This book has its origins in a number of informal conversations between the editor and various college and university educators and other professionals over a period of several years. All of them agreed on the need for a new textbook on historic preservation in America. As these conversations took place, it became increasingly clear that such a text should not only describe the whodoes-what-and-how of preservation at the beginning of the new century, but should also provide a larger, long-term perspective that would trace important changes that have taken place in American preservation in recent decades. This volume is the result. I hope that it will be not only a useful text for those who intend to enter the field of historic preservation as professionals, but also a source of ideas for administrators, volunteers, and preservation policymakers at all levels of government and in the private sector.
In a very real sense, the progenitor of this work is an earlier volume entitled With Heritage So Rich, the book most often credited with the passage by Congress of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which catapulted the movement forward and gave us the unified national system that has been in effect ever since.
This book does not pretend to have the political clout or prestige of that earlier volume. It is not sponsored by the U.S. Conference of Mayors and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, nor will it be distributed to every member of Congress. It does not advocate a comprehensive, top-to-bottom remake of the American preservation system then considered urgent, although the passage of time mandates some changes. The historic preservation scene, the people and institutions that make it work, and, indeed, its underlying values have changed significantly since that earlier time. A reappraisal is in order.
The machinery of historic preservation has now come mostly into the hands of a younger generation that brings to the movement new and different—and sometimes controversial—visions of what is important. These new preservationists add many more strands to the preservation rope, but it is not yet woven