[Preservation Tips and Tools] How to Save a Place: Do Your Research, Know the Threat – PreservationNation Blog

[Preservation Tips and Tools] How to Save a Place: Do Your Research, Know the Threat – PreservationNation Blog.


The History Behind Historic Preservation and What it Means?

It is officially May, which means it is Historic Preservation month.  To celebrate this month we will be discussing historic preservation: what is it, why is it important, and what is the history of the buildings in our Downtown District?

Let us start with the definition of terms used in the field.  This will help with the understanding of future posts.

Preservation.  “Preservation refers to the maintenance of a property without significant alterations to its current condition”.[1]  When preservation is used, all the changes that have occurred over the building’s lifespan are kept intact, showing the history of the building.

Historic Restoration.  Restoration refers to returning the building to its original state, or to a specific time in its history.  The method is generally used when there has been significant damage done to the structure, or there is a specific time period that is particularly important.[2]

Rehabilitation.  This is also referred to as adaptive reuse. It is used when the building is no longer used for its original purpose.  When this method is used, the outside is often kept original whereas the interiors can be changed drastically if needed.[3]

Reconstruction.  New construction, the form, materials, features, and character of a property that no longer exists, as it appeared at a particular period of time, usually in its historic location.[4]

Historic Preservation has a long and sometimes difficult past.  It began in 1800, when Congress appropriate $5,000 to begin the Library of Congress.  This money was used to purchase the books that began what is now the largest, most resourceful, and most recognized library in the country.  Now move to the end of the Civil War when the Smithsonian Institution and the Department of the Interior partnered to begin acquiring and preserving battlefields through the War Department.  Preservation at this point was being completed primarily by private entities and local governments. Continue reading “The History Behind Historic Preservation and What it Means?”