A Brief History of Preservation Month
Every year in May, local preservation groups, state historical societies, and business and civic organizations across the country celebrate Preservation Month through events that promote historic places and heritage tourism, and that demonstrate the social and economic benefits of historic preservation.
Preservation Month began as National Preservation Week in 1973. In 2005, the National Trust extended the celebration to the entire month of May and declared it Preservation Month to provide an even greater opportunity to celebrate the diverse and unique heritage of our country’s cities and states.
The first National Preservation Week was celebrated on May 6-12, 1973. At the annual meeting on October 27, 1972, in Washington, D.C., Donald T. Sheehan, a member of the Trustees Advisory Committee on Membership & Public Relations, proposed the idea of the National Preservation Week as a “means of relating local and state preservation progress to the national effort for the mutual benefits of both.” The National Trust chose the second week of May because it coincided with the organization's annual award luncheon, then in its third year.
A Joint Congressional Resolution was introduced on February 15, 1973, by Sen. Henry M. Jackson (D-Wash.), chairman of the Senate Interior and Insular Affairs Committee to designate the week of May 6-12, 1973, as National Preservation Week. President Richard Nixon signed the resolution into law on May 5, 1973.
First Lady Patricia Nixon, who presented the National Trust awards during the third annual Awards Luncheon in the Decatur House Garden on May 8th, also read the Presidential proclamation:
“As the pace of change accelerates in the world around us, Americans more than ever need a lively awareness of our roots and origins in the past on which to base our sense of identity in the present and our directions for the future.”
Mayors and governors throughout the country have since added their proclamations to President Nixon's.
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