Historic Preservation

In Beyond Preservation, Andrew Hurley discusses preservation in the inner-city neighborhoods in the 1970s. Revitalizing the city to highlight historic features proved prosperous to both residents and tourism. But there were critics. According to Hurley, “many traditional preservationist goals were sacrificed on the alter of profit,” and landscapes for profit “were barely interpreted at all” (19). Rather than unifying the communities, they created a divide. Subjects like slavery were ignored while the past became romanticized. According to a survey conducted in the late 1990s, women and African Americans were “severely underrepresented” or absent from historic markers (33). The situation needed improvement to say the least.

In order to get neighborhood involvement and interest in restoration, public history and archeology helped residents to engage. An example of this is the Scott Joplin House where African Americans in the community made up 90% of the café’s patrons (114). The café served a community need and strengthened community presence. When people focused on the community needs rather than profit, it also prevented gentrification.

Cultural features in neighborhoods as well as natural features need restoration or protection. Inner-city neighborhoods also need to “improve access to recreational space, and ameliorate the deleterious effects of dirty air, soil contamination, and water pollution.” (123) This is why environmental history is important to stabilizing inner-city neighborhoods. Combining environmental history with architecture and public history can be a catalyst for economic growth (199)

The videos in Washington Trust for Historic Preservation’s Most Endangered List are great examples that illustrate what Hurley’s book is trying to capture. St. Ignatius hospital in Colfax was the first to serve Whitman County in 1892. Seven decades later, the building was a mix of Victorian era and modern style that housed an assisted care facility. Presently unused, the building is full of mold, asbestos, and is looked upon with “serious concern.” How can the city use this building in a productive way? Is there is a way to ‘green’ the building and minimize carbon impacts while engaging the community?

The plan to demolish the 1909 Jensen-Byrd building in 2012 was shot down by the Spokane City Council. Thanks to members of the Spokane Preservation Advocates, the building was saved. According to Juliet Sinisterra, owner of Sun People Dry Goods Co. “The Jensen-Byrd Building is irreplaceable.” In the article, “WSU to make Jensen-Byrd building a gathering place,” David Wasson explains that the historic Jensen-Byrd building will now be the “focal point of a new plaza and gathering place that also will serve as a downtown gateway to the Spokane campus.” It is a part of Spokane’s character and although there is not a timeline nor a budget, hopefully preservation advocates, architects, and public and environmental historians can come together for a creative and beneficial use for the building.

 

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