Maryland Preservation Advocacy Day in Annapolis, 2018.

The Preservation Ethic is Strong in Maryland

By Nicholas A. Redding

When Preservation Maryland was formed in 1931, nearly 90 years ago, the United States was in a period of dramatic transformation. The pre-war twentieth century and the decades which followed World War Two were also remarkably focused on the future – and the history and heritage which stood in the way was simply brushed aside.

This era saw the whole-scale demolition of neighborhoods in the name of “urban renewal” and the construction of an expansive interstate highway system. The federal and state governments paid little attention to the concerns of preservationists. It was an uphill struggle – it always has been and, perhaps, always will be.

However, what has changed in the intervening years has been an installation of a preservation ethic across society that was nonexistent during our formative years. This ethic may not always prevail – but it is strong and ever present.

In just the past few weeks, we’ve seen signs of it around every corner:

Rendering of Dominion Energy stacks. Courtesy of Mount Vernon.

Gov. Hogan joins other dignitaries for ceremonial groundbreaking at the Maryland Theater in Hagerstown, MD. Photo courtesy of Herald Mail.

Stone buildings in Woodberry streetscape, 2018.

Success in every situation is far from assured – but what is clear is that a preservation ethic has most assuredly taken hold. Once enshrined in the hearts of the people, that ethic is sure to win over the long haul and though there may be losses, we simply can’t lose when the majority favors preservation over demolition and neglect.

The preservation ethic isn’t just anecdotally recognized – recent polling here in Maryland has underscored that the vast majority of Marylanders support increased funding and tools to protect historic resources. Preservationists are the majority. From Oakland to Ocean City, the numbers are the same and equally impressive.

For those in the trenches of preservation, it’s important to remember you are not alone and your fellow citizens are behind your efforts. As the statewide organization, with a near 90-year history, it’s also heartening to see the impact of our nine decades of preservation advocacy.

Historian Stephen Ambrose’s axiom continues to ring true:

The past is a source of knowledge, and the future is a source of hope. Love of the past implies faith in the future.

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Nicholas A. Redding · Executive Director

Nicholas A. Redding is Preservation Maryland’s Executive Director and between announcing major organizational updates, he often blogs about Maryland and Civil War history.

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