June 24, 2014

Deciphering Preservation Jargon, Part Two

Once the hub of the tobacco industry in Durham, North Carolina, this historic factory has been converted into a space for entertainment, residential, retail, and office purposes.

As we shared in part one, preservation talk can be confusing. The acronyms, organizations, and federal laws that make up this movement’s language can all blend together sometimes to create a blanket of bewilderment.

To help you out, we’re focusing this follow-up post on other common terms and concepts that will give you a firm foundation for your preservation work. (For a full list of basic preservation terms, check out our legal and lobbying glossaries.)

Adaptive Reuse: Process of reusing an old building or site for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for.

Comprehensive Plan: Official plan adopted by local governments that guides decision-making about proposed public and private actions that affect community development.

Enabling Law: Law enacted by a state that sets forth the legal parameters by which local governments may operate. It’s the source of authority for enacting local preservation ordinances.

Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement (EA or EIA): Document prepared by state or federal agency to establish compliance with obligations under federal or state environmental protection laws to consider the impact of proposed actions on the environment, including historic resources.

The mid-19th century San Francisco Plantation was a prosperous sugar plantation in Garyville, La. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974 and is now a major tourist attraction.

Landmark: A site or structure designated by a local preservation ordinance or other law to be worthy of preservation because of its particular historic, architectural, archaeological, or cultural significance.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Primary federal law requiring consideration of potential impacts of major federal actions on the environment, including historic and cultural resources.

National Historic Landmark (NHL): Property included in the National Register of Historic Places that has been judged by the Secretary of the Interior to have "national significance in American history, archaeology, architecture, engineering and culture."

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA):The federal law that encourages the preservation of cultural and historic resources in the United States.

National Register of Historic Places: Official inventory of "districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture." (Check out our previous posts on defining the National Register and debunking myths about it.)

Precedent: A prior case or decision similar or identical in fact or legal principle to the matter at hand that provides authority for resolution in a similar or identical way.

Cassie Keener is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She enjoys writing, spending time outdoors, and enthusing about movies and music.

Related Stories

This Preservation Month, let's celebrate and explore historic places, starting with one action a day through the month of May. We can’t wait to see what you accomplish!

Get Started