Thoughts on Readings No. 5

The readings this week were extremely informative. I immensely enjoyed the readings, but the Tyler book provided almost an overload of information, especially for someone unfamiliar with the topic. What I gathered from the readings is that preserving our history is a complicated process with a lot of different players. Since the book presented so much new information to me, and because of my ignorance regarding all of the agencies and laws, I hesitate to argue a point this week. There is an abundance of information that needs to be understood in order to comprehend what historic preservation entails and how it operates in the U.S., and I am still a baby novice when it comes to this comprehension.

Some questions that arose for me during the readings were about the ideas of progress. Perceptions of progress seem to be at the root of whether a building is preserved, and in what ways that preservation is handled. Is progress mutually exclusive from preservation, and will there always be people who feel that an old building isn’t worth quite as much as a new one? I also questioned whether all the guidelines, procedures, and boards help or hinder historic preservation? Would comprehensive legislation be more effective? In looking at Boise, we still have a lot of work to do in terms of preservation. I can say that a city department is currently working on preserving the Central Addition and a house on River Street. Local activist Jon Bertram has been coordinating effectively with the V.A. to preserve the oldest building on Fort Boise, but this is not enough. The 1970s was a bad time for Boise and little historic gems are still disappearing all the time from our neighborhoods.

Concepts that Tyler touched upon that stood out for me were his assertion that “Preservationists need to recognize that the preservation of historic buildings should include not only the physical structure, but also the history of the place.” I think this is a profound concept, and one I don’t see manifested frequently. The concept of contextualism was also very compelling, and perhaps the agreement can be made that contextualism provides for aesthetically pleasing and more well-functioning neighborhoods. However, no matter how one feels about preservation there is still a need to engage and educate the public regarding history. Although agreement may not be the outcome, public education and engagement will least lead us to a more thoughtful dialogue on the issues.

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