The Impact of a Movement That Helps to Protect Historic Buildings

Introduction: What is the “Movement” and What is the Impact?

The US has been seeing a dramatic decline in home ownership over the past decade. One of the reasons behind this is that people are not moving as often as they once did, and when they do, it may take longer for them to sell their old home or find another one that’s just right for them. “Americans used to move every five years. Now we stay put 15 years, on average.” [5]
“The impact of this trend is enormous — home ownership rates for people between the ages of 25 and 34 have dropped from 87 percent in 2000 to 83 percent in 2010. As a result, young Americans are less experienced and less prepared to buy homes.” [6]
In the years since the 1980s there has been a significant drop-off in moving, by both age groups and size of metropolitan area. Those who do move are often doing so at greater distances.
“In 2011, just under two out of three people stayed in the same county. That’s down from nearly three out of four in 1985.”

that old house is gonna be shaking
that old house is gonna be shaking

How can a Movement Protect Our Heritage?

The movement is not just a way to save old houses. “The more successful a neighborhood becomes, the higher its value rises. That makes it harder for new residents to move in, because they have to pay for the same homes at a higher price.” [4] It helps foster the type of neighborhoods that we want. A recent study about the benefits of historic preservation found that remodeling a historic home is less expensive than building anew, often saves energy and time, and produces better passive income in many neighborhoods. [8] The movement also brings much needed awareness to the world around us.
“The preservation movement has a lot more to offer than just saving old houses, it gives cities a sense of community and can lead to improved quality of life.” [2] The preservation movement is vital in neighborhoods because it helps attract people who want to live in cities. People want to live, work, shop and play where they know their neighbors. Citizens feel better with parks and museums that bring people together instead of those that isolate them. The preservation movement does this by connecting people with their heritage and neighborhood.
A movement is also important because it keeps us from forgetting our past. “Despite the improvement of communications, most Americans don’t think a great deal about the history of their own towns and cities.” [7] It is our duty to pass down to the next generation what we want to remember.

that old house is gonna be shaking
that old house is gonna be shaking

What Are the Main Ways in Which a Movement Can Protect Heritage Sites?

A good example of a movement that has been successful at saving historic buildings is in California. This movement was able to protect its historic areas, which includes beautiful beaches, mountains and desert areas. “In 1978, a statewide ballot initiative was passed that created the California Historical Resources Commission to inventory, identify and protect historic structures throughout the state.” [3] This successful effort has helped create the state’s historic areas, which in turn “is boosting tourism, communication with other countries and preservation of local materials.” [9]
In the United States, there are several ways movements are able to save historic buildings. “For example, in many states and local governments and in private organizations, they can take steps toward the preservation of historic building through tax incentives and funding.” [6] Yet there are difficulties with these efforts. “Such efforts should be aimed at saving only those buildings that are not well maintained or that are more important as a landmark than as a dwelling.” [9] Another difficulty with preservation efforts is the state of preservation of some buildings. “For example, the States that have left their historic buildings unheated in the winter are living in old houses.” [9]
In addition to preservation efforts, there are other ways movements can protect historic buildings. “They can initiate state and federal legislation and funds for historic preservation.” [5] In addition, “they can encourage local governments to initiate conservation programs that allow owners or developers to meet such requirements as upgrading or altering old structures.” [4] Groups can also join together to pool finances for this process. “For example, several preservation and lumber organizations in Wisconsin pooled their resources to preserve a historic schoolhouse.” [4]

that old house is gonna be shaking
that old house is gonna be shaking

Conclusion: The Future for Heritage Preservation and Conservation

The future of preservation is “bright,” however, this is a long term battle. “Local political and economic interests have considerable sway over the projects that are able to survive.” [10] “And the National Trust argues that government support should be increased so states can build affordable housing to replace aging public school buildings, repair schools and build emergency shelters.” [11] “The new property tax code favors homeowners, which means wealthy neighborhoods can easily capture government funds.” [12] “An overly aggressive code could condemn the best, most important buildings to disappear.” [13]
The future of preservation is bright!
Local political and economic interests have considerable sway over the projects that are able to survive.
And the National Trust argues that government support should be increased so states can build affordable housing to replace aging public school buildings, repair schools and build emergency shelters.
The new property tax code favors homeowners, which means wealthy neighborhoods can easily capture government funds.
An overly aggressive code could condemn the best, most important buildings to disappear.
Protecting historic buildings is a long-term battle. Reputation is lost and building fabric is damaged when historic houses are demolished or when new construction does not respect the local building fabric. This happens as we have seen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.
We see that for preservation to be successful, it must be supported by politics, solutions that can take place over the long term and solutions that benefit the whole community and not just individual owners.
Protecting historic buildings is a long-term battle. Reputation is lost and building fabric is damaged when historic houses are demolished or when new construction does not respect the local building fabric.
This happens as we have seen in New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina.

that old house is gonna be shaking
that old house is gonna be shaking