April 27, 2015

Historic Sites Matter Because…

  • By: Priya Chhaya

"They connect me to my past and present." -- Stephanie Riley, Acoma Sky City

Over the past 15 months, National Trust deputy general counsel Tom Mayes has been asking preservationists to consider the question: Why do old places matter? While his answers include memory, community, and ancestry, his goal is to paint a more complete picture of why historic places, landscapes, and spaces are important.

We had this theme in mind when a group of National Trust staff members got together earlier this spring to talk about interpretation and education at our 27 historic sites. These individuals work every day with objects, land, and buildings. They are intimately connected with their site’s history and are filled with passion for its place in the broader community.

So, we asked each of them to complete the statement “Historic Sites Matter because…” Their answers inspired us -- we hope they’ll inspire you, too.

"They make time travel possible!" -- Kristen Laise, Belle Grove Plantation

"They share our past and inform our present." -- Jessica Peel Austin, Brucemore

"They are places of creativity and inspiration." -- Donna Hassler, Chesterwood

"They create connections and spark conversations." -- Carolyn Wallace, Cliveden

"They help define our place in time." -- Michael Green, Monterey State Historic Park (Cooper Molera)

"They provide a tangible, authentic link to the past." -- Allison Jordan, Drayton Hall

"There's nothing better than the real thing!" -- Kate Lichota, The Glass House

"They evoke the ghosts of the past and frame questions about the present." -- Dave Favaloro, Lower East Side Tenement Museum

"They connect our shared past to an ever-changing present." -- Krystyn Hastings Silver, Lyndhurst

"They bring history off the page and into our lives." -- Rebecca Hagan, Montpelier

"They are tangible memories and stories." -- Josslyn Stiner, Oatlands

"We can share ideas for a better future." -- Michelle Martz, President Lincoln's Cottage

"If we do not value and preserve the past, we cannot fully understand and appreciate the present." -- Meryle Cawley, Touro Synagogue

"They teach us about the past and inspire us to save them for future generations." -- Karina Serna, Villa Finale

"The past often determines our future." -- Amanda Phillips, Woodlawn

"They bring people together!" -- Stephanie Daugherty, The President Woodrow Wilson House

Want to share with us why old places matter to you? Stay tuned to Preservation Leadership Forum for more information about their upcoming video contest celebrating Preservation Month. Check here for more info!

While her day job is the associate director of content at the National Trust for Historic Preservation, Priya spends other waking moments musing, writing, and learning about how the public engages and embraces history.


Join us for PastForward Online 2021, the historic preservation event of the year, November 2-5, 2021.

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