Historic Preservation, Part II

Reading the chapters for this week showed me how much goes into historic preservation. Having no real background in it, I was amazed at how much goes into it, and how many different styles of it exist. Chapter seven gave a brief overview of the many styles of preservation. One thing mentioned in chapter seven that I important was “A guiding principle of good restoration practice is that an original element, even if in poor condition, is preferable to a replicated element (195). And a few lines later, the author took issue with Viollet-le-Duc’s interpretation that historic works should look how they were designed to be, which is confusing in itself. How many historic buildings that we take for granted as historic were altered to fit the designer’s assumption of what it should have been? There are a lot of recreated historic buildings in this country, how do we know if they are supposed to look that way or not? Examples spring to mind like Williamsburg and Jamestown. Sometimes the ruins are as important as the recreations. If Troy was reconstructed, or Knossos on Crete, would that really benefit more than the ruins? Although they are ruins, they are the original ruins. Should the Colosseum be renovated? I don’t believe so because you are taking away the originality of the building when you do that. If the Colosseum was rebuilt, it would not have been built in 80 CE, but in 2013. I think that is important to consider before jumping to the conclusion that we need a perfect visual of what the town, or building, looked like instead of the original foundations or ruins.


Another chapter that interested me was the chapter on historic significance, chapter five. The author proposed that McDonald’s is a historic building, and was added to the National Register (142). At first I was a little perplexed why McDonald’s of all places was historically significant. It’s one of many fast food restaurants in the country. Will Wal Mart and Best Buy become historic buildings on the National Register as well? I certainly hope not. However, I realized it represented something about life in 20th century America. Not only is McDonald’s popular, but it has become a part of our culture being one of the first fast food chains in America. Fast food, regardless of what one feels about it, is an important part of American culture. It represents the fast pace many of us live, and therefore is historically significant, for a positive or negative reason. Although I still find it odd to put it on the list, I understand in a way why it was added.

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