[Preservation Tips & Tools] Deciphering Preservation Jargon, Part Two

Posted on: June 24th, 2014 by Cassie Keener 2 Comments

Once the hub of the tobacco industry in Durham, North Carolina, this historic factory has been converted into a space for entertainment, residential, retail, and office purposes.

As we shared in part one, preservation talk can be confusing. The acronyms, organizations, and federal laws that make up this movement’s language can all blend together sometimes to create a blanket of bewilderment.

To help you out, we’re focusing this follow-up post on other common terms and concepts that will give you a firm foundation for your preservation work. (For a full list of basic preservation terms, check out our legal and lobbying glossaries.)

Adaptive Reuse: Process of reusing an old building or site for a purpose other than which it was originally built or designed for.

Comprehensive Plan: Official plan adopted by local governments that guides decision-making about proposed public and private actions that affect community development.

Enabling Law: Law enacted by a state that sets forth the legal parameters by which local governments may operate. It’s the source of authority for enacting local preservation ordinances.

Environmental Assessment or Impact Statement (EA or EIA): Document prepared by state or federal agency to establish compliance with obligations under federal or state environmental protection laws to consider the impact of proposed actions on the environment, including historic resources.

The mid-19th century San Francisco Plantation was a prosperous sugar plantation in Garyville, La. It was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1974 and is now a major tourist attraction.

Landmark: A site or structure designated by a local preservation ordinance or other law to be worthy of preservation because of its particular historic, architectural, archaeological, or cultural significance.

National Environmental Policy Act (NEPA): Primary federal law requiring consideration of potential impacts of major federal actions on the environment, including historic and cultural resources.

National Historic Landmark (NHL): Property included in the National Register of Historic Places that has been judged by the Secretary of the Interior to have "national significance in American history, archaeology, architecture, engineering and culture."

National Historic Preservation Act (NHPA):The federal law that encourages the preservation of cultural and historic resources in the United States.

National Register of Historic Places: Official inventory of "districts, sites, buildings, structures, and objects significant in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture." (Check out our previous posts on defining the National Register and debunking myths about it.)

Precedent: A prior case or decision similar or identical in fact or legal principle to the matter at hand that provides authority for resolution in a similar or identical way.

Now it’s your turn: Mention any additional terms you’d like us to help define 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.

Cassie Keener

Cassie Keener

Cassie Keener is an Editorial Intern at the National Trust. She enjoys writing, spending time outdoors, and is a movie and music enthusiast.

Preservation Tips & Tools, Tools

2 Responses

  1. Daniel Ronan

    June 25, 2014

    Hello Cassie, thanks so much for this post, great idea! I think some other terms worth defining for folks include: “significance,” “easement,” and “State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO).”

  2. Sherri Marsh Johns

    June 26, 2014

    Great idea. Please add distinction between historical society, and regulatory agencies such as planning offices and SHPO. I’ve lost count of how many times I have heard “The historical society is making them….”