A Year of Celebrations

2016 is a year of celebrations. For those of us in the preservation world, we’re celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. On a federal level, it is also the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service. Closer to home, we’re celebrating Indiana’s Bicentennial in 2016. Needless to say, this year is going to be one, year-long celebration of heritage.

For me, the 50th Anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) is the one celebration I am most passionate about. As a preservation professional, I participate in the work of the NHPA on almost a daily basis. The very reason I entered the preservation field is located in the preamble of the Act itself:

(b) The Congress finds and declares that—
(1) the spirit and direction of the Nation are founded upon and reflected in its historic heritage;
(2) the historical and cultural foundations of the Nation should be preserved as a living part of our community life and development in order to give a sense of orientation to the American people;
(3) historic properties significant to the Nation’s heritage are being lost or substantially altered, often inadvertently, with increasing frequency;
(4) the preservation of this irreplaceable heritage is in the public interest so that its vital legacy of cultural, educational, aesthetic, inspirational, economic, and energy benefits will be maintained and enriched for future generations of Americans;

Why is it important to celebrate these milestones? Specifically as it relates to the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, it is an opportunity to pause and reflect on what has been accomplished and ask “Where do we go from here?” We’ve seen some great things written in reflection of this moment, including Stephanie Meeks’ note on the celebration ahead, Max Page’s discussion in Architecture Boston, and this great discussion on the fifty-year rule by Carroll West.

To celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the NHPA, there is an official agenda and team developing programming and forwarding initiatives named Preservation50. I have been fortunate to serve on one of the working groups for this celebration (photography contest, shocker, I know!) and looking forward to seeing all the programs unfold.

Related, the National Park Service Historic Preservation Services are highlighting the 50th Anniversary of the NHPA through a #50for50 social media campaign. Each week, over the course of the year, they’ll highlight a state and the use of the NHPA’s programs in each state. This week just happens to be Indiana! Stay tuned for my post tomorrow – I’ll highlight a few of my favorite Indiana sites and projects that showcase the NHPA’s use in our state.

As for Indiana’s bicentennial, so many groups and individuals I work with are planning projects and events to celebrate. I’m not directly involved in any one specific project, but it is exciting in some ways to see an entire state rally around something related to history. The bicentennial website even has a “Hoosier History Highlights” page, which has Indiana history items for almost every single day! For February 9th:

February 9, 1866
George Ade is born in Kentland, Indiana.  He attends Purdue University and becomes a popular humorist and playwright.   Fables in Slang becomes one of his most popular works.

I’m looking forward to this year of celebrations. I’m hoping we can use these celebrations in the preservation community as a way to rally around our heritage and move it forward in new and exciting ways.

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