The Core of Preservation

What do you think is at the core of preservation? Do you think of houses, architectures, places, or something else? In my response post last week, I quoted Emily Koller from her blog post, which said that, “Historic preservation at its core is about possessing the emotional capacity to care about a place. Young people, as a whole, are not interested in preservation because we are mostly numb to the places in which we live.”  In the comments section, “kvl” mentioned that the idea of the core of preservation seemed interesting from an anthropological point of view. (Feel free to elaborate!)

I would say I agree with the first part of Koller’s statement — possessing the emotional capacity to care about a place. But, as I stated already, I certainly do not agree with the latter half of her statement, which is why I ask you, readers, how you define or identify the core of preservation.

Aside from caring about a loving a place, I see the core of preservation as quality of life (something else that I’ve often mentioned). A preservationist must understand that every place has a story and it is important to someone, even if the preservationist does not have an attachment to it. As preservationists we are working to give everyone the opportunity to honor their history and memories, while incorporating it into their daily lives with the end result of improving quality of life. Thus, the core of historic preservation for me reaches far beyond my own connections or lack thereof to a place.

Of course, you don’t have to agree with me or anyone else, but I’m interested in how preservationists identify their work — what drives you? You don’t have to define the entire field and its mission, but what makes up your preservation soul? Please share, I’m very interested!


3 thoughts on “The Core of Preservation

  1. Missy says:

    For me the core too is quality of life. It is about the people. Who lived here, how they used this space/place, what was their life like? The reason I preserve is because for me I am preserving what is best and what makes us as a society or as a family or even as an individual have the best life we can. To me our physcial environment has such a greater impact on our day to day lives than most people probably realize. I do not at all intend to say I preserve based on romanticized or false sense of the past (i.e. things were so much simplier and easier in the past…let’s go back to that). No, there were certainly problems and hardships in the past. But I think the past (and by past I mean historic built environment) offers us a much better model from which to live our lives than anything we have seen in the past 50 or so years. In the end, I preserve not because I have the emotional capacity to care about a place, but because I have the emotional capacity to care about the greater good of our humanity and the intellectual capacity to realize that the built environment directly affects that.

  2. Stefanie says:

    I think people tend to associate “preservation” with buildings and conversation and, to a lesser degree, archaeology, because it is tangible. We continually try to “get our hands wrapped around [something]” and want to be able to touch the past –literally. I think the ‘folklore’ side of preservation is severely misunderstood because it’s more of a culture and not an object.

    I have to agree with you both in your beliefs that the core of preservation is quality of life. These historic resources (be it tangible or not) are a part of our identity as a nation or region and really do make life better. They teach us about how things were done in the past, why things are done the way they are now, and also provide a degree of entertainment and amusement.

    It used to drive me absolutely crazy when I was working at Kenmore, cleaning the ceilings on the scaffolding, and ‘older’ (older than me) visitors would say to us –“You’re young. Why are you in this field?” And I think this is where the field of preservation has its biggest mogul –overcoming the common misconception that only the old care about things that are old. I do believe that we are slowly but surely working our way through this…I am finding more and more ‘young’ people who find what we do absolutely fascinating and our conversations seem to spawn a more serious interest in all things preservation.

    BTW – GREAT topic!!!! 🙂

Have a thought to share?

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s