Historic preservation has an image problem. The field has evolved from a conversation among an elite few regarding select monumental buildings judged solely for their appearance or national significance, to a dialogue among many about collections of buildings appreciated for their pluralistic contexts and meanings. Despite these advancements, the discipline is still often accused of being elitist, exclusionary, and opposed to equity. Couched within the field's interdisciplinary expansion, preservation's supporters and critics increasingly demand greater and more comprehensive inclusion of minority and marginalized communities in the preservation process to ensure fairer distribution of its costs and benefits. Given the current climate of cause-driven social movements and vibrant social dialogue, ignoring such a clarion call threatens to stagnate the preservation field and its contributions to contemporary issues, as well as substantiate accusations that the field is incompatible with equity. There is extremely limited literature on preservation and equity. This research begins to fill that gap. It starts by tracing the discipline's conceptual evolution toward equity and diversity and emphasizes the anachronistic mismatch between the field's conceptual development and practical implementation. It then examines the scant literature directly connecting preservation and equity, contending that an equity preservation approach addresses three of the most common criticisms levied at the field—which are also among society's significant social challenges—gentrification, diversity, and social justice. The paper concludes by presenting examples of two tools, public-private partnerships and community land trusts, that are particularly well suited to an equity preservation agenda.


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pp. 66-83
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