ALL AROUND | Preservation groups


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Before a historic preservation committee meeting in a bungalow dining roomThe association has sent out notices of the meeting; you have trotted about the neighborhood, sticking fliers in the doors of all the residents & posters in the windows of all the businesses; you have communicated on an individual basis with everyone you know, inviting them to come, urging them to tell others, & you have a few RSVP’s.

You have watched the video that you will show at the first meeting several times & you have worked out the important points are. You will discuss these points in your first meeting.

You have reviewed the glossary & have gotten any questions about any of the terms answered. You feel like you have some familiarity with all of them.

You have figured out where to seat everyone, put out some lemonade & snacks & have the T.V. connected to YouTube. You have created your sign-in sheet (Name, phone # & email address) & gathered a couple pens, & set them out where they are easy to see. I’m a big fan of name tags. When you are trying to learn the name of more than one person (or heck, even one!) it is handy to have a visual aid. Simple mailing labels will do fine.


1. Greeting & welcome. What do you do when the people arrive? Ask each person to write his/her/their name on the tag & the style of house in which they live. Request that they sign in.

We have always started with a brief tour of the host’s house. (I’m going to assume that you are the host for the first meeting.) Take them through the architectural features important to the period, the restoration you have done, & tell them about any house history you have uncovered. Invite them into the room where the meeting will be held & point them to the snacks. We often sat at the host’s dining table. It is a cozy & intimate space & allows everyone to speak & be heard by everyone.

2. Introductions. When the last stragglers have arrived, go around the table for introductions. Start with yourself, stating your interest in preservation, & any training or experience you might have. Ask each one in turn about their interests. (Be on the lookout for people with experience & follow up personally with them. They may be your new best friend!) Ask how they wish to benefit from being part of a preservation committee. What do they want to learn? How do they wish to contribute? Take notes. This is important!

3. The video. Introduce this video. The speaker, Rhonda Sincavage works with The National Trust for Historic Preservation, a privately funded,  nonprofit organization, that has led the movement to save America’s historic places for over 70 years.

Play the video. Go through the points that you have noted as important & ask for discussion. Ask if there is anything that she mentioned that they would like to know more about.

4. Intro to The Secretary’s Standards & Guildelines. The U.S. Department of the Interior protects & manages our country’s natural resources & cultural heritage, providing scientific & other information about those resources. A body of information, researched & formulated by top preservationists, The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, was written to provide guidance to historic building owners & building managers, preservation consultants, architects & contractors prior to beginning work.

Tell the group that this is the basis of historic preservation in the United States. We are going to learn more about it, & how it is applied next week.

5. More Q&A time. Ask if anyone has any questions or comments. Invite them to stick around to munch & chat. This gently adjourns the meeting, while encouraging people to stick around.

Let me know if you should have any questions about what to do so far.

Old typewriter


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Just knowing these basic historic preservation glossary terms will take you far in understanding the principles & practices of historic preservation. The majority of the terms were developed by...


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