What is the role of historic reconstruction within the field of historic preservation? In The Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties with Guidelines for Preserving, Rehabilitating, Restoring and Reconstructing Historic Buildings, the Secretary of the Interior "establishes limited opportunities to re-create a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure or object in all new materials."
Historic reconstructions were immensely popular during the 1950s, as were many other roadside attractions, but in 1966, the Special Committee on Historic Preservation of the U.S. Conference of Mayors published a report, With Heritage So Rich, labeling them as "...expensive life-size toys, manufactured for children of all ages who have forgotten how to read." On the other hand, many historians, preservationists and cultural resource managers defend the practice as a valuable way to provide tangible, three-dimensional, site-specific representations of significant moments in history.
Reconstructions in the Astoria area include the blockhouse at Fort Astoria Park (built in 1856), the 1852 U.S. Customs House in Uppertown (built in 1994), and Fort Clatsop at Lewis & Clark National Historical Park (1955 and 2006). The reconstruction of Fort Clatsop is of particularly interest in the discussion of historic reconstruction, as the "original" reconstruction (built in the 1950s) burned to the ground in 2004. The National Park Service was then tasked with the decision of how closely they would stick to the design of the "original" reconstruction when they chose to rebuild. Would they use new information gathered over the past 50 years to improve the authenticity of the site?
Join us at the LCPS office on the evening of Wednesday, September 19th at 6:30pm to participate in a friendly and lively discussion about the role of historic reconstructions in the field of historic preservation and interpretation.
LCPS Members will receive an email invitation with links to recommended reading on the topic at least one week prior to the discussion date. Topics in Preservation discussions will be a monthly event, taking place on the 3rd Wednesday of each month. October 17th discussion topic will be demolition of historic resources.