Heritage, Volume 8, Number 3, Summer 1990 Page: 28
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Book reviews alert us to recent research and thinking in afield as they
assess the value of the examined work. We in the preservation movement
have suffered not only from the paucity of book-length treatments of
preservation issues, but also from a dearth of occasions to reflect upon the
field as a whole and its trajectory. It follows then that when two works
are published by well-known leaders in preservation studies, and they are
reviewed by a third prominent member of our field, the review becomes
something of an occasion and deserves the widest possible attention. The
following review by editorial board member Michael Tomlan, first
appeared in the December 1989 issue of the Journal of the Society of
Architectural Historians (JSAH). It is reprinted here, courtesy of
Professor Tomlan and the JSAH, for those who have not yet seen it.
Robert E. Stipe and Antoinette J. Lee, Editors, The American
Mosaic: Preserving A Nation's Heritage, Washington, D.C.: US/
ICOMOS, 1987, 292 pages, 100 illustrations, $20.00 (paper).
William J. Murtagh, Keeping Time. The History and Theory of
Preservation in America, Pittstown, New Jersey: The Main Street
Press, 1988, 237 pages, 75 illustrations, $25.00.
Two books were published in 1988 that deal with the
developments of historic preservation in the United States. Both
are modestly priced and therefore easily within the reach of most
persons interested in the movement. Behind their respective
covers, however, there are considerable differences in their
purpose, scope and treatment of the material.
The ink was barely dry on the pages of The American Mosaic
when the doors opened at the Eighth ICOMOS General Assembly
and International Symposium, in Washington, D.C., on October
7th, 1988. The book was primarily meant to provide the more than
600 foreign delegates to the convention with an overview of
preservation activity in the United States. To do this the editors,
Robert E. Stipe and Antoinette J. Lee, assembled essays by a strong
team of contributing authors. Because the immediate audience was
mixed-consisting of archaeologists, art and architectural
historians, geographers, architects, planners, sociologists, and
conservators-the book was directed at a broad range of active
28 HERITAGE * SUMMER 1990
Stipe opens by presenting the overall outline for the book: first,
the governmental system of the United States; second, what is
being preserved and why; and third, the strengths and weaknesses
of the preservation process. The text is clearly written and wellorganized,
although historians who are not used to thinking in
terms of governmental structure-federal, state, and local-may
be put off, thinking they have encountered a primer on
Lawyer John Fowler, Deputy Executive Director of the
Advisory Council on Historic Preservation, quickly reviews the
early-twentieth century federal initiatives in order to focus on the
National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 and the partnership of
federal, state, and local government with the private sector. Most
useful is the discussion of the key elements of the federal
preservation program: the National Register, the Section 106
process, the tax incentives, grants-in-aid, federal management
regulations, and other federal protections.
Historian Elizabeth Lyon, Deputy State Historic Preservation
Officer for the State of Georgia, begins by reflecting on the
development of the preservation movement from the viewpoint of
her peers. She reviews how and why the states began to acquire
historic sites, the need for state enabling legislation, the
introduction of state historic registers before the National Register,
and their development since. More poignantly, Lyon examines the
recent past, wherein the work load of the State Historic
Preservation Offices has increased while federal assistance has
Lawyer J. Myrick Howard, Executive Director of the Historic
Preservation Foundation of North Carolina, promises to deal with
preservation and local government. As most people involved in
the movement quickly learn, this is "Where the Action Is."
However, his essay first reiterates the place of federal and state
legislation before slipping into a discussion of local government
funding sources and municipal regulatory programs.
The Reverend W. Brown Morton III, who teaches historic
preservation at Mary Washington College, assumes a higher plane
of discussion with the question "What Do We Preserve and Why?"
The test is a fluid and succinct summary of the historical works of
Charles Hosmer to which material has been added, bringing the
reader up through the legislation of the last two decades.
Here’s what’s next.
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Texas Historical Foundation. Heritage, Volume 8, Number 3, Summer 1990, periodical, Summer 1990; Austin, Texas. (texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth45427/m1/28/: accessed July 24, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History, texashistory.unt.edu; crediting Texas Historical Foundation.