Community Agriculture Alliance: What is historic preservation?
September 19, 2013
Steamboat Springs — 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.
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.