Document Type

Article

Publication Date

4-30-2007

Abstract

In her 1981 Stanford Law Review article, Carol Rose articulated as a justification for the historic preservation "vogue" a community building rationale that transformed preservation from an end in itself to a means for community self-definition. Procedurally, Rose argued, preservation laws give communities the power to comment on the direction of development, and impurity of motive does not weaken the cause of community members who use the tools preservation law gives them. Suppose, she suggested, that the primary concern of neighbors is avoiding massive construction, and they emphasize history only as an instrument to oppose change. Such a motive is irrelevant under a rationale that elevates community building and definition over more traditional goals of aestheticism and patriotism. This rationale also would seem to apply in the circumstance where, recognizing the value of rights and preferences they must surrender under proposed historic districting, or choosing instead of preservation another social good, residents oppose restrictive measures imposed on their property at the local level. This essay examines Rose's proposal for the community building possibilities of historic preservation laws, and inquires what role opposition to preservation plays in that model. It looks to the reasons why communities might choose unrestricted demolition and unfettered modification, and offers suggestions for how historic preservation law can better take account of other community goals.