I’ve always been interested in historic preservation and was thrilled when we were assigned this book. So far it has been an excellent introduction into the field and has provoked quite a bit of thought.
At first I was slightly taken aback when in chapter one there was a brief discussion about Clem Labine and his “seminal article from 1979 titled ‘Preservationists Are Un-American’” (12). While I think Labine was slightly over top in his rhetoric, there is some merit behind what he is saying about our society’s mentality. I agree that culturally, some Americans abide by the traditional “pioneer way…to use it up [and] throw it out” (12). I often find myself fighting tooth and nail with Parks and Recreation with their seemingly never-ending desire to tear down historically relevant structures to put in a skate park. It’s not a threat; it is a promise when I tell them I will chain myself to the Jensen Farm House if they attempt to tear it down. (After all, my mother promised the same thing to protest nuclear submarines first arriving at Bangor Base in Silverdale, Washington. Ironically, her future husband and my father, was working on those same nukes she was protesting, thus exemplifying my strange childhood.) Nevertheless, chapter one brought to light the frame of mind some Americans have to look only to our future, while not sufficiently consulting the past.
I also thought the section of the differing philosophies of preservation was fascinating. The discussion cemented my wanting to research into the different philosophies and contrasting two for my final paper. I think the research will prove beneficial in defining my own preservation philosophy and also provide an avenue to find the philosophy that best suits my thesis project.
I also found the terminology of all the preservation political entities at the local, state, and federal levels as well as their roles were extremely helpful for anyone attempting or thinking about getting funding for a project.