As folks who like to preserve things, we’d like to preserve everything. That’s how hoarders think, unfortunately, so we end up with houses full of trash. In order to win the big preservation battles, we can’t be hoarders. We need to pick our battles for the important and significant buildings and spaces.
As new buildings come along, fighting for space with the old, choices need to be made as to what gets preserved. It’s about whether or not the project can be “sold” to interested volunteers, donors, and future generations who will be needed to maintain the original efforts. Can a project be brought in under a budget that makes sense? Will the project have a life for years to come?
That’s where the concept of purposeful preservation comes in. We can’t assume that just because a house or building is old or historic that it can exist just on those merits. Eventually it will be taken for granted, and suffer neglect. The new preservation model is to have the structure or space be used as an integral part of the community. It needs a life beyond simply existing.
On a larger scale, open space is great. It’s also expensive to purchase. Can an open space also function as a community event space on an occasional basis? Can regular trail running events be held there to capture the imagination of the local running community? If it’s not wooded, can a few small music events be held there for families? Farmer’s markets? Can a house be a gathering space for young writers to share works? Art or photography exhibits? High school drama club period enactments of pop-up plays?
Multi-purpose will be the catchword for the future, engaging different subsets of communities within the broader population in order to enlist more volunteers and funding for a preservation effort.
We can help assess the potential for a multi-use preservation effort which will engage an entire town or community, insuring it’s success for not just the short-term, but for future generations.