Community Agriculture Alliance: What is historic preservation?


— A newcomer to the historic preservation world a few years ago, it has taken me a little time to grasp all that historic preservation really is and all that it can be.


Courtesy photo

Meg Tully

Past Event

Historic Routt County Annual Meeting

  • Tuesday, October 15, 2013, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m.
  • Steamboat Art Museum, 807 Lincoln Ave., Steamboat, CO
  • Not available


The textbook definition in Wikipedia says, “Historic preservation is an endeavor that seeks to preserve, conserve and protect buildings, objects, landscapes or other artifacts of historical significance. It tends to refer specifically to the preservation of the built environment, and not to preservation of, for example, primeval forests or wilderness.”

Although accurate, I think this definition is a little flat, don’t you? I don’t blame you if you’re looking for a bit more.

Bob Yapp, of Preservation Resources, came to Steamboat Springs a couple of weeks ago. Yapp has been involved in the restoration and rehabilitation of more than 150 historic properties, many of them award winning. Currently, Yapp and his wife, Pat, are developing, producing and hosting a new weekly public radio program for national distribution called “About Your House.” I love Yapp’s motto that “preservation doesn’t cost, it pays.”

From his presentation, Yapp cited many reasons why historic preservation is the cool thing to do:

• Preservation is about maintaining or preserving our built environment. It’s as much about community and positive economics as it is about saving our architectural heritage.

• Preservation is a strategic ingredient in the revitalization of historic neighborhoods and downtowns.

• Preservation usually costs less than new construction.

• Preservation increases property values and a community’s property tax base.

• Preservation has been at the forefront of the “green movement” for 50 years.

My own experience working on projects across the county for the past few years has shown me firsthand that historic preservation is really about people. It’s about honoring the hard work and quality craftsmanship of generations before us. It’s about taking pride in and using what we have and, in so doing, saving our resources. It’s about coming together for a common cause. It’s about creative solutions, helping one another and working hard to get the job done. It’s about the past, the present and the future coming together under one roof.

This, to me, is what makes my job special.

No project is the same, just as no person is the same. Each project carries with it a sense of something honorable, something precious, and each project connects us with stories and experiences that bind us together. To me, historic preservation is a beautiful tapestry that showcases who we were, who we are and who we can be.

Speaking of coming together, I invite everyone to attend Historic Routt County’s annual meeting from 5 to 7 p.m. Oct. 15 at the Steamboat Art Museum. Browse the latest exhibit, enjoy dinner and wine, learn who wins this year’s Preservation Leadership Award and treat yourself to the fabulous dessert potluck.

Come see for yourself why historic preservationists have more fun.

Meg Tully is a certified association executive, executive director of Historic Routt County and owner of Nonprofit Know How, which provides services to nonprofits.


Leellen Koroulis 3 years, 6 months ago

With all due respect to the author, just what is historic preservation? What do historic preservation and core curriculum have in common? Take a look:

Before you start crying "black helicopter" do your own research. It is time to call a spade a spade. While we are weaving "a beautiful tapestry that showcases who we were, who we are and who we can be," I would ask you to take a very thoughtful and educated approach regarding the property rights you may be relinquishing forever.

With respect to preservation increasing property values, I would ask you to look at the value of property that is in conservation easements vs. the value of property that still contains development rights. How do conservation easements increase our tax base? As more property is conserved, less is available to fully contribute to the tax base. Vast swaths of land have been forever closed to their greatest economic development potential throughout our county and state. The economic impact on a community because of a lack of development in perpetuity seems to have been grievously ignored in our quest for green. We need to look a little further than the end of our noses when we are dictating the use of property years from now - when we are long in the grave.

"Preservation has been at the forefront of the 'green movement' for 50 years," and if you would like to learn more about the "green movement" please read the excellent book, Behind the Green Mask.

And speaking of weaving . . .

Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practise to deceive! Sir Walter Scott, Marmion, Canto vi. Stanza 17. Scottish author & novelist (1771 - 1832)


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