Historic Preservation

illustration by Paul HoffmanPlanners have increasingly come to recognize the importance of historic preservation to strong and vital communities.

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Vacant downtown movie theater in Niles, Michigan, is slated for restoration.

A Main Street Succeeds in Tough Times

One small Michigan city is focusing its efforts on building a strong downtown. A look at some of the challenges and opportunities facing Niles, Michigan.

portion of façade of Detroit Michigan's abandoned Central Railroad Station

Preservation or Demolition?

For generations it was one of the iconic images of Detroit: the majestic Michigan Central Railroad Station & Tower. The image of the Station today still carries a message — but it’s a message of a city in decline. But does that mean the best solution is for the City to tear down the structure?

portion of George Inness painting, The Lackawanna Valley

For the Love of Steam

“Steamtown” is a national park site in the heart of downtown Scranton dedicated to railroading. I worked on the initial plan for Steamtown back in the 1980s when I was a National Park Service planner — and was quite curious to see how Steamtown looked (and worked) today.

photos from Main Street mill in Richford, Vermont

Main Street Mill: “The Perfect Trifecta”

I returned to the small town of Richford, Vermont, as the starting point of my travel plans for this Spring. I had visited Richford last Summer to first learn about the Main Street Mill redevelopment.

Planning ABC's illustration

H is for Historic Preservation

A look at the increasing breadth of the historic preservation movement as it evolved from the 1920s concern about preserving buildings associated with famous Americans, to today’s recognition of the link between historic preservation and economic development.

photo of electricians examining wiring

Building Codes Get Smarter

Building codes often make it financially infeasible to rehabilitate older — often historic — buildings by requiring rehab work to meet the same standards as new construction. This approach is changing as states and localities are adopting more flexible building codes.

Giles County, Virginia, Courthouse

Public Buildings Should Set the Standard

Until the last half of the 20th century, key public buildings were almost always designed and built to be focal points of their communities. Unfortunately, in recent decades the trend has been to build cheaply in peripheral locations.