ALL AROUND | Preservation groups


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Delineator magazineThe purpose of these events is to help people understand their old houses & to feel that they have better control over them, using best preservation methods & materials. They also provide the opportunity to recruit committee members. Only through education will we be able to create enough interest & noise to change minds, raise awareness & encourage action to save our built heritage.

Preservation is a message that must be delivered repeatedly to combat the messages that the media/marketing delivers daily-
“Age lines wiped away…”
(Today, the global anti-aging market is valued at around 62 billion U.S. dollars in 2021 & is expected to increase to some 93 billion by 2027.)
“Replace your old wood windows!”
“It’s a miracle material, never requiring any maintenance.”
“7 ways to make your old house look like a new one.”

And here we are, carrying the message that old is beautiful. It’s not that we can’t get it across. We can. We just have to be out there delivering it in an interesting, easy to understand manner. Again & again.

Some of the ways that we can do this in a public forum are slurped from the page for committee activities. They can be done/promoted to a small group or a large one. In a separate article on marketing, I will tell you some good ways to promote these activities to increase your committee’s visibility & increase attendance.

I strongly suggest that you provide name tags for attendees to fill out & wear. Ask them to include their style of house on the tag. This is a good conversation starter!


1. Film night.

Here’s a curated list of some of the most entertaining & informative preservation videos on YouTube. Some of them are short & you could provide a question & answer period between each one.

2. After you have a few committee members who are familiar with doing house history research, offer to help your neighbors with learning to research theirs. Maybe pair 2 or 3 newbies up with a more experienced person & let them
work together.

Gamble House

3. Broadly promote field trips to museums and house museums. Arrange for a special group tour. Include time for lunch at the venue to provide fellowship. Be a good host, introducing people to one another, ensuring no one feels left out.

4. Teach your community about the different architectural styles of buildings that are to be found in your neighborhood. This can be presented by a more knowledgeable member of the committee, someone from a local preservation group or a preservation architect or historian that you could find through your local AIA.

neighborhood preservation Committee award5. Award people who have done sensitive renovations in your neighborhood. You can even award folks who have done very little, maybe even just painted with historically appropriate colors. The key thing is that you want to call attention to preservation & you want to reward anything positive anyone is doing.

You can also give awards to neighbors who have contributed to preservation efforts, including those on your committee. These activities can bring a great deal of positive attention to your neighborhood, your association & your committee. The awards are presented at a public event for which you can get print & online press. You might be able to get grants to pay for the awards (banners, plaques, whatever) & also to pay for the presentation events. The Chicago Bungalow Association has some great award programs & they are a very friendly & helpful organization.

6. Host a field trip to a local salvage outlet. Set it up with the proprietor to provide a tour & to answer questions. Follow with lunch so that people can get to know one another.

Old House Classes7. Host workshops that teach people how to restore & maintain their houses. Here you can read about classes that are offered in different parts of the country. There’s also a section about hosting your own. I’m still working on that manual!

You could partner with a non-profit on this or with a salvage yard. This event can be a good fundraiser.

8. Many neighborhoods host home tours. This is a tried & true method of revitalizing a blighted or transitioning neighborhood. Many have home tour committees in place, but if your neighborhood does not, I think it’s a great idea for a preservation committee & can be a big fundraiser.

I have another almost completed manual that walks you through the steps of producing a tour. (I think I need to focus!)

9. Connect with nearby historic neighborhoods that have related activities & team up with them. Encourage your team to help them at their events & request their participation in yours.

10. Your particular neighborhood will offer unique possibilities beyond what I am suggesting. Be alert to what your community’s needs & interests are & strive to respond to them.

Be sure to read the introductory article on building community through neighborhood preservation groups as well as the one about activities designed specifically for your committee members.

Feel free to contact me if you need assistance on any of these activities or ideas that might better suit your neighborhood.

Old typewriter


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