside, it seems as though the decision process is as simple as: there’s a building…something important happened there…let’s save it. The reality is much more complex as the actual physical location is not the entire story. History must play an integral and primary role in historic preservation. Other factors must also be considered such as Niki’s question of to which era is a building restored? If you have multiple events of historic significance, which takes precedence?

I liked the analogy that Tyler used when referring to buildings as representing both nouns and verbs. I think that this is an important distinction to make when considering how and why a building should be saved from destruction. In distinguishing the different perspectives on preservation, Tyler highlights the Chinese who “do not consider the preservation of physical structures as critical.” (Chapter 1)* As others have mentioned in their blog posts and in class, almost nothing remains of the Chinese who used to live in Boise. However, considering the point of view raised in the previous quote, would the preservation of their homes and businesses (done by outsiders) merely have been the superimposition of another group’s value system?

The role of urban renewal with historic preservation is a complicated one. There must be new growth and development to sustain society, but the prevailing view that took hold during this time period – that “old was bad and new was good” (Chapter 2)* – actually caused more problems. Boise lost many beautiful downtown structures as city leaders attempted to modernize.  Although steps have been taken to ensure that history is preserved, the question of whose history and what history is preserved still remain.

*Page # not available as I am using the iBooks version of the text.

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