This article places the ongoing struggle between disability activism and architectural preservation in a new light, by examining the creation and renovation of the Institute for Deaf- Mutes in Paris during the period when a political and social discourse of preservationism was first being constructed. This school was converted from the former Saint-Magloire seminary during the French Revolution of 1789, as disability education was nationalized and as the revolutionary government debated the fate of Old Regime edifices and symbols. While the seminary was never officially designated a “historic monument” worth conserving, the translation of this former religious site into a national deaf institute took place alongside, and intersected with, nascent debates on preservation and restoration that spanned the revolutionary and postrevolutionary eras. Through this investigation, this article recovers the principles of inclusion, democracy, and the social collective that infused the earliest conservation efforts, ultimately to counter the binary model of historical integrity versus accessibility that colors contemporary battles over preservation and the built environment.


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pp. 69-84
Launched on MUSE
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