People And Places And People

December 6, 2017 History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation Comments (0) 205

This year at PastForward, the National Preservation Conference, the National Trust for Historic Preservation focused on People Saving Places.  “People” is operative, because for many – notably wonky architectural historians like myself – it had often been about buildings. Even for those in the planning profession, it had been a technical question rather than a human one.  That is wrong.

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Evidence and Storytelling

October 26, 2017 Blog, History, Interpretation Comments (0) 374

I wrote a blog inspired by Don Rypkema’s presentation at the Living Heritage Symposium in September.  Here is one inspired by Donna Graves at the same event, who urged the audience to embrace storytelling.  This is why we save places, because of the stories they tell.

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The Construction of Nature

August 19, 2017 History, Interpretation, Technology, Vision and Style Comments (1) 1810

Over the dozen years of this blog I have sprinkled in historical facts about how old certain ideas and institutions are. This is because these things are so fundamental to our way of seeing and interacting with the world that we assume them to be eternal, not a few decades or a couple centuries old.

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Latest Issues in San Antonio

March 10, 2017 History, Interpretation, Texas, Vision and Style Comments (3) 1286

Things have been busy at the San Antonio Conservation Society, not only because our major fundraiser Night In Old San Antonio® is coming up next month, but because it is Spring already and a host of development and legislative issues are heating up.

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Augmented Reality Arrives

February 12, 2017 History, Technology, Vision and Style Comments (1) 692

Six months ago I wrote another blog about Authenticity and Technology (view here).  Part of my impulse was reading Colin Ellard and part was the threat to Alamo Plaza from those who think it should look only like 1836.

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What is the Fabric of Cultural History?

September 24, 2016 History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation Comments (2) 618

This is the Malt House in San Antonio.  Dating to 1949, it is the classic car-service restaurant, known for its malted milkshakes.  Generations experienced their localized version of American Graffiti with Mexican and American comfort food and the best malts in town. Continue Reading

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World Heritage Festival and Saving San Antonio

September 13, 2016 Global Heritage, History, Intangible Heritage Comments (0) 487

Last weekend was the first annual World Heritage Festival here in San Antonio, celebrating one year since the inscription of the San Antonio Missions as a World Heritage Site.  Having spent my career in heritage, this is exciting for me because now I live, work and play in a World Heritage site for the first time in my life. Continue Reading

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Authenticity, Technology and more places in the heart

September 1, 2016 History, Interpretation, Technology Comments (0) 582

Old school.  Not enough room on the sign for the whole story, so you have to turn it over…

Last month I wrote about Colin Ellard’s work, the neuroscience of why historic buildings and good design are better for your physical and mental health than the frequent monolithic stretches of our contemporary streetscape.  You can read it here.

At that time, I promised a follow-up blog about how technology – including the kind that allowed Ellard to do his studies – also offers new possibilities for interpretation.  I taught historic interpretation classes for more than a decade, and I have always been fascinated by every kind of historic interpretation, from big bronze signs and statues, to performances and interactive displays. Continue Reading

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Gas Station Heritage

August 22, 2016 History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation Comments (2) 663

Slimp Oil, 604 Carolina

Back in 2008, the National Trust for Historic Preservation held a national contest called “This Place Matters” where people voted on sites that mattered to them – to their history, their identity and their community. As I noted in my blog at the time, the winner was not a grand mansion or a pathbreaking design by a famous architect. Continue Reading

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