Friday, December 6, 2013

The Atlanta Historic Resources Workbook

In the late 1970s, just over a decade from the passing of the National Historic Preservation Act and just prior to the tax acts that created the historic preservation tax credit, the Atlanta Urban Design Commission  (AUDC) began a survey of Atlanta's historic resources. In 1981, with the help of a grant from the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO), the survey was greatly expanded and culminated in the Atlanta Historic Resources Workbook. This nearly 300-page publication represents the first, and perhaps the last time, the City of Atlanta has comprehensively surveyed their domain to determine the existence and condition of its historic resources.

In many ways the Workbook was forward thinking: the inclusion of just a few buildings not quite 50 years (e.g. the Academy of Medicine building), recognition of the value of embodied energy (though that term had not yet been coined), and the suggestion that "conservation" is a more appropriate term than "preservation" to represent all that we do in the field of the historic built environment. The authors of the workbook recognized that Atlanta was lagging behind other cities in their efforts to identify and protect its historic resources. Their efforts did much to catch the city up. However, after nearly three decades, many of the historic resources identified as being important to Atlanta's legacy are gone, and of the nearly 248 sites and 27 districts identified in the Workbook, only 58 sites and 17 districts receive formal protection (and even these are sometimes lost). 

Over the next few months Rag and Bone will be revisiting these sites to see just how far we have come.

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