Preservation ABCs: N is for National Historic Preservation Act

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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N is for National Historic Preservation Act (of 1966)

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Historic preservation, as a movement, existed long before it was an academic field of study or an established profession. The movement in the United States can be traced to saving Independence Hall in Philadelphia, PA and the Mount Vernon Ladies Association and Ann Pamela Cunningham. (Here’s a lesson on the history of historic preservation: Preservation Basics No. 6.) Prior to the National Historic Preservation Act, some laws and programs were passed and established such as the Historic Sites Act and the Historic American Building Survey.

However, the National Historic Preservation Act drives the federal policy of historic preservation in the United States. The NHPA (1966) established federal, state and local responsibilities. The short version of the story is that the NHPA is a response to governments demolishing historic structures, buildings and entire neighborhoods, particularly following World War II. This law would require the federal government to identify historic properties and to take into account its effects on those resources.

The National Historic Preservation Act established federal preservation policy and procedures through these components:

  • Outlined federal/state/tribal/local partnerships to implement these programs (including establishing State Historic Preservation Officers and offices)
  • Establishing the National Register of Historic Places
  • Establishing the Section 106 review process
  • Establishing the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation
  • Establishing Section 110 (which requires federal agencies to be stewards of their historic properties)
  • Authorized matching grants and the Historic Preservation Fund

Read more about these components from the National Trust or the National Park Service. You can read the full text of the NHPA via the Advisory Council for Historic Preservation.

Where would we be without the NHPA? Not even close to where we are now in historic preservation, and we should thank our lucky stars for the NHPA and all of its components. What do you think?

Preservation Photos #167

The Bartonsville Covered Bridge under construction, December 2012.

The Bartonsville Covered Bridge under construction, December 2012.

On Saturday January 26, 2013, the reconstructed Bartonsville Covered Bridge opened for traffic. The community gathered in the chilly but sunny morning hours for a ceremony and then at a local restaurant to enjoy the long awaited occasion. The Bartonsville Covered Bridge is the famous bridge from Tropical Storm Irene, which washed downstream and was filmed by local resident Sue Hammond. Here’s the VPR story.

The First Girder – January 27, 2011

Two years ago (yesterday) was a momentus day in the lives of those involved with the Lake Champlain Bridge. On a frigid January day, the first girder was set on Pier 7 of the Lake Champlain Bridge at Chimney Point. To those of us who had never seen such a feat, it was incredible, and we stayed long past normal working hours. And to those waiting for the bridge to open, it was another visual sign of progress.

The first girder on Pier 7.

The first and second girder on Pier 7.

The first girder on Pier 7.

The first and second girder on Pier 7.

Following the first girders, other significant Lake Champlain Bridge events include the Arch Raising on August 26, 2011 and the bridge opening on November 7, 2011 and the opening ceremony on May 19-20, 2012.

Other Lake Champlain Bridge posts: Lake Champlain Bridge Photo Update &  Love a Replacement Bridge?

Preservation ABCs: M is for Main Street

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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M is for Main Street

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Marion, VA

Main Street is a common idea, phrase, and referenced place in historic preservation because it incorporates so much of what historic preservation believes. Main Street (whether or not yours is named Main Street) historically included prominent building blocks, local businesses, a mix of retail and residential, a variety of services for the community, gathering places, human scale buildings, transportation nexuses, and a sense of place. Over the centuries and decades, main street as a hub for all of this faded; populations moved to the suburbs and strip malls and large indoor shopping malls and big box retailers took the place of main street.

And now, people are realizing once again the economic and community value of a main street. The National Trust Main Street Center focuses on revitalizing main streets to viable, sustainable communities. Main Streets can reinvent themselves. Some become more artsy or food oriented. Others retain basic services like pharmacies and stationery stores. Each community will have different needs and interests. The key is finding what works for each one, and having willing, passionate people involved.

Does your town have a main street? Or did you grow up in suburban developments (like me)? Has your main street changed over the years? How?

January Flamingo-grams

In case you don’t follow Preservation in Pink on Instagram or Twitter, here’s a recent roundup. What have you been up to?

Previously: Thanksgiving Flamingo-grams, November Flamingo-grams, October Flamingo-grams

Preservation Photos #166

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Ready for winter in Bellows Falls, Vermont. The good smell of a wood stove is unmistakable. Piles of chopped, stacked wood is common in this cold climate.

Preservation Pop Quiz

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What you see here is the interior of a a house, gutted of sheetrock and insulation (thanks, Hurricane Sandy). For orientation, the image shows a junction of two walls, where a wall from the main block of the house meets the wall of a now enclosed porch. The pop quiz question: what would you call the material in the center of the image? In other words, identify the grooved wood pieces.

Preservation ABCs: L is for Landscape

Preservation ABCs is a series that will work its way from A to Z, bringing words into conversation that are relevant to historic preservation, whether it’s an idea, feature or vocabulary term. The idea is to help you see preservation everywhere you look and wherever you go. Enjoy! See previous letters.

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L is for Landscape

Windham County, Vermont, agricultural landscape, October 2009.

The word “landscape” likely triggers images of rolling hills, the coast, mountains or flat farmland. When discussing historic preservation and landscape, those images still hold true, except landscape is more aptly called “cultural landscape” by the National Park Service. Basically, cultural landscapes represent how humans have modified the environment and interacted with the land.

There are four types of cultural landscapes: (1) historic sites (2) historic designed landscapes (3) historic vernacular landscape and (4) ethnographic landscapes. Preservation Brief 36 explains cultural landscapes succinctly. Subtypes of these four types range from highways to parks to neighborhoods to farmsteads to battlefields to gardens to sacred sites, among many more.

Like other historic resources, landscapes have boundaries and historic context and significant features that contribute to their integrity (think of the threats to battlefields for a reference). The National Park Service maintains the Cultural Landscape Inventory (CLI) of all cultural and historic landscapes across the country. Cultural landscapes are an entire field of study, obviously much too lengthy for a single post, but visit the CLI to get started. (And if you’re a cultural landscape expert, feel free to add more as a primer.)

Aside from the NPS definition of cultural landscapes, “landscape” can refer to everything around us. When you read your landscape, you are reading every element (not necessarily historic) of your environment and understanding the place where you live: what existed before and what exists now. Reading landscape is important because it allows preservationists and others to understand “sense of place” and what makes a place unique.

So think about your landscape? Do you know of any designated cultural landscapes around you? If not, how would you describe where you are?

Talking Chain Stores & Big Boxes

Let’s talk about chain stores & big box stores. Let’s begin with a bunch of questions for thought about the location of chains & big boxes.

Chain establishments are sometimes inevitable. We all know that. We see that as we travel the country (and world). And most of us cannot avoid chains completely. (If you do, please share your secrets). When we accept that fact on some level, we are left with the next step: how to make chain stores work with our communities, specifically the built environment.

Remember this Dollar General found in historic Fair Haven, VT? Would you shop here? Why or why not?

Maybe proper location is one answer. That goes hand-in-hand with proper zoning and a community master plan. Does the location of a chain store or big box store matter to you? In other words, if you do shop or eat at chain establishments (and most of us do, however infrequently), are you more likely to patronize one in a downtown/village/neighborhood setting or one in a strip mall or in its own structure? And are you more likely to be a customer if you feel the building fits with the built environment? Or less likely if you find the building to be intrusive and inappropriate?

Smaller chains might be a better example for this question, those such as Starbucks or Subway or hardware stores like Ace or Aubuchon. If you see one of those businesses in a downtown, would you be inclined to shop there? Are you then more likely to ease up a bit and shop at one that is outside of downtown or in a less than ideal location?

Do you have a pet peeve for a particular chain? For instance, I am perturbed entirely when giant drug stores insist on having their own building and parking lots. If you have a particular big box that you always avoid, at what lengths do you have to go to do so?

If you’d like to contribute to this discussion, one question or all, please answer in the comments.