Building the public trust: Preservation’s middle age?

Editor’s note: This post continues a series commemorating the anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act by examining a past article published in The Public Historian, describing its significance and relating it to contemporary conversations in historic preservation.

Brucemore in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was bequeathed to the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1981. Photo credit: Wikipedia

When Madeline Cirrillo Archer published “Where We Stand: Preservation Issues in the 1990s,” she sought to assess the challenges facing a movement that was a quarter-century old. In 1991, historic preservation was soon to be an interest of mine. Now, as the Director for Programs and Publications at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, revisiting this article and the period it chronicled has been an opportunity for me to see if the principles and thinking that drew me to the field and were the basis of my introduction to historic preservation still held true. Would the ideas and ideals still resonate with me (and others) today, 25 years later? How does preservation’s maturity compare to its “young adulthood?” Where do we, in fact, stand as compared to Archer’s predictions? Continue reading