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This blog is a place for dialogue on issues and actions relating to Boston's unique built environment and the preservation and continuing evolution of historic resources within it. My goal, as the Executive Director of the Boston Preservation Alliance, is to post timely, relevant and thought-provoking intelligence, ideas, and insights that will engage conversations, inform our actions, and broaden perspectives on preservation.

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Greg Galer, Executive Director, Boston Preservation Alliance

GREG GALER
Executive Director

AllianceViews Blog

The Power of Landmarking

July 31st, 2013  |  Posted by: Greg Galer

To formally declare a building a Boston Landmark or a contributing element of a Landmark District is the most powerful tool we have in preservation.  Many people don’t realize that a designation on the local level (local landmark, local historic district, etc.) is in fact the mostpowerful tool at our disposal to protect historic buildings. These local designations are more powerful than listing on the National Register of Historic Places (which provides no regulatory control or protection for an historic resource except under very specific situations) or even a building declared a National Landmark, which provides little more protection than the National Register.

The threshold, process, and rules for creating such a local landmark vary.  In Boston the process is controlled by the Boston Landmarks Commission (BLC), and information on the process can be found here:  http://www.cityofboston.gov/landmarks/process.asp .   The Alliance works closely with the BLC on many issues, and we frequently submit formal comment and testify at their meetings.

A recent blog posting provides an interesting discussion regarding landmarking in New York City which certainly applies to Boston as well.  We certainly can’t nor do we want to landmark the whole city and hamper the city’s ability to develop and evolve.  But we are far from a point where we’ve locked the city up with Landmarks.  According to the BLC web site we have only 87 Landmark properties and 10 districts (including Beacon Hill and Back Bay) in the entire city and all its neighborhoods.  I believe we need to utilize this process to protect more important resources, but others will inevitably disagree.

Take a look at this thoughtful piece about landmarking and the evolution of property costs and wealth distribution in cities.  See what you think!

http://www.worldarchitecture.org/blog-links/pgvve/is-new-york-city-landmarking-too-many-buildings.html

 

 

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