Historic Preservation in Indiana
143 Pages
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143 Pages


Personal and public values in the preservation of place

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Over the last half century, historic preservation has been on the rise in American cities and towns, from urban renewal and gentrification projects to painstaking restoration of Victorian homes and architectural landmarks. In this book, Nancy R. Hiller brings together individuals with distinctive styles and perspectives, to talk about their passion for preservation. They consider the meaning of place and what motivates those who work to save and care for places; the role of place in the formation of identity; the roles of individuals and organizations in preserving homes, neighborhoods, and towns; and the spiritual as well as economic benefits of preservation. Richly illustrated, Historic Preservation in Indiana is an essential book for everyone who cares about preserving the past for future generations.

Foreword by Duncan Campbell
Introduction Nancy R. Hiller
1. Historic Preservation Henry Glassie
2. Economics and Restoration: The Story of a Neighborhood's Rebirth Bill Sturbaum
3. Ode to a Bungalow Teresa Miller
4. The Old Library Debate: How Bloomington, Indiana Preserved Its Carnegie Library
Elizabeth Schlemmer
5. On Loan from the Sea Scott Russell Sanders
6. Industrial Muncie Cynthia Brubaker
7. Preservation as Good Business Gayle Cook
8. Passing Through: Historic Preservation in Pike County's Patoka Bottoms Edith Sarra
9. "Where's the Porch?" and Other Intersections between Archaeology and Historic Preservation Cheryl Munson
10. Preservation in Our Parks: A Natural Fit Vicki Basman and Benjamin Clark
11. Bloomington Restorations: Saving Landmarks, Neighborhoods, and Bloomington's Sense of Place
Donald Granbois and Steve Wyatt
12. Guinea Hens in the Churchyard: Signposts of Maple Grove Road Lauren Coleman
13. No Place Like Home: Preservation, the Past, and Personal Identity David Brent Johnson



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Published 11 October 2013
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EAN13 9780253010674
Language English
Document size 4 MB

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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Historic Preseration in Indiana : essays from the field / edited by Nancy R. Hiller; photographs by Kristen Clement. pages cm.– Includes bibliographical references ISBN 978-0-253-01046-9 – (paperback : alkaline paper) – ISBN 978-0-253-01067-4 (ebook) 1. Historic preseration – Indiana. 2. Historic buildings – Conseration and restoration – Indiana. I. Hiller, Nancy R., editor. 2013008453 1 2 3 4 5 18 17 16 15 14 13
There’s an actual relationship, when you go into a building that’s very beautiful, and it’s awe-inspiring, and it’s uplifting…. It elevates the soul. FATHER MICHAEL WALKER, Joy of All Who Sorrow Orthodox Church, Indianapolis
IntroductionNancy R. Hiller 1 Historic PreservationHenry Glassie 2 Economics and Restoration: The Story of a Neighborhood’s RebirthBill Sturbaum 3 Ode to a BungalowTeresa Miller 4 The Old Library Debate: How Bloomington, Indiana Preserved Its Carnegie LibraryElizabeth Schlemmer 5 On Loan from the SeaScott Russell Sanders 6 Industrial MuncieCynthia Brubaker 7 Preservation as Good BusinessGayle Karch Cook 8 Passing Through: Historic Preservation in Pike County’s Patoka BottomsEdith Sarra 9 “Where’s the Porch?” and Other Intersections between Archaeology and Historic PreservationCheryl Ann Munson 10 Preservation in Our Parks: A Natural FitVicki Basman and Benjamin Clark 11 Bloomington Restorations: Saving Landmarks, Neighborhoods, and Bloomington’s Sense of PlaceDonald Granbois and Steve Wyatt 12 Guinea Hens in the Churchyard: Signposts of Maple Grove RoadLauren Coleman 13 No Place Like Home: Preservation, the Past, and Personal IdentityDavid Brent Johnson
Duncan Campbell
I have always been struck by the passion and fervor of historic preservationists and environmental activists. They have a thirst, an appetite for their respective causes that sustains their advocacy and fuels their zeal. This is as it should be. After all, there is a lot at stake: cut down a Sequoia or tear down Penn Station and they are gone forever. There is little room for compromise among combatants and lots of room for disappointment and anger when your cause is lost. The prize is the nation’s real estate, and there is precious little of it left to go around. Of course there are many important causes, each with its champions. Elections, business deals, and even sporting events can also involve high stakes, and their respective advocates, whether campaign workers, CEOs, or soccer fans can be just as fervent. In contrast, though – and this is not to suggest that these other activities don’t matter – there will always be another election, another business opportunity, and another game: an opportunity to even the score, tweak the market, field another team. There will never be another Penn Station or stand of Sequoias. What distinguishes environmental and historic preservation advocates from other activists is that the threats they battle have irrevocable results. A highway cut or razed building can be absorbed emotionally, but the place will never be the same. The tree-hugger and the building-hugger understand this, and though not everyone agrees that protecting a landmark and defending a forest are quite the same thing, each proponent in his or her own way is fighting the same battle: the battle for place. When I ask students why they want to study historic preservation, or what first motivated them toward an interest in historic sites, invariably their responses describe a meaningful experience of a place: a grandparent’s house, a trip to Williamsburg, a favorite neighborhood. Natural resources students convey similar experiences: a first glimpse of Yosemite, camping in a national forest, a trail construction stint in a state park. Both say they have experienced the loss of a place meaningful to them. My own path to historic preservation was circuitous, and perhaps not typical, but my motivation to protect both the natural and built environments is predicated on a respect for the importance of place that was constructed from a childhood enjoyment of nature, trips to historic sites, reading history, old house carpentry, a preservation graduate degree, consultant and advocacy work, and a stint as a university professor – overall, a lot of time observing, caring for, studying, and just being in the presence of irreplaceable places. Coupled to this is another aspect of my own character that I see shared by other preservers: a desire to do right, to defend places of value. For many, and I have witnessed it among students as well as more seasoned preservation believers, it is an ethical commitment consistent with a closely held sense of right and wrong. Protecting and saving meaningful places is the right thing to do. The defense of special and historic places, whether wild natural landscapes or our most meaningful constructions, is challenging on several fronts. In both arenas choices are complex and undertakings can be long and arduous, often taking many years; in a real sense, the job is never done. As a consequence, we commonly refer to environmental or preservation advocacy as movements, ideas whose manifestations persist over several generations, engage high stakes battles, and command from their followers a shared sense of what is right. But what makes this possible? What is the ingredient that enables an idea about protecting place to be important enough to sustain itself as a movement, to engender passion in its advocates? I suggest that we are the ultimate beneficiaries of saving meaningful places. We do it for ourselves, our communities, our fellow human beings. People experience place. We get something in return for being in meaningful places, something I think of as sustenance, though it may be closer to redemption. I believe John Muir, the naturalist, thought of it as salvation. In the fall of 2009, filmmakers David Duncan and Ken Burns aired the public television series “The National Parks: America’s Best Idea,” which conveyed in their pioneering style the developmental history of our national park system. In the telling, the eloquence and fervor of naturalist and Sierra Club founder John Muir emerged as a key part of the story, revealing – perhaps for the first time to many viewers – the important advocacy role that Muir assumed in motivating President Theodore Roosevelt to establish our system of national parks. Environmentalists, of course, have long cherished John Muir’s capacity for rapture in the presence of wild places, and his moving essays recounting his own explorations are well known. Perhaps less well known is his emotional defense of the wilderness. I encountered his writing in my twenties, while living in California and having the occasion to hike and camp in the Sierra Range, and I credit him as one who
helped motivate me toward my eventual career in historic preservation, even though, to my recollection, he never mentions it by name. Many years later, reading his letters, I discovered his familiar quote, “Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded.” The letter in which the quote appears was written by Muir, then president of the Sierra Club, advocating for the protection of Hetch-Hetchy Valley in Yosemite National Park against the proposal to flood the valley for San Francisco’s water supply – a campaign he ultimately lost, but that remarkably continues today as advocates conduct feasibility studies for the removal of the reservoir. Brought back to the public’s attention by Ken Burns in the PBS special, Muir’s comment is credited both to a letter to the 1908 Governors’ Conference on Conservation, and to a memorandum to J. Horace McFarland, president of the American Civic Association. The letter was subsequently read into the Congressional Record at hearings held before the committee on the Public Lands of the House of Representatives in December 1908. When the PBS presentation was initially broadcast, an interviewer asked Burns, appropriately, what he considered John Muir’s greatest contribution. I have never forgotten his response: “He taught us that we don’t save these places, these places save us.” At a time when protecting the natural environment and the built environment can occasion conflict between their respective advocates, it is important to recognize the commonalities in both efforts, as well as the benefits that result from the defense of both the natural and built environments. It is not, to my mind, a choice between one or the other. If we require, as Muir believed, a regular dose of nature in all her resplendence for our spiritual well being – these places save us – I would argue that we derive much the same benefit from our ancestral gifts, historic places. There are no man-made historic places as ancient as the Grand Canyon, although there are certainly historic places that are as uplifting. Comparisons of place will always be subjective, and each will have its own devotees. But saving places should not be a contest 1 between places; it is a contest between right and wrong – all meaningful places need to be protected. Let me put John Muir’s quote in the context of his original letter: “Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded. Thus the Yosemite Park, the beauty glory of California and the Nation, Nature’s own mountain wonderland, has been attacked by spoilers ever since it was established, and this strife I suppose, must go on as part of the eternal battle between right and wrong.” If Muir’s lesson is that the best places in nature are necessary for our well-being, then it follows that to advocate for their preservation is to advocate for our own. I have to think the same is true for saving historic places. We need these places to fully experience our humanness. An understanding, even an exposure to the ancestral past, is a condition for being in the present, and for molding the future. Preservation rhetoric is replete with references to community and the benefits to communities derived from saving neighborhoods. Jane Jacobs championed this notion, and no one has successfully refuted it. It is right to protect human communities, and wrong not to. There is, I acknowledge, the problem of choosing to protect the places that mean the most for the greatest number, which best serve the public good, ultimately a political consideration – another reason to vote. And historic preservationists have come to learn that most preservation happens locally, where citizens are best equipped to make those choices. It comes down to determining who is going to make the decisions, who will represent our political will; and in a country where private ownership of land, the profit-taking exploitation of resources, natural or otherwise, and personal wealth are the preferred qualifications for political empowerment, making those choices can be daunting. Complex issues surround the meaning of place, issues that condition the delicate balance between the right and wrong choices, choices often prejudiced by economic opportunity, however benign. Muir’s insight, however, can be the advocate’s guide: “Nothing dollarable is safe, however guarded.” Protect those places that sustain you, that lift your spirit, that you need. Today’s “worthless” wilderness or depressed neighborhood is tomorrow’s exploited resource. Protect them even if you consider them safe, because sometime soon, “the spoilers” will want your place for themselves.
NOTE 1.http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=awxFgkuI8cMI. Interview with Zinta Lundborg, September 23, 2009.
Many people have worked to turn the idea for this book into reality. First among them is our sponsoring editor at the Indiana University Press, Linda Oblack, who championed the proposal and saw it through to contract. Linda’s assistant at the press, Sarah Jacobi, and project editor Nancy Lightfoot have also been unfailingly patient and helpful. Others who have made contributions, whether direct or indirect, are Lee and Eric Sandweiss, Nancy Hiestand, Evelyn Perry, Daniel O’Grady, Guy Loftman, Bruce Tone, Cem Basman, Fritz Lieber, James Madison, Barbara Cummings, David Tarrence, Tommy Kleckner, Marsh Davis, Tina Connor, Kara Vetter, Megan Worrell-Smith, Michael Galimore, Michael Szajewski, John Straw, David Garner, Pravina Shukla, and Kathryn Lofton. I am grateful to Bridget Edwards, Mary Krupinski, and Devin Blankenship for seriously considering contributing to this volume, even though circumstances kept each of them from doing so. Jonas Longacre has provided invaluable technical assistance. My gratitude goes to those who have contributed essays, as well as to Duncan Campbell, who crystallized his thoughts on a life devoted to preservation in his foreword. Duncan and my dear friend Edith Sarra made constructive suggestions that improved my introduction. Matthew Clement and Mark Longacre have been extraordinarily patient throughout this volume’s preparation. My special thanks go to Kristen Clement, who has graced this volume with her remarkable eye for beauty and shared with me, during our collaboration, her deep capacity for joy.