Rebuilding Place in the Urban Space

"A community’s physical form, rather than its land uses, is its most intrinsic and enduring characteristic." [Katz, EPA] This blog focuses on place and placemaking and all that makes it work--historic preservation, urban design, transportation, asset-based community development, arts & cultural development, commercial district revitalization, tourism & destination development, and quality of life advocacy--along with doses of civic engagement and good governance watchdogging.

Monday, April 15, 2013

How the Historic Savannah Foundation leverages National Preservation Month in May

One of my complaints about nonprofits, and in this case in the historic preservation world, is the frequent failure of organizations in leveraging the promotional and media value of existing scheduled events (and celebrations) as a way to focus and get more attention on what they work on and the often great results they have to show for it.

More communities should use National Preservation Month as an "excuse" to generate positive local publicity

The perfect example in the historic preservation world is National Historic Preservation Month in May.  To my way of thinking, that's the best time, especially since it's the start of spring and the idea of open houses and spring cleaning can be leveraged as well, to generate awareness and offer educational opportunities outside of the normal and typical monthly meeting and occasional house tour.

It's not like preservation groups don't know how to generate publicity around buildings that are threatened with demolition or neglect.   Preservation groups are actually good at using the annual production of lists of threatened properties as a way to generate publicity and media attention, for example, in DC, Chicago--Preservation Chicago's list is called the "Chicago 7," and nationally.

Preservation Month offers the opportunity to celebrate success.

Marquee, Atlas Performing Arts Center
The Atlas Performing Arts Center, one of the anchors of DC's revitalized H Street NE commercial district, is a designated historic landmark.  Monetizing federal historic preservation tax credits--20% of the cost of a certified rehabilitation--as a source of funds was essential to the funding of the $20+ million rehabilitation project.

Use Preservation Month to leverage and connect the efforts of a community's various historic preservation organizations, campaigns, and efforts

Another complaint I have in a city like Washington and even the region is the failure to leverage the potential value of the network of local preservation organizations in the city to jointly organize and present a calendar of events and activities--in order words, every group doesn't have to do a session on windows.  One group can schedule a presentation on windows, another on roofs, etc., and share the meetings (and knowledge) across their respective memberships.

Chicago 7 list of threatened historic resources, Preservation Chicago
There are at least 10 neighborhood groups (Capitol Hill Restoration Society, Cleveland Park Historical Society, Dupont Circle Conservancy, Historic Mount Pleasant, Historic Takoma are some that come to mind off the bat), 46 historic districts, the citywide DC Preservation League, the city historic preservation office, the Historic Preservation Review Board, the Old Georgetown Board, some remnant Main Street commercial district revitalization groups, plus other organizations that deal with preservation in some form.

DC is so enriched by the fruits of historic preservation--with
with 46 historic districts--preservation was essential for the stabilization of what again became attractive neighborhoods like Capitol Hill, Georgetown, Le Droit Park, etc.--and thousands and thousands of buildings designated as historic, Preservation Month ought to be alive with activity in a city like DC.

Savannah as a developing counter-example

Historic Savannah Foundation, over the past couple years, has created the "Annual Savannah Preservation Festival" in May--National Preservation Month--to do exactly what I have been recommending.

Without trying too hard, DC could do a fabulous May "Open House" for Preservation, with house tours (every May, both Historic Takoma and Capitol Hill Restoration Society sponsor house tours anyway), talks, neighborhood tours, etc.

Historic Savannah Foundation Announces Schedule for Second Annual Savannah Preservation Festival in May

SAVANNAH, Ga. – Preservation is in the air! Historic Savannah Foundation, a leading preservation organization committed to preserving and protecting Savannah's heritage, has officially announced the schedule for the 2013 Savannah Preservation Festival, which takes place in May.

This second annual celebration of National Preservation Month will officially kick off on Thursday, May 2. All events are open to the public and reinforce HSF’s ongoing mission of education and outreach.

“This festival celebrates Savannah’s commitment to preservation and underscores why Savannah is such a popular destination for heritage travelers,” said Daniel Carey, president and CEO of Historic Savannah Foundation. “As Savannah gears up to host the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s annual conference in November of 2014, we’re delighted to celebrate the positive impacts of preservation on one of America’s most beautiful cities.”

Savannah Preservation Festival ticket packages are currently available online at

Festival schedule:

Savannah Preservation Festival Launch Party
Thursday, May 2
6 - 9 p.m.
Ships of the Sea Museum North Garden, 41 Martin Luther King, Jr. Blvd.
Historic Savannah Foundation will kick-off the festival with a spring garden soiree featuring live music by local favorites, The Accomplices. Returning this year is the exclusive art auction curated by CAS Fine Arts. Also be the first to view the Pennies for Preservation Poster contest. Mingle with members of the International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS) who selected Savannah as the location for the organization’s 2013 International Symposium, which is co-hosted by the Savannah College of Art and Design. Sample cuisine by top local restaurateurs, caterers and chefs.

HSF Preservation Awards Luncheon
Thursday, May 9
11:30 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Chatham Club, 15 E. Liberty Street (inside the Hilton Savannah DeSoto)
Each year, HSF presents awards recognizing Savannah’s top preservation projects. Winners of these coveted preservation awards will be announced at a special luncheon.

Preservation Wine Tour
Friday, May 17
6 – 9 p.m.
Locations throughout Savannah’s National Historic Landmark District
Tour some of Savannah’s finest private homes and HSF award-winning properties and learn the stories behind the preservation efforts which restored some of these architectural jewels. Attendees can also sample featured wines paired with gourmet appetizers.

Andrée Iffrig Lecture – “Urban Village Narratives”
Tuesday, May 21
6:30 p.m.
Mickve Israel Congregation, 20 E. Gordon Street
Andrée Iffrig -- award-winning architect, community builder and professional writer -- will speak about preserving a sense of place through ongoing community activism and urban narratives. Reception immediately following. This lecture is free and open to the public, and is supported by the Georgia Humanities Council and the National Endowment for the Humanities and through appropriations from the Georgia General Assembly.

The Wrap Party: The Pearl of Preservation
Thursday, May 23
6 - 9 p.m.
Isaiah Davenport House Garden, 324 E. State Street, and Kennedy Pharmacy, 323 E. Broughton Street (directly behind the Davenport House)
Celebrate the success of the month-long festival by joining the Wrap Party: The Pearl of Preservation. This 1950s-inspired cocktail party honors HSF founders and their pearl of achievement, the Davenport House.
Delight your palate with delicious hors d’oeuvres provided by Bonefish Grill in cooperation with Vic’s on the River and Gigi’s Cupcakes. Enjoy live music and dancing with the big sounds of Jeremy Davis and the Equinox Quintet.

Historic Savannah Foundation is a non-profit historic preservation organization supported by a strong and dedicated membership. HSF was established in 1955 in order to save the 1820 Isaiah Davenport House from demolition. From this initial project, Historic Savannah Foundation launched a Revolving Fund which has since saved 350+ buildings. The mission of Historic Savannah Foundation is to preserve and protect Savannah’s heritage through advocacy, education and community involvement. For more information, visit us online.  

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At 12:08 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

maybe CHRS could drop some of their lawsuits for a few months and concentrate on actual historic preservation and celebration of it?


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