"If we wish to have a future with greater meaning, we must concern ourselves…
with all that is worth preserving from our past as a living part of the present."
-U.S. Conference of Mayors, With Heritage So Rich, 1966
I recently came across a great article about Preservation and promotion along the historic Route 66 corridor. In the article, the Erica Avrami of the World Monuments Fund, a New Your-based not-for-profit founded in 1965, stated, “One of the issues we discussed was more effective branding of the entire route. It’s hindered by the fact each state has its own tourism promotion.”
Also cited was a small Illinois town, population 1,649, among the success stories.
“We’re very happy but not completely surprised,” Bill Thomas said. “Visitors buy gas, they shop at our cute little shops, they eat at our restaurants. It’s paying off for us.” He also said private donations, including abandoned properties, have been vital to the Atlanta effort. He said private donations, including abandoned properties, have been vital to the Atlanta effort, and that sales tax revenue in peak travel months rose more than 40 percent from 2008 to 2012, an increase he attributed to Route 66 attractions.
The Valley towns have long been promoted as a "string of pearls" along the Old Valley Pike. And indeed they are. However, preserving these pearls take something much more than mere promotion. We have to have something for people to come to, and tearing down our history is not the answer.
Similar to losing a loved leader in the community, when one of these structures is lost, a whole community mourns.
What's more is that Historic Preservation creates jobs. The Denver Post wrote, "Jobs and the economy are Americans' No. 1 concern, but who'd expect historic preservation projects to help solve the financial tangle? Research on 30 years of preservation efforts across the country and their economic value has produced some amazing figures, well worth studying by decisionmakers" They further reported that benefits of historic preservation included increases in jobs, property values, heritage tourism and, of course, is better for the environment. "Maryland's investment in historic commerical properties over the last 12 years kept 387,000 tons of material from landfills, equivalent to filling a football stadium to a depth of 50 to 60 feet."
My personal effort to save the Historic Nelson house has been somewhat dismissed as a pipe-dream, but more widely supported as a worthwhile cause, peaking the interest of a number of state-wide preservation organizations. For the last four weeks, I have met so many preservation-minded individuals, and hears about great success stories, where the community came together to support what seemed at first fool-hardy. Developers, preservationists, and even government entities in Winchester, Leesburg, and neighboring towns have reached out to express support. Unfortunately, what is needed is a monetary investment. Personally, I was hoping to find someone local, or with local ties, who would express their desire to see a bit of Mount Jackson History preserved. The plan has been touted as ambitious, yet easily achieved. But it takes seeing past what we have at present. It takes a vision of what could be. It takes seeing past immediate profits to long term stability.
Unfortunately, time for our project is running short. The value of the project is not in short term real estate development value, but rather is to be found in the long term commitment to community development.
By coupling the project with the restoration of the old Farm Bureau, a host of tax credits are available to be "sold" to interested parties.
Preservation does not need to happen in lieu of growth. Instead the two can co-exist by simply valuing what our forefathers crafted before and by exerting a bit of sensitivity.
I wonder if Route 11, the Old Valley Pike, might not benefit from a similar cross-county preservation effort similar to that from which Route 66 is not benefiting?