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By Mike Powe , Margaret O’Neal , Reina Murray, and Carson Hartmann On Thursday, February 9, as part of Preservation Leadership Forum’s webinar series, the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab hosted a webinar about the Atlas of ReUrbanism —what it is, how it can be used, and what extensions may be coming down the pike. You can listen to a recording of the webinar and download a PDF version of the slides . Attendees participated in a moderated Q&A at the...
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By Will Cook and Tom Mayes What would be the biggest potential game-changer for the future of historic preservation? From our perspective, it would be to shift the paradigm from a default assumption of demolition to one of building reuse. This topic was discussed at “Old Buildings, New Tools , ” a public forum in Denver, Colorado, hosted by Historic Denver, Inc on January 17, 2017. An earlier essay by Tom Mayes—which appeared in Bending the Future: Fifty Ideas for...
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Every quarter we’ll bring you the latest information related to historic preservation and public policy. In this issue we’re taking a pause in our work to protect historic preservation priorities in 2017 to acknowledge some of the work that occurred in 2016. As Washington, D.C., adjusts to a new political reality, there is great uncertainty as to how the 115th Congress and President Donald Trump will address the nation’s agenda, including key preservation issues such as tax...
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On Thursday, January 19, as part of Preservation Leadership Forum’s webinar series, the National Trust’s president and CEO, Stephanie K. Meeks, and policy staff hosted a webinar addressing the threat to the federal historic tax credit (HTC) . The U.S. Capitol Building - view of the visitor's center in 2010. | Credit: Architect of the Capitol Background and Action Items Among the many changes expected to take place under the Trump administration and the new Congress,...
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The Farnsworth House is one of the most revered buildings of the 20th century. Designed by Ludwig Mies van der Rohe in 1945 and constructed in 1951, it is a vital part of modern iconography. The building first opened to the public in 2005 and a modest visitor’s center was erected. Visitors, programming, and staff have made this 1,700-square-foot building too small. In a bi-annual competition called “ Preservation as Provocation ,” architecture students were challenged to design...
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Each of us tells a personal story about what draws us to the work of saving places. For my part, I often talk about two things : my family’s connection to the historic town of Eatonville, Florida, and my passion for ensuring that communities of color are fully represented in both our collective narrative and the historic places our country holds dear. Personal stories like these draw people in and are the starting places for commonality. So too for organizations. At the National Trust...
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Sixty years before the National Historic Preservation Act, Congress passed and President Theodore Roosevelt signed the Antiquities Act of 1906, giving the president authority to act swiftly and decisively to preserve historic sites and cultural resources on public lands by designating national monuments. In the 110 years since, eight Republican and eight Democratic presidents have used the Antiquities Act to protect some of America’s most beloved and iconic places. Defensive wall...
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Heading into the 50th anniversary year of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA), the fall 2015 issue of the Forum Journal looked ahead toward the next 50 years of preservation. As we leave 2016 behind, we pause to reflect on the NHPA and its role in shaping the preservation movement over the last half-century. Conceived and enacted in the time of President Johnson’s Great Society, the NHPA exemplified the optimism and progressive vision of the 1960s. Other legislation of...
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By Kirk Huffaker For the past 50 years, Utah Heritage Foundation has worked to unite all Utahns to ensure that historic places thrive in a rapidly changing world. Utah’s historic architecture is as rich in diversity, style, form, and function as the topography that has influenced it. We’ve implemented protection tools, advocated for financial incentives, restored iconic historic structures, and educated the next generation of preservation stewards. Transcending the aesthetic value...
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By Jennifer Reinhardt Our mission at the Michigan Historic Preservation Network (MHPN) is to advocate for Michigan’s historic places, supporting their contributions to our economic vitality, sense of place, and connection to the past. Education is a core component of that mission. From hosting seminars about fundraising tools that protect cultural resources to hands-on workshops that train homeowners in historic plaster repair techniques and best practices, we strive to address topics...
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(This is an update to an earlier call to action from December 2016 .) President-elect Donald Trump and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan have prioritized moving tax reform legislation forward in the 115th Congress. A tax reform package could move quickly through Congress by way of the budget reconciliation process, which only requires a simple majority for passage in the Senate, instead of the 60 votes typically needed to cut off debate. We expect that tax reform legislation will follow Speaker...
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Is there a topic you’d like covered or a key speaker you’d like to see at PastForward 2017 in Chicago, November 14–17? We want your input to shape the core educational programming of PastForward— submit your ideas by February 15, 2017. Suggest critical content or a dynamic, engaging expert whose voice is especially important in the preservation field, as well as exhibitors that you’d like to see in the Preservation Studio. 2017 Themes While we will consider...
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Saving great architecture can sometimes require that a building be given a new purpose, and historic post offices are a case in point. Though built for a very specific use, hundreds across the country have now been adapted for everything from funeral homes to hotels. But saving the brick and mortar of a building may not please those who appreciate the less-tangible value of a post office as a community center. Losing a post office to a more exclusive use may mean the loss of a public commons....
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Like the federal government, 34 states currently use Historic Tax Credits (HTCs) to encourage the redevelopment and preservation of qualifying historic buildings. By amplifying the federal HTC, state credits help protect states’ unique heritage while creating new jobs and places to house new businesses. An Impressive Record In 1994, a year after Richard Moe became president of the National Trust, there were eight states with HTCs. Under Moe’s leadership, the formation of strong,...
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By Giselle Rahn Beyond the well-known and beautiful National Landmark District of Savannah, Georgia, many blocks in the city include one or two abandoned or empty houses. In spring 2014 my then-boyfriend (now husband)—a man with a big heart and minimal home maintenance experience—wanted to buy and restore one of the dilapidated homes in our late-Victorian neighborhood . I was both apprehensive and excited. Standing on the front porch of our newly acquired historic home...
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2016 was a time of reflection and anticipation for many Americans, including preservationists. We celebrated the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service and the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, but we also used this year to anticipate the future. Moving past those milestones, we have the opportunity—some would say the obligation—to rethink preservation and seek our place of relevance in the changed political and social climate of 2017. Many of you...
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In southeastern Utah, a pair of buttes known as Bears Ears stand out on a landscape that includes some of the most significant cultural resources in the nation. The cultural and archaeological sites in the area surrounding Bears Ears—Ice Age hunting camps, prehistoric villages, cliff dwellings, and petroglyph and pictograph panels—reflect 12,000 years of human history. Though the landscape is remarkably intact, these irreplaceable resources face threats from looting, vandalism, and...
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Looking Back on 2016

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In 2016 we celebrated the anniversaries of the National Historic Preservation Act and the National Park Service , but the year has also brought significant change. Going into 2017 we know that we’ll be facing a number of challenges to saving places, including threats to preservation through tax reform and the ongoing questions facing historic and cultural resources as a result of climate change . We, as advocates, will have to work harder and more creatively to tell the stories of...
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The edges of our country are eroding. From Alaska to Louisiana, centuries of culture, tangible history, and dynamic communities are being battered by stronger storms and sea level rise—raising difficult questions about adaptation, relocation, and what it means to be an American experiencing climate change today. Over the next year, Victoria Herrmann, a National Geographic Explorer will chronicle America’s Eroding Edges (AEE) , helping you explore the challenges of all those facing...
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Recorded on November 17 at PastForward 2016 in Houston, this TrustLive session explored the starring role that historic preservation can play in the rebirth of urban areas through reinvestment and reuse of existing places. Preservation helps create livable, vibrant, equitable, and creative communities. The panel featured Rick Lowe of Project Row Houses , Mike Powe of the National Trust’s Preservation Green Lab , and Claudia Guerra of the City of San Antonio . Also read: preservationLIVABILITY:...
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