common sense standards for a historic park?

Regardless of whether or not Golden Gate Park is officially listed on the National Register of Historic Places, guidelines developed by the National Park Service for historic properties that are listed on the National Register could be useful in debates about how to manage this historic San Francisco park as a cultural resource.


“The Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties are common sense principles in non-technical language. They were developed to help protect our nation’s irreplaceable cultural resources by promoting consistent preservation practices.

The Standards may be applied to all properties listed in the National Register of Historic Places: buildings, sites, structures, objects, and districts.

The Standards are a series of concepts about maintaining, repairing and replacing historic materials, as well as designing new additions or making alterations. They cannot, in and of themselves, be used to make decisions about which features of a historic property should be preserved and which might be changed. But once an appropriate treatment is selected, the Standards provide philosophical consistency to the work.

There are Standards for four distinct, but interrelated, approaches to the treatment of historic properties–preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction.

Preservation focuses on the maintenance and repair of existing historic materials and retention of a property’s form as it has evolved over time. (Protection and Stabilization have now been consolidated under this treatment.)

Rehabilitation acknowledges the need to alter or add to a historic property to meet continuing or changing uses while retaining the property’s historic character.

Restoration depicts a property at a particular period of time in its history, while removing evidence of other periods.

Reconstruction re-creates vanished or non-surviving portions of a property for interpretive purposes.”

via TPS Standards and Guidelines.

Which approach would be best for Golden Gate Park?  Or is it possible that each of the four approaches might be useful at some point in a large park like this with such a long and rich history?

dunes in golden gate park, viewed from strawberry hill, 1880 (San Francisco Historical Photograph Collection, SFPL)


About fromthethicket

I'm a landscape historian and professor emeritus of landscape architecture, UC Davis. I live in San Francisco.
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