Title: Historic Preservation
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Permanent Link: http://ufdc.ufl.edu/UF00103209/00001
 Material Information
Title: Historic Preservation
Physical Description: Serial
Language: English
Creator: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Publisher: National Trust for Historic Preservation
Place of Publication: Washington, DC
Publication Date: April-June 1976
 Record Information
Bibliographic ID: UF00103209
Volume ID: VID00001
Source Institution: University of Florida
Holding Location: University of Florida
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Historic


Preservation

April-June


1976


2 Preservation Features: Bicentennial Reverberations
4 Nantucket: Island in Time, Edouard A. Stackpole
10 What Style Is It?, John Poppeliers, S. Allen Chambers and Nancy B. Schwartz
20 New Jersey: Revolution's Iron Backbone, John T. Cunningham
24 Vesuvius Furnace Plantation, Elizabeth Simpson Smith
28 Bicentennial Outlook: The Monumental Friendship of Jefferson and Adams,
Wendell D. Garrett
36 Argonauts Become Americans: The Chinese, Thomas W. Chinn
40 A Preservation Ideal, Robert M. Utley
45 Books
The Bicentennial Guide to the American Revolution and The Bicentennial Book,
1975-197o, reviewed by ]. Timberlake Gibson
47 Letters


Published by the
National Trust for Historic Preservation
740-748 Jackson Place, N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20006

Chairman of the Board, Carlisle H. Humelsine
President, James Biddle
Executive Vice President, Lawson B. Knott, Jr.

Preservation Press
Vice President and Editor: Terry B. Morton
Director of Programs: Lee Ann Kinzer
Associate Editor: Wendy J. Adler
Editorial Assistant: Elaine A. Brousseau

Designed by Red Truck Farm
Printed by The John D. Lucas
Printing Company, Baltimore, Md.


Cover: Silhouette portraits (1789) by Millette of
Thomas Jefferson (left) and John Adams (right),
great friends and Founding Fathers, are framed by
detail of the 1836 "Great Star" American Flag flown
by a Long Island sea captain. An article on Adams
and Jefferson begins on page 28.
(Silhouettes in The Metropolitan Museum of Art,
New York City, Bequest of Mary Martin, 1938;
flag photograph courtesy The Huntington Historical
Society, Huntington, N.Y., photo by Mastai)

The inside covers show a detail of the Royal
Worcester Independence 1976 plate, a Bicentennial
reproduction of the Independence 1776 plate
designed when the eagle was first being used as
the American national emblem and believed to
have been commissioned by Benjamin Franklin.
The actual plates are white with blue, maroon,
green and gold. The Independence 1776 plate is in
the Dyson Perrins Museum, Worcester, England.
Independence 1976 plates, produced in a limited
issue sequentially numbered, are available at
Cliveden and the National Trust Preservation
Bookstore for $150; $135 for National Trust
members. (Courtesy Royal Worcester Porcelain
Company)








Canyon De Chelly National
Monument (c. 300-1400),
Chinle, Ariz., prehistoric
Indian dwellings containing
archaeological remains that
have been preserved by the
arid climate. (National Park
Service, George Grant)


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ous practical reasons, we must compromise with nature and
cover with sod what strict historical accuracy would dictate to
be exposed raw earth.
For preservation of the historic scene, a historic place and its
environment should be kept as free as possible of inharmonious
modern developments. Obviously, since we live in a modern
world, this is an ideal that must be compromised with other
needs. Independence Hall, Bunker Hill and Sutter's Fort are now
in the midst of modern cities and must survive within these
surroundings. Even in more insulated situations, the modern
world will inevitably intrude, if only in the form of the public
and the facilities for their accommodation. But we should aim
always to minimize the effect of the intrusion and to harmonize
modern facilities with the historic ambiance.
Most associative monuments in the United States have inter-
pretive programs of one kind or another. A program may sim-
ply be a park official talking formally or informally to visitors,
or it may include a museum, audiovisual presentation, publica-
tions, markers, labels and signs. Although historic resources
may be eloquent in themselves, sensitively planned and carried
out interpretation can greatly enhance the visitor's understand-
ing and appreciation of the resources and the intangible values
they represent.
Finally, preservationists must acknowledge a high obligation
to be honest and accurate in all that we do. This means re-
search. Master plans for park development and management


must be based on knowledge of the location and significance of
park resources. Restoration projects must summon sufficient
historical, architectural and archaeological data to permit maxi-
mum accuracy and minimum conjecture. Management plans for
natural resources cannot properly be formulated without docu-
mented historic ground cover maps. And interpretation not
buttressed by the best professional thought and study is simply
dishonest to the public. Any park should be able to demonstrate
the accuracy of its preservation, restoration and interpretation.
Such is the theory. Practice increasingly diverges from theory.
Planners and administrators of parks, be the parks federal, state,
local or private, seem driven by certain pressures, or "urges,"
to do things that depart from the ideal. These urges, which are
usually subconscious, can be identified under four major head-
ings.
First is the urge not to fool with Mother Nature. This is the
naturalist syndrome and it is most prevalent in agencies that
manage both natural and historical parks. Officials afflicted by
this urge usually come from backgrounds in natural park ad-
ministration and tend to equate historic resources with old build-
ings. They have great difficulty seeing the trees and bushes and
grass and rocks as historic too. Thus they rarely can bring
themselves to tamper with what God hath wrought, even though
in historical parks the goal is to display what man hath
wrought-and the setting in which he wrought it. We are in-
terested not so much in how Mother Nature, left to her own
43


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devices, would manage these resources as in how they looked
at a particular time in history. Natural resources on historic
sites must be regarded as historic resources and managed for
our purposes rather than Mother Nature's.
Next is the urge to beautify. The cosmetic syndrome is the
opposite of the Mother Nature syndrome. It is found among
people who see history not as it was but as they would like for
it to have been. The results can be observed in lavishly fur-
nished residences of notables who would have known such sur-
roundings only in their private fantasies, in impeccably mani-
cured grounds and gardens that in their heyday were quite un-
kempt if tended at all, in battlefields that look like the creations
of amply funded and hyperactive landscape architects and in
well-scrubbed, brightly painted historic communities that re-
semble sets of Hollywood musicals more than they do the dirty,
smelly, often seedy aspects of historical reality. The romanti-
cizers must be rigorously opposed, and the injunction to respect
truth in all that we do must be scrupulously honored.
Third is the urge to develop. This is the self-glorification syn-
drome. It is characterized by a compulsion, however subcon-
scious, to erect monuments to ourselves rather than to enhance
the monuments that have been entrusted to our care. It is
natural to want to create something for which one will be re-
membered by posterity, but in a historical park we are posterity
and it is another generation's work that we are remembering.
Thus, the first question to ask is not where to place the visitor
center but whether one is needed at all. If it is, the question
then becomes how to situate and design it so as to interfere
least with the park's historic resources. The same is true of
roads, parking lots, lodging and maintenance facilities and
other visitor accommodations. Visitors come to see the works
of the past, not the works of today. In parks the best modern
works are those that compete the least with the historic attrac-
tions. It might almost be said that the more unmemorable the
modern work, the more successful it is as a park development.
The final urge, to tell a story, is another dimension of the
self-glorification syndrome. It is characterized by dramatic pre-
sentations in which flashy gimmickry takes precedence over
substance and by publications, museums and audiovisual pro-
ductions in which design overwhelms content. The success of
interpretive programs in the United States has led us too fre-
quently to view interpretation as an end in itself, to forget that
it is the servant and not the master of the resource, that indeed
it finds its very justification in the resource. Our purpose is not
simply to tell a story. That may be done anywhere by anyone.
Rather our purpose is to focus directly on the resource and to
say what it cannot-bearing in mind that it can say much
more than we are prone to suppose-in order that visitors may
Robert M. Utley is assistant director for park historic preserva-
tion at the U.S. Department of the Interior, National Park Ser-
vice. His article is adapted, by permission, from a paper pre-
sented at the 1975 annual meeting of the American Association
for State and Local History.
44 HISTORIC PRESERVATION


understand and appreciate the resource and the intangible val-
ues it represents. Interpretation that goes beyond this purpose
is actually subversive, for it competes with the resource itself.
The urge to tell a story has spawned two secondary, closely
related urges. One is the urge to recreate history. This results
in what is popularly known as living history. Site managers all
over the country are vying to see who can put together the most
spectacular, and hence presumably the most "living," produc-
tion. Costumed performers are firing muskets and cannon, dip-
ping candles, forging horseshoes and cooking every variety of
food by every variety of means known to our forebears. Some
of these programs are entirely appropriate. Many are not. Park
interpretation should assist visitors in gaining certain percep-
tions, understandings and appreciations of the park's resources.
Living history programs that sharpen such perceptions are ap-
propriate; those that blur them are inappropriate. Inappropriate
living history, moreover, is not merely harmless diversion. The
more "living" it is, the more likely it is to give visitors the
strongest impression, and memory, of their park experience. Thus
a program that is not unusually supportive of key interpretive
objectives may be unusually distractive. It is of urgent im-
portance that park officials critically examine the appropriate-
ness of their living history programs.
The other secondary and related urge is the urge to recon-
struct. As if preservation of the real thing were not difficult
enough, we try to recreate that which has vanished and even
(if such is possible) that which never existed at all. The former
is dubious at best in these days of skyrocketing costs and
austere budgets, but the latter is indefensible. Typical or sug-
gestive representations of a general class of structures such as
barns or log cabins or whole farms or villages are desired
chiefly as stage settings for living history programs. There are
three objections to these counterfeits. First, they purport to be
accurate portrayals of past architecture but in fact almost never
are. Second, no matter how often told, visitors still regard them
as the genuine articles. And third, in a historical park, where
nothing resembling them ever existed, they are offensive intru-
sions on the genuine historic setting.
Americans are blessed with several thousand historic places
that are windows on their past. We have evolved fairly well-
articulated principles and practices for their proper care. On
balance, our record of stewardship is not one for which we
need apologize. But we do need to be aware of the dangers of
the four "urges" that are eroding the ideal. We must strive to
honor the right of generations yet unborn to receive the tan-
gible evidences of their heritage in unimpaired condition.


Minute Man National Historical Park, Concord, Mass.,
where compromise with Mother Nature is reached. This and
other Revolutionary War sites are scheduled stops in
Bicentennial guidebooks such as those reviewed opposite.
(National Park Service)




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