Some Preservation Fundamentals
ROBERT E. STIPE
The context of preservation has greatly changed over the last half century. Like the editors and contributors to With Heritage So Rich forty years ago,1 we are faced with a host of new issues, as well as some old ones. Like its predecessor, this book is biased toward traditional values, but it also represents an attempt to deal with the preservation issues of our own day as a new century beckons. The prologue to this book poses a question, “why preserve.?,” that is still unasked and unanswered for a majority of the public. We thus must confront a major public educational task, one even greater and more complex than in 1966. How we approach that task and how well we succeed in completing it depends, first, on how well we understand the larger context of preservation as an emerging phenomenon in America.
Preservation's basic values have vastly changed since 1966. The early associative values centered almost exclusively on history and architecture as the most valued cultural resources. In recent years, however, we have moved beyond that narrow view. For example, National Register Criterion A (“the broad patterns of our history”) has in most states become as important as style and design in architecture, and archaeology is a prominent value in the western states. A wide variety of specialized resources such as battlefields, designed and vernacular landscapes, mines, recent buildings, entire inner-city neighborhoods, and vernacular buildings are now widely accepted, as are a broad range of newly popular resources: highway commercial “strip business” developments, early filling stations, ships, lighthouses, outstanding contemporary buildings, and post—World War II subdivisions. Racial, tribal, and ethnic interests are firmly embedded in our preservation programs, and many would agree that such in-