Heritage partnerships : national designation, regional promotion and the role of local preservation organizations
Author(s)Morton, Elizabeth, Ph. D. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
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In this dissertation, I examine the impact of one important type of "heritage partnership," the National Heritage Areas (NHA) program, on historic preservation activities at the grassroots level. NHAs, often termed the "future of our National Parks," have been administered by the National Park Service since the mid-1980s. These projects aim to mobilize local initiatives around a common set of distinct community assets and foster public-private partnerships addressing preservation and development issues on a regional scale. The two case studies I use to explore this issue are the Blackstone River Valley National Heritage Corridor and the Southwestern Pennsylvania Heritage Preservation Commission (or "Path of Progress"). My analysis focuses on the relationship between two key players: the federal government and local preservation organizations (LPOs). I use the cases to test two hypotheses: 1) By valorizing local resources, national designation will benefit the organized preservation movement; and 2) By crafting and promoting a distinct regional heritage, these projects will mobilize grassroots institutions to work together.(cont.) To achieve the objectives of local engagement and partnerships, NHAs try to in effect create two new resources, both reliant on grassroots actors: a transformed sense of regional identity and a regional infrastructure committed to its stewardship. My research shows that while some organizations have benefited from these projects in important ways, the transition to this more holistic outlook is often problematic for LPOs since it runs counter to fundamental assumptions about the role of heritage and community-based initiatives. While this dissertation includes an examination and comparison of two case studies, it also addresses much larger concerns regarding the nature of the partnership between federal and local actors in the United States. A historical and theoretical review highlights serious unresolved tensions about the role that the NPS is able to play in meeting the many demands of local advocates; it also brings to light the agency's inability to develop criteria for what merits attention in the face of political pressure, the historic lack of a comprehensive national preservation policy, and the preservation field's ever broadening agenda.
Thesis (Ph. D.)--Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning, 2006.Includes bibliographical references (p. -221).
DepartmentMassachusetts Institute of Technology. Dept. of Urban Studies and Planning.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Urban Studies and Planning.