on Awarding

There are some aspects of preservation that often get overlooked. In considering the Preservation Awards this year at the Trust, we agreed to hand out accolades to accurate period restorations, drastic salvages from the brink of despair and innovative adaptive use of existing historic spaces—but of the simple rehabilitation, involving run-of-the-mill tech upgrades and a new paint job, we were at a loss of what to do. It was admitted among the committee members that certainly this kind of “preservation action” is one of the easiest, but also the most important and worthy, somehow, of recognition. Right? I mean, they didn’t tear the building down, can you give out a “thank God you didn’t demo” award? Perhaps it was only monetary, perhaps they WOULD have demoed, or at least changed the carpet, if they’d had the money. However, in the circumstances we were considering for awards that day, and in many other instances, I think people really do want to maintain the building. Lack of funds often means a more accurate rehabilitation, if anything at least the process moves slower which means less drastic overhauling of material. You don’t have the money to replace those windows with vinyl? darn! you’ll have to repair instead!

But honestly, is it fair that only those projects that bring out the big guns will get the recognition of an award? and then, how would we acknowledge those who have been doing “a really good job”? if half the purpose of the awards are encouragement and acknowledgement within a community, then I think we need a way to bring attention to the preservation that’s accomplished by doing relatively little. It shows that it’s the philosophy that matters, not the money. right?

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