Historic Preservation

These books examine how we can preserve and restore our historic buildings—why historic preservation adds to the vibrancy of contemporary neighborhoods and cities.

Adventures with Old Houses
By Richard Hampton Jenrette
This is the story of one man's adventures in acquiring and bringing back to life some of America's most enticing and historically significant dwellings. This uniquely personal account of the quest, the acquisition, the restoration, and the furnishing of each property is instructive and entertaining. Along the way, he introduces the artisans, curators, furniture specialists, designers, antiquarians, preservationists, and collectors who have played a part in his Adventures with Old Houses.

Vanishing America book jacket

Vanishing America: In Pursuit of our Elusive Landscapes
By James Conaway
A mixture of travelogue and personal narrative, James Conaway's smart, informative essays offer an insightful depiction of his journeys between Washington, D.C., and Big Sur, California, as he tries to understand what has become of the places, people, and traditions that were once so precious but have now been irreparably changed. Incorporating the voices of cowboys, real estate agents, activists, and many others, he raises vital questions about the merits of sprawling development and the ever-increasing use of resources in the name of "progress." He urges us to consider the value of preservation in our growth-driven culture, as well as the ramifications of prosperity on the places important to our national identity.

Saving Monticello: The Levy Family's Epic Quest to Rescue the House That Jefferson Built
By Marc Leepson
The dramatic, untold story of how two generations of an American family fought to save one of our nation's greatest treasures--Thomas Jefferson's elegant mansion Monticello.

Saving America's Treasures
By the National Trust for Historic Preservation
Spearheaded by such luminaries as First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton and influential preservationists Richard Moe, the Save America's Treasures campaign is showcased in this tribute to American's rich heritage. Items targeted by the campaign include Babe Ruth's scrapbooks and Louis Armstrong's archives.

The Future of the Past book jacket

The Future of the Past
By Alexander Stille
A fascinating tour of the past as it exists today, and of the dangers that threaten it, through incisive portraits of our attempts to maintain it: the high-tech struggles to save the Great Sphinx and the Ganges; the efforts to preserve Latin within the Vatican; the digital glut inside the National Archives, which may have caused more information to be lost than ever before; and an oral culture threatened by a "new" technology: writing itself. Stille explores not simply the past, but our ideas about the past--and how they will have to change if our past is to have a future.

Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson: A Journey Into America's Architectural Past
By Hugh Howard
Dr. Kimball and Mr. Jefferson is a moment-by-moment narrative of the men who created the profession of architecture in America, and Fiske Kimball is the spokesman: As the pioneering writer, scholar, and museum director who first assembled their stories, he takes us along in the surprising paper chase that eventually revealed Jefferson's architectural genius. Along the way, we also learn his story of dramatic discoveries and his founding of the twin disciplines of historic preservation and architectural history.

Colonial Houses: The Historic Homes of Williamsburg
By Hugh Howard
For anyone interested in learning about or creating an authentic Colonial-style home, Bob Vila collaborator Hugh Howard provides a tour of selected Colonial Williamsburg classic homes. It includes floor plans and full-color photos.

Preserving the World's Great Cities book jacket

Preserving the World's Great Cities: The Destruction and Renewal of the Historic Metropolis
By Anthony M. Tung
Both epic and intimate, this is the story of the fight to save the world's architectural and cultural heritage as it is embodied in the extraordinary buildings and urban spaces of the great cities of Asia, the Americas, and Europe.

We Were the Lands's: The Biography of a Homeplace
By John Head
This book is a moving story of one man's quest to renovate his family's decrepit homestead and the lessons he learns along the way about the meaning of family and community.

Changing Places: Rebuilding Community in the Age of Sprawl
By Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie
In Changing Places, Richard Moe and Carter Wilkie explore how America's historic communities are confronting sprawl: fragile towns throughout New England and the Midwest are defending themselves from corporate giants like Wal-Mart stores; community activists are building pride and hope in distressed neighborhoods in Pittsburgh and New Orleans by using preservation as a tool for revitalization; and, in the same way, cities such as Denver, Memphis, and Portland, Oregon, are breathing life back into their historic downtowns. Richard Moe spoke at the Library in October 2008.

Book descriptions provided by BookLetters.