Preservation Round-Up: Twitter Chat Edition

Posted on: March 3rd, 2011 by Sarah Heffern
@lloydalter: Greetings from sunny Sanibel, where I am at a heritagetrailer park!

@lloydalter: Greetings from sunny Sanibel, where I am at a heritage trailer park!

As I wrote about earlier in the week, we hosted our first Twitter chat yesterday, on the topic of adaptive use.  Going into it, none of us were sure what to expect – how many people would “show up,” whether there would be enough chatter to sustain a conversation, etc. We kind of thought that if we maxed out at 20 people, it would probably be pretty good for a first try.

Well. It turns out we had nothing to worry about.

One frenetic hour of tweeting and re-tweeting later, we took a look at our stats and discovered that more than 100 people weighed in on our questions, totaling nearly 700 messages. We had people contributing from far and wide – some here in DC, others in Miami, San Francisco, St. Paul, Toronto… and even Brisbane, Australia. So much for our concerns that no one would show up! The entire transcript of the chat is available, but I’ve pulled out a few replies for each of the questions to show the great responses we were seeing.

A note on reading the items below: I’ve left everyone’s Twitter handle (that is, the name they use on Twitter) in place and linked, so you can click through and see more of their messages. I’ve removed all of the #builtheritage hashtags, however, since it looks incredibly cluttered with them all there.

Just as we were about to get started, this is the first tweet that appeared:

HeritageMuse: Its 4pm EST do you know where your #builtheritage is?

And with that, we were off:

Q1 -What are your favourite* examples of adaptive reuse?

  • KarjaCH: A1 Most favorite is a 3 story brick cheese factory now climbing gym and coffee shop on the river in Idaho Falls, ID
  • trustmodern: A1  Adaptive: How about my ranch house? Built for atomic family of four, now home to 3 generations of Madrid Frenches!
  • TheRealJeffS: Pics of the future 'Sally Creek Recreation Centre' as it currently sits - ready for adaptive reuse!
  • stevemouzon: A1: but for a really fun one, Andiamo's is a funky pizza parlor on Biscayne that was once General Tire
  • lloydalter: A1 I love marcy wong's ford assembly building in richmond CA

Q2 – What are the biggest barriers for adaptive reuse?

  • wanderu: A2: barriers = lack of supportive zoning + OP policies, banks+lenders unwilling to fund, lack of skilled heritage trades
  • Craig_Cap: A2: A huge barrier is lack of co-operation/clear vision of what the property could be.
  • uglyshirt: The belief that the cost of adaptive reuse is too prohibitive for cities.

Q3 - What steps can heritage groups take to encourage adaptive reuse?

  • urbanmatt: A3: It's really about practical and highlighting range of opportunities with older buildings. Pres. need not be restoration.
  • GalinaTachieva: A3:Look at buildings in context, show how they work as part of urban fabric and support spirit of place
  • jonaskayla: Show economics - Good study on the economics of adaptive reuse by @hrcheritage
  • DG_rad: I think of myself as a practical preservationist. We'll turn people off to pres if goal is always Colonial Williamsburg.

Q4 - How do you get local support for adaptive reuse of buildings?

  • HRCHeritage: A4: promotion of the integrity of the building and what it represents to the community
  • GalinaTachieva: A4: Besides showing economics, highlight how existing buildings can become part of the competitive edge of a place
  • trustmodern: A4 Expand historic context of bldg to show how it fits into the community. Who built it/loved it/lived it?  #storytelling
  • KarjaCH: A4: Get involved at the local gov level and help change codes and regs to allow, support, prefer adaptive reuse

Q5 - Is there a building you would like to see reused? For what?

Looking for more about the chat? Our moderator, Kayla Jonas, has a couple of posts on her blog, Adventures in Heritage, and another participant, Krista McCracken, has posted a recap on her blog, Historical Reminiscents. And, if you missed out this time, don’t despair – we’ll be doing this the first Wednesday of every month, so the next chat is already set for April 6 at 4:00 EDT.

* Please note that Kayla is from Ontario, so “favourite” is not misspelled or a typo. It’s just Canadian for “favorite.”

Sarah Heffern is the content manager for She can be found on Twitter at @smheffern, where she spends possibly too much of her free time tweeting about social media, pop culture, food, and the Washington Capitals.

The National Trust for Historic Preservation works to save America's historic places. Join us today to help protect the places that matter to you.

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern

Sarah Heffern is the social media strategist for the National Trust’s Public Affairs team. While she embraces all things online and pixel-centric, she’s also a hard-core building hugger, having fallen for preservation in a fifth grade “Built Environment” class. Follow her on Twitter at @smheffern.

News Round-Ups