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Historic preservation is an endeavour that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance. It tends to refer specifically to the preservation of the built environment, and not to preservation of, for example, primeval forests or wilderness. This term is generally used by English-speakers in the United States whereas the terms "heritage conservation" and "heritage preservation" are more common in the United Kingdom.
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 Antiquaries.
By the mid 19th century, Britain's unprotected cultural heritage was being slowly destroyed. Even well-meaning archaeologists like William Greenwell excavated sites with virtually no attempt at their preservation.
Stonehenge came under increasing threat by the 1870s. Tourists were chipping off parts of the stones or carving their initials into the rock. The private owners of the monument decided to sell the land to the London and South-Western Railway as the monument was "not the slightest use to anyone now."
John Lubbock, an MP and botanist emerged as the champion of the country's national heritage. In 1872 he personally bought private land that housed ancient monuments in Avebury, Silbury Hill and elsewhere, from the owners who were threatening to have them cleared away to make room for housing. Soon, he began campaigning in Parliament for legislation to protect monuments from destruction. This finally led to the legislative milestone under the Liberal government of William Gladstone of the Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882. The first government appointed inspector for this job was the archaeologist Augustus Pitt-Rivers. This legislation was regarded by conservative political elements as a grave assault on the individual rights of property of the owner, and consequently, the inspector only had the power to identify endangered landmarks and offer to purchase them from the owner with his consent. The Act only covered ancient monuments and explicitly did not cover historic buildings or structures. In 1877 the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings was founded by the Arts and Crafts designer William Morris to prevent the destruction of historic buildings, followed by the National Trust in 1895 that bought estates from their owners for preservation.
The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1882 had only given legal protection to prehistoric sites, such as ancient tumuli. The Ancient Monuments Protection Act 1900 took this further by empowering the government's Commissioners of Work and local County Councils to protect a wider range of properties. Further updates were made in 1910.
Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire, a medieval manor house had been put up for sale in 1910 with its greatest treasures, the huge medieval fireplaces, still intact. However, when an American bought the house they were ripped out and packaged up for shipping. The former viceroy of India, George Curzon, 1st Marquess Curzon of Kedleston, was outraged at this cultural destruction and stepped in to buy back the castle and reinstall the fireplaces. After a nationwide hunt for them they were finally found in London and returned. He restored the castle and left it to the National Trust on his death in 1925. His experience at Tattershall influenced Lord Curzon to push for tougher heritage protection laws in Britain, which saw passage as the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913.
The new structure involved the creation of the Ancient Monuments Board to oversee the protection of such monuments. Powers were given for the Board, with Parliamentary approval, to issue preservation orders to protect monuments, and extended the public right of access to these. The term "monument" was extended to include the lands around it, allowing the protection of the wider landscape.
The preservation for the benefit of the Nation of lands and tenements (including buildings) of beauty or historic interest and, as regards lands, for the preservation of their natural aspect, features and animal and plant life. Also the preservation of furniture, pictures and chattels of any description having national and historic or artistic interest.
In the early days, the Trust was concerned primarily with protecting open spaces and a variety of threatened buildings; its first property was Alfriston Clergy House and its first nature reserve was Wicken Fen. Its first archaeological monument was White Barrow. The focus on country houses and gardens, which now comprise the majority of its most visited properties, came about in the mid 20th century, when it was realised that the private owners of many of these properties were no longer able to afford to maintain them.
The Town and Country Planning Act 1944, and the Town and Country Planning Act 1990, took steps toward historic preservation on an unprecedented scale. 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.
In the United States one of the first historic preservation efforts was the Washington's Headquarters State Historic Site, in Newburgh, New York. This property has the distinction of being the first-ever property designated and operated as a historic site by a U.S. state, having been so since 1850.
Another early historic preservation undertaking was that of George Washington's Mount Vernon in 1858. Founded in 1889, the Richmond, Virginia-based Preservation Virginia (formerly known as the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities) was the United States' first statewide historic preservation group.
The architectural firm of Simons & Lapham (Albert Simons and Samuel Lapham) was an influential supporter of the nation's first historic preservation ordinance in Charleston, South Carolina in 1930, affording that city a regulatory means by which to prevent the destruction of its historic building stock. In 1925, efforts to preserve the historic buildings of the French Quarter in New Orleans led to the creation of the Vieux Carré Commission and later, to the adoption of a historic preservation ordinance.
The US National Trust for Historic Preservation, another privately funded non-profit organization, began in 1949 with a handful of 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 nationwide 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. It became the model on which most other graduate historic preservation programs were created. 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. The M.Sc. in Building Conservation degree program is offered by the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. In 2005, Clemson University and the College of Charleston created an M.S. degree program based in Charleston, SC. The first undergraduate programs (B.A.) appeared in 1977 from Goucher College and Roger Williams College, followed by Mary Washington College in 1979. Today there are three community colleges that offer an Associates Degree in Historic Preservation; Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, Colorado; College of the Redwoods in Eureka, California; and Belmont Technical College in St. Clairsville, Ohio.
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.
Historic objects in Canada may be granted special designation by any of the three levels of government: the central government, the provincial governments, or a municipal government. The Heritage Canada Foundation acts as Canada's lead advocacy organisation for heritage buildings and landscapes.
National Register of Historic Places
National Historic Landmark
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. Historic districts allows rural areas to preserve their characters through historic preservation programs. These include "Main Street" programs that can be used to redevelop rural downtowns. Using historic preservation programs as an economic development tool for local governments in rural areas has enabled some of those areas to take advantage of their history and develop a tourism market that in turn provides funds for maintaining an economic stability that these areas would not have seen otherwise.
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.
sort of national property, in which every man has a right and interest who has an eye to perceive and a heart to enjoy.
It was, however, the United States that led the world in the creation of National Parks, areas of unspoiled natural wilderness, where the intrusion of civilization are intentionally minimal.
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. 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.
In the United Kingdom, James Bryce the ambassador to the US praised the system of National Parks and campaigned to have them introduced in Great Britain. Little came of it until mounting public pressure during the early 20th century from the Ramblers' Association and other groups led to the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.
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.
- Augustus Pitt Rivers (1827–1900): Britain's first Inspector of Ancient Monuments.
- John Lubbock (1834-1913): campaigned for legal protection for ancient monuments and saved Avebury from destruction at the hand of its private owners.
- Eugène Viollet-le-Duc (1814-1879): French architect who restored Gothic buildings and believed that restoration could improve on the past.
- Ann Pamela Cunningham (1816–1875): influential in saving Mount Vernon (plantation) from demolition and founding the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association, one of the first preservation organizations in the United States (est. 1854).
- William Morris (1834-1896): English designer and writer who founded the Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings.
- John Ruskin (1819-1900): English art critic who established the basic theory of preservation (retention of status quo).
- George Curzon (1859-1925): British Viceroy of India who preserved Tattershall Castle, Lincolnshire and was an influential sponsor of the Ancient Monuments Consolidation and Amendment Act 1913.
- Charles E. Peterson (1906–2004): considered to be the "founding father" of historic preservation in the United States.
- James Marston Fitch (1909-2000): 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 J. Murtagh: first Keeper of the National Register of Historic Places in the United States and significant contributor to the literature of the discipline.
- 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.
- Walter Muir Whitehill: Chairman of the Whitehill Report in the late 1960s, which established the first guidelines for higher education historic preservation programs.
Although volunteers continue to play a large role in historic preservation activities, the field has seen an increased level of professionalization. Today, there are many career options in historic preservation in the public, non-profit and private sectors. 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. Some pupils—at schools with such programmes 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
- Focus specifically on the physical conservation of building materials.
- Architectural historian/historian
- Primarily researches and writes statements expressing the historical significance of sites.
- Historic preservation planner
- Most are employed by local, county, state or federal government planning agencies to administer tax abatement programs, ensure compliance with local ordinances and state and Federal legislation, and conduct design reviews to ensure that proposed projects will not harm historic and archaeological resources. At the state level, they are known as a State Historic Preservation Officer while at other levels of government they may be known as a Federal or Tribal Historic Preservation Officer. Some may also serve as consultants to local governments, conducting Section 106 reviews in accordance with the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966.
- Preservation architect
- Design and develop architectural conservation plans and work specifications in consultation with Engineers, Historians and Planners, ensuring compliance with local design guidelines to protect sensitive historic building fabric. Most are employed by private architecture firms though some find work with government agencies.
- Preservation craftsperson/traditional trades practitioner
- Employs knowledge of traditional building techniques and contemporary conservation technologies to complete the conservation, repair or restoration of historic buildings.
- Preservation engineer
- Work with Architects to devise conservation solutions of a structural or material -specific nature. Most are employed by private architecture and/or engineering firms.
- Public historian/resource interpreters
- Most are employed by government agencies and private foundations to interpret the significance of historic resources for the general public.
- Historic site administrator
- Non-profit sector careers
- Engage in a variety of activities concerned with historic preservation advocacy, easements, and private foundations at the local, regional, statewide, or national levels.
- American Institute for Conservation
- American Institute of Architects
- American Planning Association
- International Council on Monuments and Sites
- Preservation Trades Network
- Society of Architectural Historians
- National Trust
- English Heritage
- Society for the Protection of Ancient Buildings
- Landmark Trust
- Adaptive reuse
- Athens Charter, doctrinal text
- Architectural conservation
- Barcelona Charter, doctrinal text
- Building restoration
- Cultural heritage
- Cultural heritage management
- Demolished buildings and structures
- English Heritage
- Heritage organisations
- Historic preservation organisations
- Historic Scotland
- List of historic houses
- National Trust (disambiguation), containing a listing of National Trusts worldwide
- Ship of Theseus, a philosophical problem regarding identity of preservation and replacement
- Space archaeology
- Principles of Intelligent Urbanism
- Sustainable Preservation
- Venice Charter, doctrinal text
- Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions, Handbook (1997).
- Bryson, Bill. "At Home: A Short History of Private Life" Transworld Publishers, 2010
- Denise Winterman. "The man who demolished Shakespeare's house". BBC News Magazine.
- Adrian Pettifer (2002). "English Castles: A Guide by Counties". Boydell & Brewer. pp. 145–7.
- Mynors, p.9.
- "The Society for the Preservation of Historic Buildings (SPHB)". Sphb.org.uk. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- 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
- Helium Studio. "Preservation Virginia". Apva.org. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- 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
- Ellis, Scott S. (2010). Madame Vieux Carré: the French Quarter in the Twentieth Century. University of Mississippi. p. 43.
- Murtagh, William J. Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America. New York: Sterling Publishing, Co., 1997.
- Michael Tomlan. "Historic Preservation Education: Alongside Architecture in Academia." Journal of Architectural Education, Vol. 47, No. 4. (1994): 187-196.
- Preservation News (Oct 1, 1979)
- Federal, State and Local Historic Districts, TOOLBOX, FAQ, National Park Service. Retrieved 19 February 2007
- Stenberg, Peter L. (October 1995). “Historic Preservation as Part of Downtown Redevelopment.” Rural Development Perspectives, Vol. 11, no.1, pp. 16-21. Washington, DC : Economic Research Service. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- John, Patricia LaCaille (July 2008). “Historic Preservation Resources.” Rural Information Center Publication Series no. 62. National Agricultural Library. Rural Information Center. Retrieved December 30, 2008.
- Wordsworth, William (1835). A guide through the district of the lakes in the north of England with a description of the scenery, &c. for the use of tourists and residents (5th ed.). Kendal, England: Hudson and Nicholson. p. 88.
- "Morristown National Historical Park - Morristown National Historical Park". Nps.gov. 2012-10-12. Retrieved 2012-10-29.
- "Biography of Ann Pamela Cunningham" National Women's History Museum. Retrieved 21 April 2010.
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- 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, Ted J. Ligibel, and Ilene R. Tyler. Historic Preservation: An Introduction to its History, Principles, and Practice. New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 2009.
- 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.
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- An Overview of Preservation in the United States (US/ICOMOS)
- Archeology Laws: A Guide for Professionals (National Park Service)
- Association for Preservation Technology International, an organization concerned with technologies used for conserving historic structures and their settings.
- Historic Preservation: Legal and Economic Issues, an essay concerning the legal and economic implications of historic preservation.
- National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, the National Park Service's preservation research center, offering research materials, preservation training, and grants.
- National Trust for Historic Preservation, the principal non-profit preservation advocacy organization in the United States.
- Preservapedia historic preservation and cultural heritage management encyclopedia.
- Preservation Trades Network, an international organization focused on preservation trades and traditional craft skills.
- PreserveNet, contains a directory of preservation-related websites and academic programs in the United States.
- Standards and Guidelines for the Conservation of Historic Places in Canada
- Standards and Guidelines for Preservation in the United States