Historic Preservation: This Place Matters

Years ago I stood with members of my community and encircled a beautiful old Victorian-style home and its grounds that stood very close to the road. The highway department had proposed the removal of a 250 year-old hickory tree and surrounding property so that a stop sign could be moved 10 feet. This property had been a mainstay on that sleepy corner for hundreds of years. Folks young and old came out to say that this place matters to them. Because of our efforts that place still stands.

May is Historic Preservation Month. The National Trust for Historic Preservation’s theme this year is, This Place Matters.

Why does place matter? The National Trust for Historic Preservation explains, “A sense of place results gradually and unconsciously from inhabiting a landscape over time, becoming familiar with its physical properties, accruing history within its confines….Preservation Month was designed to raise awareness about the power historic preservation has to protect and enhance our homes, neighborhoods and communities – the places that really matter to us. It provides an opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and towns, and enables all of us to become involved in the growing preservation movement.”

This Place Matters is a collaborative online project that allows citizens to help preserve and enhance places of their choice. It showcases the diverse places that matter to people across the country. This Place Matters honors these places by providing a platform where people can highlight their chosen place to protect.

Here’s how it works. From the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s website people download a This Place Matters poster and photograph or video themselves in front of their treasured place. The pictures or videos are posted on the website.

“Whether these sites are urban districts or rural landscapes, Native American landmarks or 20th-century sports arenas, entire communities or single buildings, the list spotlights historic places across America that are threatened by neglect, insufficient funds, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. At times, that attention has garnered public support to quickly rescue a treasured landmark, while in other instances, it has been the impetus of a long battle to save an important piece of our history.”

The National Trust for Historic Preservation is known for their 11 Most Endangered Historic Places List. A recent New York Times article explains how this year is different, “The current economic downturn is a mixed blessing for endangered buildings. Although more buildings are being neglected, fewer are threatened with demolition because development has slowed. In 22 years the trust has selected 211 sites worth saving and lost just 6 of them.”

Check out this youtube video about the Most Endangered Historic Places List:

This Place Matters is a grassroots project about individuals and communities. Their efforts may have a profound effect on preservation and building. They did in my community. Do you believe the greenest house is a house already built? Have you worked to save a special place?

Ronnie Citron-Fink lives in New York with her husband, two children (when they come home to the nest), two dogs and a cat. Ronnie is a teacher and a writer. She has been a contributing writer for Family Fun magazine. She currently writes articles about education and home design. Her writings are in four books including Family Fun Home and Some Delights of the Hudson Valley.