Preservation Magazine, Summer 2022

President's Note: Places of Beauty and Heritage

Since our founding in 1949, the National Trust for Historic Preservation has been actively saving America’s historic sites. Over the last seven decades, this work has taken many forms and our understanding of what it means to protect and save places has evolved, but a constant nucleus remains: the portfolio of National Trust Historic Sites, representing the front door to our mission. These 27 places exemplify some of the nation’s most interesting, beautiful, and thought-provoking cultural places for the public to enjoy.

Visitors can engage with a range of architectural accomplishments, design styles, and natural and managed landscapes. Stroll through beautiful gardens, grand estates, and iconic Modernist homes. Celebrate cultural heritage sites that preserve the complex intertwining of people’s stories and legacies. Bathe in the solemnity of sacred places and listen closely to the voices of the past, present, and future.

After years of remote work, digital overload, and pandemic isolation, I hope you will find time in your travels this summer or fall to visit one of our National Trust Historic Sites. At each of these places, talented staff and volunteers create visitor experiences that present and reveal their varied stories. From contemporary art exhibitions to theatrical and musical performances to recreational activities, our sites are places of beauty and relaxation.

Equally important, our sites provide provocative and thoughtful experiences on highly relevant subjects, such as the ongoing legacies of slavery. These dynamic interpretations continue to evolve, just like the places themselves. Additionally, our National Trust Historic Sites conceive and manage enterprises such as unique eateries and retail stores, along with memory-making private events—all aligned with the spirit of the place, and all of which help to sustain these cultural assets.

Regardless of your interests, I am confident you will leave a visit to one of our National Trust Historic Sites filled with inspiration, curiosity, and thoughtful introspection. For more information, visit SavingPlaces.org/historic-sites.

National Trust Historic Sites also put into practice the concept of preservation in perpetuity, including fiscal sustainability, long-view stewardship, robust audience engagement, and the constant pursuit of relevancy and truth in history. In that context, I want to end this brief note by acknowledging the incredible work of staff and volunteers, so much of which happens behind the scenes—often invisible to the public eye but nonetheless invaluable in maintaining and protecting these places. The dedication of these site stewards extends not only to the iconic buildings and grounds, but also to the collections of fascinating objects, from fine art to apparel to archival materials, and to the stories that they tell collectively.

These complex properties remind us of the power of place in our lives and the dedication required to steward that transformative force into the future.

Paul Edmondson is the president & CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation.

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