Integrity and Authenticity

March 16, 2016 Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice, History, Intangible Heritage, Interpretation Comments (0) 1266

My favorite example:  where Ralph Ellison wrote Invisible Man.  Authenticity?  Integrity?

I will presenting at the 7th National Symposium on Historic Preservation Practice this weekend at Goucher College, on the Diversity Deficit and the National Register of Historic Places.  I have written often about this subject over the last five years, but lately my recommendations are getting more specific.  One of those has to do with the concept of Integrity, which I have previously proposed needs to be replaced with Authenticity. Continue Reading

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Finding the East out West

August 21, 2015 Diversity, Inclusion and Racial Justice, History, Interpretation Comments (2) 1193

When I spoke to the National Tribal Preservation Conference two days ago, my host Bambi Kraus of the National Association of Tribal Preservation Officers introduced my talk by noting that the Tribal Historic Preservation Officers should “be themselves” and offer alternatives to the “Western” approach to historic preservation. Continue Reading

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Transforming the Heritage Field

May 7, 2015 Historic Districts, History Comments (0) 1212

Lockport, Illinois, part of the I & M Canal National Heritage Corridor

The first of two blogs on my plan to transform the statutory and philanthropic foundations of heritage conservation.  Today we deal with the statutory in the United States…

As I prepare to move on from Global Heritage Fund after three years, I am committed more than ever to the transformation of the field of heritage conservation.  In the distant past, heritage conservation was a curatorial activity that sanctioned and even encouraged the removal of physical – and intangible – artifacts from our economic everyday in order to conserve them as if under a bell jar.  But, as I demonstrated in my dissertation, that approach began to die as historic preservation (in the U.S.) and heritage conservation (everywhere else) were infused with community-based activism and organization in the 1960s.  I had the good fortune of coming into the field during the creation of the first heritage area in the U.S. 32 years ago. Continue Reading

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Chicagoland Watch

September 17, 2009 Chicago Buildings Comments (0) 1020

Landmarks Illinois has made another splash with its annual Chicagoland Watch List thanks to the high profile Rose House and pavilion in Highland Park, a modernist treat by James Speyer that EVERYONE knows as Cam’s house from the 1980s film Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. I knew that when I toured the house about 15 years ago. Modernist steel and glass boxes set into one of the suburb’s trademark wooded ravines, the gem is threatened by possible subdivision despite landmark status and a $2.3 million price tag.

You should go to Landmarks Illinois’ website (www.landmarks.org) to see the whole list, which includes a two-lane rural road in McHenry County, the South Side Masonic Temple, and an entire neighborhood’s worth of urbane and sustainable terra cotta and brick treasures at the intersection of Halsted Fullerton and Lincoln: Continue Reading

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Kenilworth

October 16, 2008 Chicago Buildings, Historic Districts Comments (0) 861

Kenilworth, Illinois is a lovely suburb on the North Shore of Chicago with the world’s largest collection of George Maher Prairie houses and a cornucopia of other architectural and planning delights. It also made the National Trust’s Most Endangered List because of teardowns. That is rare notoriety in a nation beset with teardowns. You gotta have something goin’ on to be one of the eleven most endangered sites in the United States.

So, the village came up with a clever plan: list the town on the National Register of Historic Places. This adds NO regulation to homeowners and provides NO protection against teardowns, but addresses the media embarassment. It also would allow ONLY THOSE HOMEOWNERS WHO WANT TO to take advantage of the Illinois Property Tax Assessment Freeze program. Upside without a downside. Continue Reading

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National Register

August 7, 2008 Chicago Buildings, Economics, Historic Districts Comments (0) 990

The National Register of Historic Places has been around for 42 years and includes thousands of buildings. It was designed as a speed bump for Federal highway and urban renewal programs whose clear-cut approach to development in the 1950s and early 1960s had excited opposition. It remains as powerful today as it was 42 years ago: as powerful as a speed bump.

The National Register cannot prevent anyone from demolishing anything. There. The secret is out. It can slow down any project which is funded or licensed by the federal government, and often in those cases, buildings get saved. Not always. Only local landmarks laws can stop an owner from demolishing a building. That was true in 1966 and it is true today.

So, why are people in Oak Park and Kenilworth getting bent out of shape about National Register districts? Kenilworth, a wealthy community that made the National Trust’s 11 Most Endangered List thanks to a teardown frenzy, had its Village Board vote 4-2 in favor of putting the town on the National Register only to have the Village President veto it. The Board has apparently studied the facts and is overruling the veto. Continue Reading

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