Thursday, May 28, 2009

Interesting Historical Dilemma

Historic Preservation has existed for several decades now nationally, and for a couple of decades locally. The original intent of historic preservation was to help protect and preserve those pristine homes and structures, and in some cases districts of our past architecture that made our communities unique, and/or that had a direction connection to important historical people. Nationally, the guidelines are that any structure (or landscape for that matter) that is at least 50 years old is eligible for designation, assuming it meets other criteria as well, such as being more or less intact, and not substantially altered. This has served us well.

However, now we have an interesting time coming up, and one that will receive much debate. In the past, prior to the 1950's, for the most part, homes and buildings were pretty unique. If builders built more than one of a particular floor plan, there usually wern't more than a dozen or so, and usually far fewer. Now though, the tract homes of the 50's are technically eligble for historical designation. Locally, this hasn't been an issue, because our collection of 50's homes is not huge, and has been consentrated in a few areas, with most of the floor plans fairly unique.

Now though, over the next decade the tract homes of the 1960's will be coming up for eligibility, then the 70's and so on. Now we will have homes eligible that not only do we have hundreds of them locally, but there are thousands nationally as builders built pretty much the exact same floor plan in communities across the country. For example, the brick ranch home pictured here, was built in Fort Collins in a neighborhood called South College Heights where there are dozens of similar homes. The same home was built in Greeley, in Panorama in Grand Junction, and hundreds in the Denver area.

Which brings me to the question of now what? Do we really want to designate and preserve entire tracts of identical homes? Not only locally, but nationally. Do we find a few examples in each community to protect? And if so, how do we figure this out? I don't have the answers as of now, nor have I formed a strong opinion on this yet. However, the Fort Collins Landmark Preservation Commission is starting a project to document the various kinds of home architecture prevalent in Fort Collins, so I volunteered to research and document homes from the 1960's to current. This will be some interesting research, and will share it with my readers.

1 comment:

lostfortcollins said...

I'm looking forward to seeing what you find out.