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Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory

Case Studies in Historic Preservation

Daniel Bluestone (Author, University of Virginia)

Overview | Contents

Winner of the Society of Architectural Historians' 2013 Antionette Forrester Downing Book Award, this provocative analysis of historic preservation's past and future will transform contemporary understanding of the movement.

Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory: Case Studies in Historic Preservation explores historically and critically the historic preservation movement in the United States. Analyzing ten extraordinary places, this provocative analysis of historic preservation’s past and future will transform contemporary understanding of the movement, examining assumptions about why history, heritage, and place should matter. It ranges broadly from a discussion of the commemoration of place in the Marquis de Lafayette’s triumphal tour of the United States in 1824–25 to speculation about the cultural and political import of interpreting history on EPA Superfund toxic waste sites. 

Thinking critically about preservation requires also thinking critically about its opposite: destruction. The book treats the movement to conserve the Hudson River Palisades from destruction at the hands of trap rock quarrymen as well as the effort to save Dutch-American homesteads that stood in the path of development in Brooklyn. It explores the intersection between race, culture, and preservation in the 1940s effort of African Americans to preserve the Mecca Flats in Chicago, an apartment building that was the subject of popular blues music and that was threatened by Mies van der Rohe’s designs for the Illinois Institute of Technology. 

Focusing on the relationship among tradition, preservation, and modern design, Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory explores the making of Eero Saarinen’s Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Arch on the historic Mississippi riverfront in St. Louis as well as the tension between tradition and modern design at Thomas Jefferson’s University of Virginia, declared a World Heritage site in 1987. Engaging early efforts to build an economy on preservation and heritage tourism, the book also looks at the creation of Virginia’s historic highway marker program in the 1920s.

Book Details

  • Hardcover
  • December 2010
  • ISBN 978-0-393-73318-1
  • 8.4 × 11.4 in / 304 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“This is a superb work of historical craft: each chapter is a jewel, worthy of breakout reading for courses in architectural history, urban studies, landscape, and preservation. . . . It will rapidly become required reading for students and scholars of historical preservation, public culture, and collective memory.” — Winterthur Portfolio

“This volume represents historical scholarship at its brilliant and useful best. . . . For anyone with an interest in preservation, whether scholarly or professional or personal, Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory is essential reading. . . . [I]t should also inspire the next generation of historians to apply their critical faculties to similar projects and thereby reveal the cultural politics of American landscapes and the part that preservation has played and continues to play.” — Buildings & Landscapes: Journal of the Vernacular Architecture Forum

“[A] remarkably rich collection of essays by one of the leaders in the field, one who has trained dozens of young scholars and practitioners and has himself undertaken model preservation projects . . . . Long-awaited by scholars in the field, the book will serve as a core text for the next generation of preservationists.” — Journal of the Society of Architectural Historians (JSAH)

Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory offers a wide-ranging and subtle investigation of landscapes and culture over time. This wonderful book includes ten essays ranging from ‘Captured by Context,’ on traditional and modernist architecture at Jefferson’s University of Virginia campus, to ‘Chicago’s Mecca Flat Blues,’ on a revered African American landmark in Chicago. All provide essential reading for historians, architects, planners, and preservationists.” — Dolores Hayden, Yale University

“The breadth of this work will provide practitioners and students with a broad perspective from which to examine current preservation decisions…This scholarly work is highly recommended for all academic libraries and other library collections with a focus on historic preservation.” — ARLIS/NA Reviews

“Given its broad range, Daniel Bluestone’s Buildings, Landscapes, and Memory: Case Studies in Historic Preservation is too modestly titled. Its 10 in-depth studies (the shortest is 15 pages) deal with events, processes, and places that in some cases are well outside the usual preservation narrative…. Almost every page of this book makes you think.” — Planning Magazine

“I strongly recommend this excellent, thorough and unconventional book.” — RIBA Journal

“[T]horough and engaging…. [O]ffers an expansive look into the development of American historic preservation…. [I]n-depth and well-written…” — Museum Magazine

“A great strength of Bluestone’s account is its ability to position the particulars of individual case studies within the larger discourse of historic preservation, and to make this relevant for a broad audience. This audience, for example, might include those interested in history, urban planning, architectural history, and landscape urbanism. One is left with a great appreciation of the way in which historic preservation, in all of its complexities, has contributed to the shaping of modern America and how the field might engage with the challenges facing the nation’s postindustrial landscape. . . .[T]houghtfully illustrated throughout.” — Traditional Dwellings and Settlements Review

“While students and professionals in the preservation field will particularly appreciate this volume, its compelling narratives, facile prose, and elegant production should appeal to many others with an interest in the American past…. Highly recommended.” — CHOICE

“Daniel Bluestone breaks significant new ground in this sweeping chronicle of historic preservation in the United States. The breadth of his coverage challenges us to think anew about practices in the field today. Through ten case studies, he introduces a range of issues and outlooks that will likely spark debate. The book sets a new standard for scholarship in this realm. It is essential reading for both seasoned practitioners and students entering the preservation field.” — Richard Longstreth, George Washington University

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