Historic preservation

Historic preservation

Historic preservation or heritage conservation is a professional endeavor that seeks to preserve the ability of older (e.g., "historic") objects to communicate an intended meaning. This meaning is rooted in cultural and social processes that negotiate how the authenticity of the historical object should be expressed. More recently historic preservation has subsumed issues of healthy living, sustainability, and green building to justify the retention of the older built environment.

These "objects" can consist of any kind of cultural material of any scale, from something microscopic to the scale of entire landscapes. Traditionally, however, historic preservation has been interpreted to only apply to individual buildings. It is this definition that is most commonly accepted by the public even though there are listings that include the grounds, such as Seagate, and sites that have become historic parks, such as Morristown National Historical Park.

Although historic preservation is practiced around the world, the term "historic preservation" is only used in the United States. Other English-speaking countries will use the term "heritage conservation" in a broad sense and "architectural conservation" in a narrow sense when dealing specifically with buildings. Other terminology that is used includes "urban conservation," "landscape preservation," "built environment conservation," "built heritage conservation," "object conservation," and "immovable object conservation."


In England, Antiquarian interests were a familiar gentleman's pursuit since the mid 17th century, developing in tandem with the rise in scientific curiosity. Fellows of the Royal Society were often also Fellows of the Society of AntiquariesFact|date=March 2007. The UK's Ancient Monuments Act of 1913 officially preserved certain decayed and obsolete structures of intrinsic historical and associative interest, just as Modernism was lending moral authority to destruction of the built heritage in the name of progress.Fact|date=March 2007 The UK's National Trust began with the preservation of historic houses and has steadily increased its scope. In the UK's subsequent Town and Country Planning Act 1944, and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, steps were taken toward historic preservation on an unprecedented scale.Fact|date=March 2007 Concern about the demolition of historic buildings arose in institutions such as the pressure group The Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings, which appealed against demolition and neglect on a case by case basis. [ [http://www.sphb.org.uk Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings] ]

In The United States one of the first historic preservation efforts was the
Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site, in Newburgh, New York. It was the first-ever property designated as a historic site by a U.S. state.Another early Historic Preservation undertaking was that of George Washington's Mount Vernon in 1858. [Lea, Diane. "America's Preservation Ethos: A Tribute to Enduring Ideals." "A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the Twenty-First Century." ed. Robert Stipe. Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2003. p.2] Founded in 1889, the Richmond, Virginia-based Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities was the United States' first statewide historic preservation group.Fact|date=March 2007 [http://apva.org/aboutus/ (accessed 15 August 2008 )] The architectural firm of Simons & Lapham (Albert Simons and Samuel Lapham) was influential in creating the first historic presrvation ordinance in Charleston, South Carolina in 1930. The Vieux Carre (French Quarter in New Orleans was the second historic preservation ordinance. [Blevins, "Documentation of the Architecture of the Architecture of Samuel Lapham and the Firm of Simons & Lapham", Masters of Fine Arts in Historic Preservation Thesis, Savannah College of Art & Design, 2001]

The US National Trust for Historic Preservation, another privately funded non-profit organization, began in 1949 with a handful of privileged structures and has developed goals that provide "leadership, education, advocacy, and resources to save America's diverse historic places and revitalize our communities" according to the Trust's mission statement. In 1951 the Trust assumed responsibility for its first museum property, Woodlawn Plantation in northern Virginia. Twenty-eight sites in all have subsequently become part of the National Trust, representing the cultural diversity of American history. In New York City, the destruction of Pennsylvania Station in 1964 shocked many in that city into supporting preservation. On an international level, the New York-based World Monuments Fund was founded in 1965 to preserve historic sites all over the world.

Under the direction of James Marston Fitch, the first advanced-degree historic preservation program began at Columbia University in 1964. [Murtagh, William J. "Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America". New York: Sterling Publishing, Co., 1997.] It became the model on which most other graduate historic preservation programs were created. [Michael Tomlan. "Historic Preservation Education: Alongside Architecture in Academia." "Journal of Architectural Education", Vol. 47, No. 4. (1994): 187-196. ] Many other programs were to follow before 1980: M.A. in Preservation Planning from Cornell (1975); M.S. in Historic Preservation from the University of Vermont (1975); M.S. in Historic Preservation Studies from Boston University (1976); M.S. in Historic Preservation from Eastern Michigan University (1979) and M.F.A. in Historic Preservation was one of the original programs at Savannah College of Art & Design [www.scad.edu --~~~~] . The M.Sc. in Building Conservation degree program is offered by the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. The first undergraduate programs (B.A.) appeared in 1977 from Goucher College and Roger Williams College, followed by Mary Washington College in 1979. ["Preservation News" (Oct 1, 1979)]

Historic districts

A historic district in the United States is a group of buildings, properties or sites that have been designated by one of several entities on different levels as historically or architecturally significant. Buildings, structures, objects and sites within a historic district are normally divided into two categories, contributing and non-contributing. Districts greatly vary in size, some having hundreds of structures while others have just a few.

The U.S. federal government designates historic districts through the U.S. Department of Interior, under the auspices of the National Park Service. Federally designated historic districts are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. [http://www.cr.nps.gov/hps/workingonthepast/toolbox1.htm Federal, State and Local Historic Districts] , TOOLBOX, FAQ, National Park Service. Retrieved 19 February 2007]

A similar concept exists in the United Kingdom: a Conservation area is designated in accordance with the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 in order to protect a zone in which there are buildings of architectural or cultural heritage interest.

Historic parks

The department of the interior designated several areas of Morristown, New Jersey as the first historic park in the United States national park system. It became designated as the Morristown National Historical Park. [http://www.nps.gov/morr/] The community had permanent settlements that date to 1715, is termed the military capital of the American Revolution, and contains many designations of sites and locations. The park includes three major sites in Morristown.

Preserving historic landscapes

The United States led the world in the creation of National Parks, areas of unspoiled natural wilderness, where the intrusion of civilization are intentionally minimal.Fact|date=March 2007

In addition to preserving the natural heritage, the U.S. Park Service also maintains the National Register of Historic Places to recognize significant buildings and places, including historic parks, battlefields, National Historic Landmarks, memorials and monuments.

Landscapes and sites of outstanding universal value can be designated as World Heritage Sites. A requirement of such designation is that the designating nation has appropriate legislation in place to preserve them.

Canadian approaches to heritage conservation

In Canada, the phrase “heritage preservation” is sometimes seen as a specific approach to the treatment of historic places and sites, rather than a general concept of conservation. “Conservation” is taken as the more general term, referring to all actions or processes that are aimed at safeguarding the character-defining elements of a cultural resource so as to retain its heritage value and extend its physical life.

Two of the primary conservation tools in Canada's Historic Places Initiative are the Canadian Register of Historic Places and the "Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada". This document was the result of a major collaborative effort among federal, provincial, territorial and municipal governments, heritage conservation professionals, heritage developers and many individual Canadians. A pan–Canadian collaboration, it is intended to reinforce the development of a culture of conservation in Canada, which will continue to find a unique expression in each of the jurisdictions and regions of the country. In the document, conservation approaches are broken down into three categories: Preservation, Rehabilitation, and Restoration. As published in the "Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada", these conservation approaches are defined as follows: [http://www.historicplaces.ca/nor-sta/request.aspx?page=sec2/page2b_e Standards and Guidelines - Definitions of Some Key Terms] , "Canada's Historic Places". Retrieved 30 March 2007.]

Preservation: the action or process of protecting, maintaining, and/or stabilizing the existing materials, form, and integrity of a historic place or of an individual component, while protecting its heritage value. Preservation can include both short-term and interim measures to protect or stabilize the place, as well as long-term actions to retard deterioration or prevent damage so that the place can be kept serviceable through routine maintenance and minimal repair, rather than extensive replacement and new construction.
Rehabilitation: the action or process of making possible a continuing or compatible contemporary use of a historic place or an individual component, through repair, alterations, and/ or additions, while protecting its heritage value.
Restoration: the action or process of accurately revealing, recovering or representing the state of a historic place or of an individual component, as it appeared at a particular period in its history, while protecting its heritage value.

Influential people

* Ann Pamela Cunningham: saved Mount Vernon (plantation) from demolition and created the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association.
* James Marston Fitch: educator, author, critic and design practitioner made a major contribution to the philosophical basis of the modern preservation movement and trained and inspired generations of preservationists.
* William Morris: founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
* W. Brown Morton: Author of "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation and Illustrated Guidelines for Rehabilitating Historic Buildings".
* William J. Murtagh: first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in the United States and significant contributor to the literature of the discipline [http://www.aia.org/nwsltr_hrc.cfm?pagename=hrc_a_20060317_murtaugh]
* Lee H. Nelson: worked for Charles E. Peterson at the National Park Service's Historic American Buildings Survey and helped to formulate national policies on historic preservation.
* Charles E. Peterson: considered to be the "founding father" of historic preservation in the United States.
* John Ruskin: established the basic theory of preservation (retention of status quo).
* Eugène Viollet-le-Duc: well known French architect that restored Gothic buildings; believed that restoration could improve on the past--especially with the introduction of modern technology.
* Walter Muir Whitehill: Chair of the Whitehill Report in the late 1960s which established the first guidelines for higher-ed historic preservation programs.


Although volunteers have traditionally engaged in historic preservation activities, since the 1960s, the field has seen an increased level of professionalization. Today, there are many career options in historic preservation. Institutes of secondary education (universities, colleges, etc.) in the United States offer both certificate and degree (A.A.S, B.A., B.F.A., B.S., M.A., M.F.A., M.S., and PhD) programs in historic preservation. [ [http://www.uvm.edu/histpres/ncpe/chart.html National Council for Preservation Education - Academic Programs in Historic Preservation ] ] Some students—at schools with such programs available—choose to enroll in "joint degree" programs, earning a degree in historic preservation along with one in another, related subject, often an MArch, MUP or JD degree.

Possible career fields include:
* Architectural Conservator
* Historic preservation planner (local/county/state level)
* State Historic Preservation Officer
* Preservation Architect
* Preservation Engineer
* Resource interpreters
* Public Historian
* Historic site administrator
* Consultant for Section 106 reviews in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
* Director or staff of a local, regional, statewide, or national preservation non-profit such as the National Trust for Historic Preservation
* Traditional trades practitioner.



* Fitch, James Marston. "Historic Preservation: Curatorial Management of the Built World." Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia, 1990.
* Jokilehto, Jukka. "A History of Architectural Conservation." Oxford, UK: Butterwort/Heinemann, 1999.
* Munoz Vinas, Salvador. "Contemporary Theory of Conservation." Amsterdam: Elsevier/Butterworth Heinemann, 2005.
* Page, Max & Randall Mason (eds.). "Giving Preservation a History." New York: Routledge, 2004.
* Price, Nicholas Stanley et al. (eds.). "Historical and Philosophical Issues in the Conservation of Cultural Heritage." Los Angeles: The Getty Conservation Institute, 1996.
* Ruskin, John. "The Seven Lamps of Architecture." New York: Dover Publications, 1989. Originally published, 1880. Important for preservation theory introduced in the section, "The Lamp of Memory."
* Stipe, Robert E. (ed.). "A Richer Heritage: Historic Preservation in the Twenty-First Century." Chapel Hill, NC: The University of North Carolina Press, 2003.
* Tyler, Norman. "Historic Preservation: An Introduction to its History, Principles, and Practice." New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2000.
* Viollet-le-Duc, Eugène Emmanuel. "The Foundations of Architecture; Selections from the Dictionnaire Raisonné." New York: George Braziller, 1990. Originally published, 1854. Important for its introduction of restoration theory.

See also

*Architectural conservation
*Adaptive reuse
*List of historic houses
*Mill conversion
*National Register of Historic Places
*National Trust, containing a listing of National Trusts worldwide
*World Heritage Sites
*World Monuments Fund

External links

* [http://www.nal.usda.gov/ric/ricpubs/preserve.html Historic Preservation Resources]
* [http://www.baltimoresun.com/news/local/annearundel/bal-ar.historic30nov30,0,6363083.story The Annapolis Collection] Story from Baltimore Sun
* [http://www.preservationnation.org/ National Trust for Historic Preservation]
* [http://www.preservationnation.org/about-us/press-room/speeches/sustainable-stewardship-scully.html National Trust for Historic Preservation] Speech by 2007 Vincent Scully Prize winner Richard Moe about historic preservation with regards to "green" buildings
* [http://www.ncptt.nps.gov/ National Center for Preservation Technology and Training] : A National Park Service research center that provides progressive technology-based research and training.
* [http://www.achp.gov/ Advisory Council on Historic Preservation]
* [http://www.historicplaces.ca/nor-sta/norm-stan_e.aspx Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada]
* [http://www.preservenet.cornell.edu/ PreserveNet] : A Cornell-affiliated web page designed to provide preservationists with a comprehensive database of regularly updated internet resources and current professional opportunities.
* [http://www.preservationdirectory.com/ PreservationDirectory.com] : A resource for historic preservation, building restoration and cultural resource management in the US and Canada
* [http://www.apti.org The Association for Preservation Technology International] (APT): is a cross-disciplinary, membership organization dedicated to promoting the best technology for conserving historic structures and their settings.
* [http://www.iptw.org Preservation Trades Network] (PTN): membership community organization focused on traditional trades practitioners and allied professionals in the international preservation industry
* [http://newspapers.library.cornell.edu/collect/PRN/index.html "Preservation News" ] Vol. 1 (1961) - Vol. 35 no. 1 (Feb/March 1995). Monthly publication of the Preservation Press of the National Trust for Historic Preservation of the United States.
* [http://www.ncpe.us/ National Council for Preservation Education] : (NCPE) Guide to over fifty academic programs in historic preservation and allied fields in the United States and other information
* [http://www.vlib.us/history/preservation.html WWW-VL US Historic Preservation] Virtual Library of resources for preservation, including green LEED examples
* [http://rmc.library.cornell.edu/EAD/htmldocs/RMM04327.html Guide to the National Historic Preservation Program Oral Histories, 1986-1987]
* [http://www.wmf.org World Monuments Fund]

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