[10 on Tuesday] Ten (More) Essential Preservation Books

Posted on: January 14th, 2014 by Emily Potter 2 Comments

blog_photo_Elliot Bay Book Company
Elliott Bay Book Company, an independent and family-owned bookstore in Seattle.

There are tons of informative, fascinating, and practical books out there on historic preservation and its connection to our cities, neighborhoods, and lives. We have a handful of suggestions below to get you started or add to your list. You can also take a look at our first preservation books list for even more ideas.

Head to your favorite local or online bookstore to check out these titles:

1. Build On: Converted Architecture and Transformed Buildings, by L. Feireiss (editor) and R. Klanten (editor). A collection of extraordinary examples of transformed spaces, such abandoned churches and forsaken rural centers that are reborn as residences, hotels, and more.

2. A Field Guide to American Houses: The Definitive Guide to Identifying and Understanding America's Domestic Architecture, by Virginia Savage McAlester. A newly designed and expanded second edition of the most comprehensive and widely acclaimed guide to American domestic architecture. (Bonus: Check out a recent New York Times article about McAlester's road to her latest edition.)

3. Giving Preservation a History: Histories of Historic Preservation in the United States, by Max Page (editor) and Randall Mason (editor). A compilation of essays from noted figures in the preservation field that explore topics ranging from the European roots of the historic preservation movement to what the changing nature of the movement means for preserving our past.

4. Keeping Time: The History and Theory of Preservation in America, by William J. Murtagh. A basic primer on the American historic preservation movement, useful for both students of preservation as well as anyone interested in historic buildings and their relevance today.

5. Nearby History: Exploring the Past Around You, by David E. Kyvig and Myron A. Marty. The third edition of a comprehensive handbook written to help you better explore the history in your midst, from a variety of research methods to new technology for documenting your surroundings.

6. Old Buildings, New Forms, by Francoise Bollack. A survey of examples from across the country and worldwide demonstrating unique solutions to adapting historic buildings for contemporary uses. (Check out Preservation Leadership Forum's book review.)

blog_photo_Man reading a book

7. The Past is a Foreign Country, by David Lowenthal. A wide-ranging analysis of how the past is continually shaping our lives, referencing sources as diverse as science fiction and psychoanalysis.

8. Place, Race, and Story: Essays on the Past and Future of Historic Preservation, by Ned Kaufman. A collection of the author’s own essays on how to give the next generation of preservationists the knowledge and ideas they need to take preservation to the next level.

9. The Politics of Historic Districts: A Primer for Grassroots Preservation -- and “part two”: Preservation Politics: Keeping Historic Districts Vital, by Bill Schmickle. The first is everything you need to know about the politics of organizing a campaign for designating a local historic district; the second offers sound advice on maintaining the newly created historic district.

10. Walkable City: How Downtown Can Save America, One Step at a Time, by Jeff Speck. An inspiring vision for America’s cities based on the idea that walkability is key to a thriving, viable community.

On the lighter side:

Loving Frank, by Nancy Horan. Written from the point of view of one of Frank Lloyd Wright’s wives, blending fact and fiction seamlessly.

The Island Walkers, by John Bemrose. A story of a family of mill workers fighting to protect their way of life on the Island.

Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, by John Berendt. A mystical exploration of the society and culture of old Savannah surrounding a landmark murder case.

Keep the recommendations coming! If you have any other preservation-related book suggestions for us, let us know in the comments below.

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.

Emily Potter

Emily Potter is a copywriter at the National Trust. She enjoys writing about places of all kinds, the stories that make them special, and the people who love them enough to save them.

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2 Responses

  1. Carol

    January 14, 2014

    Place, Race, and Story is my preservation bible. Preservation advocates will benefit from Kaufman’s arguments that challenge the “conventional” wisdom of economics and provide “a new language for preservation.” Anyone who believes in the urgency of preserving culture and community and the importance of giving residents a voice in the development of their environment will be energized by Kaufman’s words.

  2. Matt

    January 15, 2014

    “What Time is This Place?” by Kevin Lynch has proven to be an entertaining exercise in identifying the passage of time in the built environment.