Historic Preservation (II)

This week’s readings brought us some of the nitty-gritty details of historic preservation. I am still very much a novice to this field, so I’ll keep this book handy if I ever become involved with saving a historic building. I found the following three items especially helpful for understanding this field:

  1. There are criteria for buildings to NOT be considered for historic recognition. I never thought, for example, about the significance of moving a building to its importance for designating it historic. Christs Chapel on the BSU campus for example was moved two or three times. I wonder how that affects its significance as a historic place?
  2. The evaluation of significance, in terms of age, style, unaltered, historical. This was  a nice tool for me to comprehend how to rank buildings for historical significance. From what I gathered, historic preservation is more of an art than a science. In many ways we are dealing with human emotion, so coming up with a rubric like the significance thermometer help preservationists determine historic designations. It also helps the public understand the decision process.
  3. The Dedesignation process is a tool to keep the integrity of the National Historic Landmarks. As the book said history is not static. Many of the buildings on the NHL are still being used in some sort of day-to-day operation. It is important to designate buildings, but it is also important to delist buildings that were significantly altered. This sends a message to building owners that they have an active part in preserving their building’s history.

After reading these chapters, I feel the historic preservation field is much better off now than it used to be. It seems there is a good system in place for preserving historic buildings. Yes, some structures may fall through the cracks – Boise’s schools in the bench neighborhoods for example, but overall these mechanisms are working. I must admit though, after browsing the application process on the National Register website I am a bit dismayed by the idea of submitting one of these applications!

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