I’m Conflicted

Let me just start out by saying that I appreciate that there’s an entity like the National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded, non-profit organization. If you don’t know anything about them, here’s a short mission statement from their official website:

“Our mission is to protect significant places representing our diverse cultural experience by taking direct action and inspiring broad public support.”

My wife and I are members of the NTHP because it looks like they are the best managed, most effective organization on a national level working to save our architectural heritage.

So what exactly is my conflict? The NTHP defines saving places as either returning buildings to their former state or supporting the repurposing of buildings for other things. An example of repurposing would be changing a landmark bank founded in the early 1800s into a hotel or maybe a residence. Is that truly saving places, or just preserving their superficial looks (like Disney World’s Main Street – real or just an amusement park facade)?

I guess that I shouldn’t be so naïve as to believe that money isn’t at the core of everything in the United States when, honestly, it is. The location of many important historic sites is too valuable to just let them remain as museums for education and enlightenment. Facing the reality that buildings either transform or be destroyed, I understand that you save what you can. Still, it bothers me that our society values money over heritage more often than it should.

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