Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
Historic preservation movements and their philosophies generally have been overlooked by historians as particular reflections of their periods. This is a cultural history, therefore, of two organizations--the Association for the Preservation of Virginia Antiquities (APVA, 1889) and the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities (SPNEA, 1910)--from their establishment through the Progressive era. Since both organizations mirrored the perspectives, class, and culture of their organizers and leaders, this study relies upon the published and unpublished writings of the leading preservationists. Fearing that society had abandoned the traditions associated with their ancestors, they preached a Gospel of Preservation, a message that the future stability of society was inextricably linked to the citizen's loyalty to traditionalism. Striving to regenerate the older values, ethics, and discipline, preservationists used historic buildings and sites as symbols for the old order and as devices to influence the course of modern society. The two associations, however, employed different means to implement their gospels. While the APVA concentrated its efforts on a romantic reinterpretation of Virginia history, the SPNEA emphasized a scientific preservation of New England's built environment.;Both organizations were integral parts of traditionalist resurgences in their respective regions. After two decades of chaos, the APVA used history to help restore the conservatives' order, identity, and philosophy of traditionalism. The SPNEA, on the other hand, reacted to changes resulting from immigration and industrial capitalism. It worked to professionalize the movement, establish scientific methods, protect the Yankee's material culture, and thereby insure the Anglo-Saxon's imprint upon the region. Hoping to influence modern society, the two associations therefore used different tactics to popularize their inherited cultures. In the process preservationists helped to regenerate earlier traditions, secure Anglo-Saxon cultural hegemony, institutionalize a civil religion, and inspire traditionalist leaders through the lessons embodied in the preserved past. The societal perspectives of these preservationists, like those of many progressives, were limited, however, by their class interests and ethnocentrism. The Gospel of Preservation accordingly represented a prologue premised upon the class and cultural values of the preservationists.
© The Author
Lindgren, James Michael, "The gospel of preservation in Virginia and New England : historic preservation and the regeneration of traditionalism" (1984). Dissertations, Theses, and Masters Projects. Paper 1539623747.