I am a Historic Preservationist.

I am a Historic Preservationist.

I love historic buildings, districts, landscapes, historic bridges, comprehensive planning,  sidewalks, rehabilitation, revitalization of downtown, small and local businesses, proper infill, kitschy roadside  Americana, blue highways, heritage tourism, National Parks, open space, maps, coffee and flamingos.

I will wade barefoot through flooded roads to get to the historic bridges.

I define myself as a historic preservationist and I’m proud of it. 

How do you define your profession?

Architectural Historian? Historian? Heritage preservationist? Heritage conservationist? Other?

And why?

Does it make a difference to you?

Please explain. I’m curious.


14 thoughts on “I am a Historic Preservationist.

  1. Sabra Smith says:

    Such an amazing coincidence you would post this! I was just thinking last night about our conversation ages ago about the negative connotations that the phrase “historic preservation” has taken on, about other possible labels, and how the definition has changed and expanded dramatically!

    • Kaitlin says:

      Interesting. I don’t know how negative “historic preservation” actually is, but I know that many of us in the field infer that those outside of the field perceive negative connotations. I really don’t think that changing the name of the field is the answer. More to come on that subject!

  2. Jim says:

    While I appreciate old buildings, my heart is on the old roads. I think of myself as a transportation historian in that context (though I make my living as a software developer).

  3. Paula Sagerman says:

    So I’m not the only person who thinks about this stuff! I also call myself a historic preservationist, although I decided that my business title should be “Historic Preservation Consultant” because I thought it was the clearest way of describing what I do.

    When I worked for the Federal government, my title was Architectural Historian, and while the layperson might understand what that is more than “historic preservationist” (I got less blank stares and more “That must be very interesting…”), being an architectural historian is just part of what we do. (I also learned that many people – even professional planners – don’t know the difference between architecture and archaeology!)

    When I worked for a state government, I was a Historic Preservation Specialist, which I also think is a good title. As I wrote in your discussion about historic vs. historical, if we had one thing to call ourselves I think people would take historic preservation more seriously, but as long as the Feds call us “architectural historians” that won’t happen. 🙂

    • Kaitlin says:

      Paula, an excellent point. It is so strange to me that the law is the National Historic Preservation Act, yet the qualification standards are “architectural historian.” Architectural historian doesn’t even begin to cover the range of work we do as preservationists. I do not define myself as an architectural historian for that reason.
      You and I need to have coffee sometime!

  4. bellegroveatportconway says:

    I would define myself as someone that loves history and not only want to preserve it, but I want to share it. My husband and I started looking two years ago for a historic home that we could turn into a bed an breakfast. Last July we came across that perfect home. It is located on the property that James Madison was born on. The current home was built several years later in 1791. The current owner purchased the home in 1988 and restored it. It has been empty for almost 30 years now. The sad thing is that he has not allowed anyone to come on the property or to have any access to it. Also I don’t think he is as interested in the history of the home.

    The good news is that he is ready for someone to come in and do something with it. This will allow us to open the bed and breakfast of our dreams and to preserve what remains on the property. There are three outbuildiing, a Summer Kitchen, anIce House and a Smoke House that he was going to tear down. We have stopped him from doing so.

    Once we open, we not only will use the residence as a bed and breakfast, but we are going to host public events such as a Wine and Anitque weekend. This will allow the public to once again come and enjoy this beautiful home.

    If you want more information, please check out our blog here on WordPress at:


    You can also visit our Facebook page at:

    Belle Grove at Port Conway – Landmark


  5. Jessica Wobig says:

    I am writing a thesis that considers this very thought.
    I study historic preservation and I will gain a degree in it.
    I could tell you the ins-and-outs of historic preservation in the US.
    But, it is limiting.
    I prefer the conservation of our resources at global or macro-level, both natural or man-made, and I consider myself a heritage conservationist.

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