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Preservation ⛬ Historic preservation priorities: Age? Significance? Architecture?

John Yoegel

Welcome back Earl. Glad you had a good time. Your trip and my own memories of England and that time in my life gave rise to some thoughts that have been kicking around for awhile - hence a new thread.
During my time in the USAF, in the space of a little over a year I got to move from home (Westchester County, NY,) to Denver for two months, then Kansas for about a year, then England for two months, then back to Kansas. While in England I also traveled to Rome for a few days. What struck me was the sense of what is considered old or historical.

Traveling west from Rome the time line shortens. History in Rome is measured in a couple of thousand plus years. I saw the ruins of an abbey in England for 1046 AD (or is it CE.) Where I come from in NY, we make much of George Washington, the American Revolution, etc. - about 200 plus years ago. And in Kansas and Colorado, as long as you're not talking about Native American archeology, the real history seems to be from about 1850 on.

The point and the planning question is, as we engage in the practical matter of historic preservation of buildings and places, how do we choose? Age? Significance? Architecture? And how should these places be preserved?

If I may take another moment for an example that I recently came across - A developer proposing medium density town houses on a former religious organization's property. Part of the property has a cluster of buildings that were a boys' school/orphanage. Turn of the century I think. Buildings are of no architectural significance but the cluster taken together is viewed by some as worth preserving as an example of this type of institution. They are talking adaptive re-use of the buildings to fit in with the rest of the development. If someone were suggesting preserving the buildings inside and out, maybe doing a restoration, with tours and the whole historic re-creation/educational approach, I could understand. But what is being proposed seems to me to be a reach in terms of truly preserving anything. And therefore one (at least this one) wonders about criteria. What should be preserved and how? I sometimes wonder if some day split level suburban houses will be given historic designations because we'll all be living on space stations, or in plastic bubbles?

Just some thoughts on a mid summer's day. Anybody up for a conversation.


John Yoegel

Perry Norton

Cyburbian Emeritus
I have company coming and I don't think I'll have
much time for writing. So you guys carry forth and
I'll give you thanks for everything.

Earl Finkler

Thanks John for some very thoughtful comments and questions about historic preservation. I look forward to posts on this topic. When did APA last do a PAS report on this topic?
Chris and I took a number of walking tours of historic areas in London, and my quick response is that politics had a role in what was preserved and/or refurbished. If a King liked something, it often was preserved.
Also, the works of the Romans seem to drift down under later structures, but everyone seems excited when an old Roman building or wall is unearthed.
And then there was the German bombing of London in WW II.
Our guides indicated that politics again was a factor in which buildings were rebuilt---in fact we saw a church outside of London which was bombed out and is still waiting for funds to be restored.
Just some summer thoughts from Barrow, where we have 30 degrees today and a few snow flurries.