What is Historic Preservation?
What is Historic Preservation?
Historic preservation is a conversation with our past about our future. It is a way for a community to examine and learn from its history, develop new understandings to share with the future, and provide the same opportunity to future generations. By preserving its built environment, a community enhances its identity and character. In doing so, it also protects a homeowner's property investments by ensuring that their neighbor's properties will be held to the same standards as theirs. Historic Preservation is done through:
- Designating historic sites for protection: includes federal, state, and privately owned properties
- Documentation: the written, photographic, technical, and oral recording and retelling of historic stories
- Physical Preservation: includes stabilization (protecting as is), rehabilitation (adding to buildings), restoration (repairing), and reconstruction (rebuilding as it once was).
How did Historic Preservation in Lynchburg start?
The City of Lynchburg initially enacted historic district legislation within its overall zoning ordinance in 1976, and established the Board of Historic & Architectural Review, now the Historic Preservation Commission, to monitor exterior changes to existing buildings, new construction, and demolition within historic districts.
The purpose of this historic zoning legislation was to:
- Promote the health, happiness, and well-being of the public through the creation of historic districts for the protection and preservation of historic buildings, structures, places, archaeological sites, and areas of historic interest
- Stabilize and improve property values
- Stimulate the development and maintenance of appropriate settings and environment for historic buildings and structures
- Encourage new buildings and developments that will be architecturally compatible with existing historic buildings and structures
- Prevent the encroachment of additions or new buildings and structures that are architecturally incongruous within the environs of the historic districts
- Advance local historic preservation efforts and encourage the identification and nomination of qualified historic properties and districts to the National Register of Historic Places and the Virginia Landmarks Register.
To further the goals of historic preservation, Lynchburg adopted and printed “Commercial Historic Districts Design Guidelines: Downtown Lynchburg,” in 1986. These design guidelines contained recommendations for rehabilitation and new construction in two state and national designated districts, Downtown and Lower Basin. Both the guidelines included within the previous manual and this revised edition are currently voluntary: there are no historic overlays in Downtown which require review by the City’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC).
What does Historic Preservation in Lynchburg look like today?
Today, the community is working together to protect and maintain Lynchburg’s downtown historic buildings as a part of the City of Lynchburg Comprehensive Plan 2013-2030. The Plan, which is built upon multiple charrettes and community involvement, stresses the need to “ensure that future development, redevelopment, and public improvements complement the scale and character, and respect the integrity of, designated historic districts and areas potentially eligible for designation.” The plan further states that “Demolition of historic buildings and erection of suburban style, low-density/intensity development is inappropriate.” Property owners are encouraged to follow the recommendations included within this manual to ensure their land is the most valuable it can be and contributes to their neighborhood’s charm. The revised design guidelines manual was completed following extensive discussions and meetings with the property owners, HPC, City Staff, and representatives of the Virginia Department of Historic Resources.
Why Preserve? Benefits of Historic Preservation:
Historic Preservation Promotes Quality of Life
- More than any other man-made element, historic buildings differentiate one community from all others. It helps make Lynchburg, Lynchburg!
- Many quality of life activities - museums, theaters, and libraries - are located in historic buildings and downtown areas.
- The quality of historic buildings and the quality of their preservation says much about a community's self-image. A community's commitment to itself is a prerequisite for nearly all quality-of-life elements.
- Any community can duplicate another's water lines, industrial parks, or tax rates. No community can duplicate another's historic resources.
Historic Buildings May Last Longer Than New Ones
Historic Preservation Support's Taxpayers' Investments
Historic Preservation Creates Jobs
Historic Preservation Increases Property Values
Tourism and Tax Credits
Examples of Historic Preservation in the United States
Fell's Point, Baltimore - Old City, Philadelphia - Historic Charleston