I’m kind of against historic preservation unless you’ve made it to the 100-year mark on your own. Or someone famous died inside you.
If people are still alive that would have seen the structure in question built, it’s not worth preserving.
I just don’t understand the point otherwise.
The whole point of our built environment is that it can change with each new generation to meet their needs. If you lock certain buildings, or god forbid, entire neighborhoods into a legal historical preservation scheme, that land/building is pretty much useless and inflexible going forward. Sure, it will look quaint but it’s use to people will not be able to scale efficiently.
Actually, let me clarify. I don’t think that much in America is worth the effort of preemptively preserving. We have only really started to build important structures in the last 100-150 years. And for the last 50-60 we’ve built shitty- looking personal castles willy-nilly all over the place.
The major reason unimportant buildings get restored and rebuilt is because of government subsidies in the form of tax credits. There are some people that do redevelop these properties out of a love for the actual buildings, and I commend them for it.
I’m sure this opinion will develop further over time but I’m willing to discuss it with y’all!
4/26/12 ed: So I’ve tempered somewhat in the couple months since I initially wrote this post. I suppose my rigor came from how people who advocate historic preservation sometimes do so in a way that assumes any new construction will not surpass the original building in uses, or better serve its community. The same goes for designating a (single-family home)neighborhood as an historic preservation zone, which is even worse in practice than traditional protection of individual buildings. Is a living museum the best course of action? Or is documentation enough? In many central districts of smaller towns at this moment it is quite hard to justify the demolition of older structures especially when there is much unused or underutilized property in close proximity that should be built upon first. Scars of urban renewal that need to be grafted over.
Other times historic preservation seems like it is the nuclear option for communities that don’t approve of new development near them. This absence of a middle option for communities seems like it is a space for civil innovation. Also, how much do the historical tax credits exist just to prevent demolition? Many of the tools the government has appear to be inflexible which will be where our generation makes its mark, in my opinion.