What is historic preservation? : an examination historic preservation in Rural Main Street Iowa communities

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Wagler, Michael
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What is historic preservation? This seemingly simple question can be very hard to answer. While most all have a general understanding of historic preservation, few understand where it has been, where it is going and what historic preservation means in and to a community and its citizens. Thanks to organizations like the National Trust for Historic Preservation and its Main Street program, historic preservation has now moved into the limelight of many communities and their planning efforts which is helping to create a more widespread understanding of the discipline. In 1985, the Iowa legislature adopted the National Trust's Main Street Center's Four Point Approach® with the goal to preserve the history and integrity of Main Street commercial districts throughout the state by improving their economic conditions. This study examines the use of historic preservation in participating Rural Main Street Iowa communities (less than 5,000 in population) and localizes the study of historic preservation in order to create a more common understanding of its use, emphasis and meaning to rural Iowa communities. The purpose of this research was to define historic preservation by exploring the activities, involvements, local community makeup and goals of historic preservation within the Rural Main Street Iowa program. Through this investigation of local historic preservation uses and emphasis, factors that affect the use and success of historic preservation at the local level were also drawn from data gathered during the two phases of research. This research incorporated the use of a two-phase, sequential mixed methods approach which began with the collection of statistical, quantitative data from a sample of all Rural Main Street Iowa communities and was followed by a series of case studies which collected a more qualitative set of data. The results of this study illustrate the diverse, multi-disciplinary nature of historic preservation while providing evidence to what historic preservation means and how it is used in the rural Iowa setting. In addition, the researcher provides recommendations to help ensure the future success of local historic preservation activities in rural Iowa.

Sun Jan 01 00:00:00 UTC 2006