Having worked on historic preservation issues at the city, county, state, and national levels, I continually encounter requests for demolition because the building isn’t safe or no longer useful. The property owner or developer often assumes it’s the first time I’ve heard that the building is old fashioned, run-down, or an eyesore, or that it’s cheaper to build a new building than bring an old building up to code. Although it can be an uncomfortable conversation, it’s an opportunity to advocate for local history and community heritage. I’ll mention that the situation is often better than it seems and encourage them to get a professional opinion from a preservation architect and consider how tax credits can make a project feasible. But increasingly, I’ve encountered situations where the property owner has consulted with a professional who’s confirmed the opinion that the building needs to be demolished. Although the professionals may have borderline credibility, such as an architect who’s never worked with historic buildings or a salesperson for a window manufacturer, they frequently have the ability to convince commissioners and staff of the veracity of their opinions, alas. I sometimes wonder if it’s worth the struggle and frustrations.
Last week, I stayed at Colorado Chautauqua, a National Historic Landmark in Boulder, Colorado, and was reminded that preserving historic places is a battle worth fighting. If you’re not familiar with Continue reading