Preservation Forum: Preserving Place in a Rapidly Changing World

July 31, 2021 | Virtual

Thank you for all those that attended. Video recording from the day have been sent to registered attendees. The full agenda, including speakers and session descriptions, can be found below. 

Goucher’s M.A.H.P. program has undergone changes in its 25 years, yet it continues to endure and thrive. Echoing that theme, this summer, we are hosting the M.A.H.P. 25th Anniversary Forum, Preserving Place in a Rapidly Changing World.

As the places we value are changing, so we are transforming our goals for preservation of places. The historic preservation field is venturing onto varied new pathways. In our field’s recent discourse, we’ve exposed fault lines in how we’ve done our work and expanded the mandate to support the heritage well-being of more people in more ways.

At this Forum, the speakers—engaged practitioners—ask what if? and explore innovative answers. They step into the next phase of heritage work by:

  • Examining new practices based on non-tangible aspects of our work, emotional place attachment, losing and finding heritage, and supporting place-based identities;
  • Expanding the community that knows and keeps places; and
  • Incorporating and testing additional effective practices in response to rethinking and criticisms of what we have done.

With place as the nexus of their inquiries, Forum presenters will examine places we value in the context of traditional and emerging concepts and approaches in historic preservation during five thematically-framed sessions during the Forum day. The agenda includes time for further questioning, discussion and reflection after each session in the What if? What now? What for? and What could be? Salons. Several Fresh Voices short videos will extend the exploratory nature of the Forum.

The Forum recordings are now available. 


11 a.m. - Welcome

Melanie Lytle, M.A.H.P ’11
Academic Director, M.A. in Historic Preservation Program 

Melanie Lytle has an M.A. in Historic Preservation (Goucher College ‘11) and a B.A. in History (California State University, Sacramento). She has been a preservation consultant for 15 years, guiding her government agency clients through the complex U.S. regulatory framework to protect, support, and revitalize built environments and cultural landscapes. She's also worked on the nonprofit and advocacy side of the field as the former executive director of the non-profit Maryland Association of Historic District Commissions and for an architectural easement organization. Since 2015, she's served as a board member at Restoration Works International. Through her service with the nonprofit in Nepal, India, and the US, she's discovered how meaningful heritage sustainability and community engagement work can be when a historic place becomes the place from which communities can cultivate their values and community members can address local challenges and design strategic innovations to make positive social change.

11:10 a.m. - Session 1 | Facing the Loss of Place: Roles for Emotion in Heritage  

Emotional aspects of heritage and preservation range from grief and nostalgia to the joys of rediscovery and satisfaction of saving an important place. Place attachment refers to the powerful emotions about places that historic preservationists need to recognize and honor as they pay attention to the companion concept of sense of place and the emotional well-being places can support. Speakers explore the emotional weight of the actual loss of a place that was home, the experience of a slow loss of a treasured place, and the impending loss of anchors of small communities.

Memorializing the Demolition: Commemoration and Documentation through Jan Tichy’s Project Cabrini Green
Elsa Haarstad, M.A.H.P. ’20
Master of Arts in Art History Candidate, School of the Art Institute of Chicago

In 2011, Jan Tichy installed "Project Cabrini Green" throughout the last standing tower at the Cabrini-Green Homes public housing site in Chicago, Illinois. The installation created a visual presentation of a fully occupied multi-tenant structure that was destroyed along with the final tower over the course of a thirty-day demolition. Tichy’s work was vigil-like, an affective, ephemeral piece that explored the loss of many Chicagoans’ homes. I will explore how Tichy’s documentation of this demolition illustrates why the preservation field needs more robust ways of documenting loss of place.

Raised by architects—one working in affordable housing and the other in healthcare—Elsa has been consumed with the built environment since she was learning to walk in her parents’ small architecture studio. She has a passion for preservation that prioritizes dignified representations of people over buildings, challenging the ways preservation has failed people in the past.

Losing Heritage: Historic Place and the Affective Connection
Cabryn Gurdo, M.A.H.P. ’18,
Executive Director, Canal Society of New York State
Nearly fifty years after the Erie Canal Village (ECV) opened, its buildings are simultaneously protecting historically significant resources beneath them while they suffer demolition by neglect. By traditional standards, these relocated buildings have lost their integrity.  The ECV became a community center when downtown Rome lost its city center to the reconstruction of Fort Stanwix National Monument and devastating urban renewal. The community’s enduring emotional connection to the ECV has persisted despite the closure of the ECV to the public in 2015 and may be key to protecting this heritage place.

Cabryn’s transformational experience in historic preservation was attending an unusual event, a paranormal investigation, that reintroduced her to a place last visited in the 4th grade. That place became the subject of her thesis project and Cabryn continues to advocate for the preservation of the historic resources at the Erie Canal Village five years later.

It’s A Great Adaptive Use of the Historic Textile Mill but What About the Mill Village?
Robert Benedict, Ph.D., M.A.H.P. ’97
Professor of Practice, Department of City Planning and Real Estate Development, Clemson University
In recent years, the adaptive use of Upstate South Carolina’s textile mills has been a successful strategy to preserve endangered but distinctive mills as popular, mixed-use developments. Even so, the mill villages are at a pivotal point. Overlooked and often located just beyond a local overlay historic district, they have become vulnerable to gentrification and demolition for commercial purposes. However, they also represent an opportunity to provide affordable housing options. This presentation will explore these challenges and the opportunities to provide housing options with historic character.    

Robert positions his broad interests at the intersection of real estate, economics, and redevelopment. He has been applying his realization that the disciplines of real estate and historic preservation are not mutually exclusive to the adaptive use of textile mills and mill villages in Upstate South Carolina. 

12:10 p.m. - What If? Salon

Questioning, Discussion and Reflection 

12:30 p.m. - Session 2 | The Entwining of Place, Heritage Identity, Past and Present

With both the places and the cultures in which we are situated in flux, our individual and collective identities are variable as well. Mobility has often been the search for better futures. Consequently, understanding more about relocation, new homes, renewing what have become less supportive homes, and generational differences in terms of specific places adds seriousness of purpose to heritage work. Presenters investigate the notion of the heritage well-being of those who have experienced trauma, upheavals, great losses, and disconnection from their past.

The Eden Center: Reconciling Past and Future
Kim O’Connell, M.A.H.P. ’06
Journalist and Writing Faculty, Johns Hopkins University
This presentation explores how the Eden Center, a Vietnamese commercial center in northern Virginia, might be preserved in the future, even as the community wrestles with generational and political tensions about its identity. Opened in 1984, the Eden Center was an important site for refugees who arrived in the United States after the Vietnam War. Today, although still culturally significant to the Vietnamese diaspora, the center is showing signs of change. The community has an opportunity to consider how to preserve the Eden Center while allowing it to evolve.  

Working to capture refugee and immigrant experiences in the United States means that Kim has frequently confronted the question of how to preserve intangible heritage and the recent past. She believes that preservation is elastic enough to consider and commemorate immigrant spaces and cultural enclaves that have long since been repurposed or their communities dispersed.

A Change of Worlds: The Suquamish Tribe’s Cultural Resurgence and the Consequences of Reengagement with the Lands and Waters of the Salish Sea (Puget Sound)
Leonard Forsman, M.A.H.P ’04
Chairman, Suquamish Tribe
The Suquamish Tribe has experienced a cultural resurgence since the 1970s resulting from land claims research that inspired a tribal museum, Supreme Court recognition of treaty fishing rights that empowered tribal governments, and initiation of the canoe journey ceremonial complex.  As language is revitalized, primarily by younger linguists that are products of the resurgence, we need a new interpretation of the anthropological record left by elders a century ago.  The trending practice of land acknowledgment by governments, community organizations and event organizers is also necessitating a reorientation to our ancestral landscape.

Leonard's experiences as field archaeologist on a large excavation near Seattle within his Tribe’s traditional territory was academically, professionally and spiritually transformative as he experienced the intersection of philosophy of archaeological research, the power of tribal spirituality and tradition, and the political and economic forces of a major public works project.

The Journey to Onaway Pond—Preserving the Genealogy of Place
Shelley Stokes-Hammond, M.A.H.P ’14
Nowhere in the nation was Dr. King’s “dream” more emblematic than at a place called “Onaway Pond” in the Ludlow neighborhood of Shaker Heights, Ohio. In winter, black, white, Asian, Jewish, Catholic and Protestant children ice-skated together there after school and on weekends. Ludlow maintained equal access to homeownership and a good education. Two Ludlow residents, grandsons of former slaves, were elected as Cleveland’s Mayor and to Congress. This preservation journey explores how Onaway Pond is among the places that are the genealogy of a family’s passage from Slavery to Civil Rights.

For three decades, photographs Shelley had taken of her grandmother’s sharecropping home in Wrens, Georgia, were a mystery until she attended the graduate program for Historic Preservation at Goucher College where she was given the tools, guidance, and support to comprehend, reconcile, preserve, and write about the places of her family and others’ genealogical journeys.

1:30 p.m. - What For? Salon

Questioning, Discussion and Reflection 

2 p.m. - Session 3 | Moving from Engagement towards Collaboration: Expanding our Community that Knows and Keeps Places

We now use the term community engagement to refer to involving members of the public in projects and aspire to collaboration, rather than just the sharing of information. Nevertheless, members of the communities we serve do not feel seen and heard, and want more ownership of plans for places they value to have a sense of heritage well-being. Speakers address various scales of the broad umbrella of community engagement, from the key person who knows the story to those who have lived the story and on to the broader and complex publics in the geographic areas we serve.

Telling the Full Story and Finding the People Behind the Buildings
David Rotenstein, Ph.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Goucher College M.A.H.P. Program
The Aurora Club was a Pittsburgh nightclub and numbers gambling bank founded in the 1960s in a 1940s commercial building. It played key roles in the city’s musical and organized crime history. A 2020 blog post led its late owner’s daughter to ask if I wanted to know more about its history and the people who valued it. The club’s story and the historic preservation field’s lack of interest in it expose some fault lines in our goals to tell the full story about the communities where we work.

Displacement, erasure, and gentrification are inescapable in twenty-first century life. Moving into a gentrifying city where Black history and black bodies were being erased transformed David personally and professionally. His work now focuses on erasures and the roles that history and historic preservation play in gentrifying places.

Public Consultation and Preservation Planning for the Poe Homes Public Housing
Jackson Gilman-Forlini, M.A.H.P. ’18
Historic Preservation Officer, Baltimore City Department of General Services

From 2018-2020, Baltimore City produced a plan for the redevelopment of the 1939 Poe Homes, the first public housing project in Baltimore City and its relationship to the Edgar Allan Poe House, a National Historic Landmark. While very different architecturally, the public housing blocks and the Poe House are physically attached and share the same parcel of land, creating a site that exhibits a complex and sometimes conflicting sense of place. This case study in public consultation resulted in a plan that will attempt to balance multiple value-systems while serving the contemporary needs of the surrounding community.

Preserving municipal buildings in a cash-strapped city has pushed Jackson to regard compromise as the first essential ingredient for preservation practice. The second is crafting a really good justification narrative that relies on reasons beyond intangible historical significance. With these tools, he attempts to manage capital projects planning and facilities maintenance for sixteen historic buildings owned by the City of Baltimore, including five NHLs.

Rethinking Arlington’s Historic Preservation Master Plan in the Age of COVID-19
Cynthia Liccese-Torres, M.A.H.P. ’03
Manager, Arlington County, VA’s Historic Preservation Program
Lorin Farris, M.A.H.P ’12
Principal Preservation Planner, Arlington County, VA’s Historic Preservation Program
Senior-level Historic Preservation staff will discuss the current plans to update Arlington County, Virginia’s Historic Preservation Master Plan, first adopted in 2006. We will highlight some potential new priority areas for the master plan and how we have had to adapt our community engagement strategy during the pandemic era. Two main goals of our master plan update are to consider new preservation tools and incentives that have proven successful in other jurisdictions in Virginia, as well as how to emphasize more inclusive story-telling and personal connections to Arlington’s heritage.

Cynthia is striving to broaden the focus of historic preservation in Arlington beyond just architecture and historic buildings by exploring cultural history, personal stories and connections, and celebrating our diversity.

Lorin is focused on strengthening the preservation tools of Arlington’s Historic Preservation Program, and providing a different perspective on historic preservation as a community benefit that can work side-by-side with other comprehensive goals within local government, such as economic development, sustainability, and affordable housing.

3 p.m. - What Now? Salon

Questioning, Discussion and Reflection

3:30 p.m. - Session 4 | Exploring Alternative Futures for the Preservation of Place  

We speak about developing alternative futures that signal hope that our work will be different and more effective than what we have done in the past. Alternative futures for tending to the places we value no doubt will be plural, made within and outside of our existing regulatory frameworks, and will proceed at different paces and in different directions. Presenters will touch on a range of ways to shape alternative futures as they provide signposts for the various paths to place keeping in the future.

Decolonizing Historic Preservation
Denice Dressel, M.A.H.P ’17
Heritage Resources Planner, Fairfax County, VA
Nicole Brannan, M.A.H.P. ’15
Cultural Resources Specialist
The National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA) created the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the systems that dominate the preservation field. It has become clear that preservation practices in the United States have favored a white, male perspective, leaving resources from other communities vulnerable.

This presentation will discuss the challenges local preservationists face working within a system that does not account for what is significant to all communities, and how the NRHP’s notion of integrity can create an almost impenetrable wall to listing BIPOC resources on the Register.

Denice realizes that while the built environment is the primary concern of preservationists, it is centering people and their narratives in the built environment which brings meaning to spaces and creates a sense of place.

Nicole is driven by pushing for unseen resources to be recognized and given the same due as what has been traditionally preserved in the U.S. to help people see the history that surrounds them every day.

The National Preservation Act Was Passed in 1966: No, We’re Not Done Yet
Bethany Gladhill, M.A.H.P. ’01
Historic Preservation Consultant
Preservation has become a victim of its own success, inadvertently painting it an elitist field concerned with only high-end places. This presentation will address the challenge — and importance — of saving everyday history. It will touch on issues with preserving these places, ranging from a lack of source materials to development threats and gentrification, and offer some possible solutions through placemaking, interpretation, and community involvement. It will also ask just whose stories are told, and how we can broaden that scope.

Bethany finds the question that originally brought her to the preservation field over 20 years ago — how do we keep from losing our everyday history? remains unsolved. She wonders if preservation has been almost too successful in preserving the highest-end places as she explores how we ensure that preservation presents a more representative and inclusive past.

Thinking Again…Preservation of Place and Change
Mindy Gulden Crawford, M.A.H.P. ’98
Executive Director, Preservation Pennsylvania
Poised on the verge of radical changes in the historic preservation movement, we must examine some long-held beliefs about our work and doing business as usual. In Think Again: The Power of Knowing What You Don’t Know, Adam Grant challenges us to re-evaluate our assumptions, like scientists testing hypotheses. Current events and hard truths about how we preserve a place suggest that the preservation movement might be broken. This presentation begins to answer the important questions: What have we learned since 1966 and can we do better by thinking again?

An accidental historian, Mindy has a natural curiosity about the hidden stories of historic places.  She believes that feeling too confident makes you stop challenging yourself and inevitably leads to you to realize what you don’t know. Take the chance every day to question and learn something. That is the only way we can thrive in a rapidly changing world.  

Considering History, Heritage, and Health with Systems Thinking
Bryan D. Orthel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Indiana University Bloomington
Adjunct Faculty, Goucher College M.A.H.P. program
The choices individuals make to protect tangible and intangible things have effects—positive and negative—on individual and public health. The relationships between history, heritage, and health (HHH) are incompletely examined. As heritage professionals begin to explore, a model of the HHH relationships can be an important guide. This presentation offers a systems-thinking based model for visualizing the relationship of history, heritage, and public health.

Heritage and preservation are complex, so Bryan looks for interdisciplinary links between how and why we preserve and the world around us.  This requires going outside preservation--and then coming back.  This route is rich in possibility and challenges what we think we know.

New Timelines, New Practices for Alternative Futures
Betsy Bradley, Ph.D.
Adjunct Faculty, Goucher College M.A.H.P. program

Based on the premise that we do not have intellectually- or politically-acceptable frameworks in which to negotiate when existing programs are no longer effective, this presentation argues that we need new timelines and practices to effectively “place keep.” It points to our incomplete set of negotiations in the preservation field and the need to move on from “in perpetuity” thinking. The presentation will explore the proposition for an “impermanent” status for some historic properties within a realistic futurist stance.

Working in a legacy city prompted Betsy to rethink much of traditional historic preservation theory and practice. She in exploring new premises and processes for taking historic places into the future and let them go. Futurist methods of analysis and expanding the use of sense of place and cultural landscapes as ways of knowing places are dominant in her current work. 

5:10 p.m. - What Could Be? Salon

Questioning, Discussion and Reflection

5:40 p.m. - Session 5 | Storytelling with Place

Tobacco Barn/Tobacco Text: Preserving African American Farmways in Jim Crow Virginia
Rob Jacoby, M.A.H.P. ’11
Registered Professional Archaeologist, Tetra Tech, Inc.

From the colonial period to the twentieth century, African Americans had played a vital if unheralded role in Virginia’s tobacco culture. With the close of the Jim Crow era in the 1960s so too did African American participation in tobacco farming come to a virtual halt. Data recovered from archaeological surveys and archival searches are encoded with rich stories of the experiences and expertise in tobacco production by African Americans in the southern Piedmont of Virginia.

Rob is a long-time member and officer of his local historical society and has conducted numerous oral histories of area residents to share their stories and experiences with the community.

6 p.m. Concluding Remarks

Melanie Lytle, M.A.H.P ’11
Academic Director, M.A. in Historic Preservation Program