What value does the field of Historic Preservation have to society? Education. The act of preserving history is done in an attempt to educate future generations about the people who came before them, the places they built, the structures they worshiped in and the sites of important events.
Education is something that the field of Historic Preservation hinges on. If people don’t know the goals of the field they will easily dismiss it as a hobby of the well-to-dos. Many people don’t realize how democratic the field is and how important it has become as a planning tool and an educational resource.
Vast measures were taken to preserve Mies van der Rohe’s Farnsworth House in 2003. This site embodies Mies’ modern ideas and visiting the site can provide an experience that can not be replicated by text books, images or videos and are a valuable resource to architecture and other design students. If you haven’t been, you must go!
The field of Historic Preservation is quickly being discovered by many to have personal value as well. Learning the skills necessary to restore and maintain buildings can require a broad range of talents. Skilled labor is fulfilling and rewarding work. The American College of the Building Arts has been cranking out graduates versed in iron, wood and trowel trades for years now. Further education in architecture, engineering, physics and chemistry are all required for the most complex of preservation projects.
One of the best groups doing some of the most technical work in the field are Wiss, Janney, Elstner Associates, Inc. They provided the expertise necessary to move the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse 2,900 feet from its original location in order to rescue it from threatening coastal erosion. Over the course of twenty three days they were able to move the lighthouse, undisturbed, from the place it had sat since 1870 to an area where it could exist for another 100+ years.
It is also a lot of fun to restore buildings, rebuild elements that are discovered in historic photographs and explore new building styles and techniques.
What are some of your favorite preservation projects? What historic sites speak to you and have had a lasting impact on you? What are some historic sites that do particularly well at interpreting our past and telling the important stories of those who came before us?
I Speak Vintage would love to hear from you.