This blog aims to move preservation from the academic to the practical, the house museum to the streets. Not to say that architectural history and house museums are bad – they explore and preserve valuable history and remain preservation’s standard-bearers, for better or worse. It is simply that they are no longer adequate. The breadth of historic landscapes has expanded vastly in recent years, both as more buildings pass the fifty-year threshold to be considered potentially significant and as more people recognize the value of vernacular and industrial environments.
At the same time, there are more challenges facing historic environments: the traditional players of demolition and inappropriate rehabilitation/additions/whathaveyou, but also widespread abandonment and disinvestment or, conversely, outsized dollar-driven new developments and gentrification. We also have more potential partners–the sustainability movement, community development, real estate developers, environmentalists, community activists, and more share common ground with the values of historic preservation. Our challenge is to make those connections between the historic built environment and quality of life, historic downtowns and economic vitality, historic buildings and “green” building practices, historic landscapes and community history.
In short, it’s about unpickling preservation, pulling buildings and landscapes out of the brine of designate-and-occasionally-dust and into the world. “The world” on this blog started out as Philadelphia and the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Design, though it quickly expanded to cover the much bigger sphere of the Internet and, more recently, Seattle.