Preserve, Restore or Toss?

Providing future generations with places that reflect their cultural values and ideals and maintaining their political, social and historic legacy requires a commitment of individuals, organizations and government. After decisions have been made on whether to restore, adapt, preserve or toss, the next steps require collaboration, knowledge and persistence.

Faneuil Hall Marketplace (1742), D.C.’s Eastern Market (1873) and Seattle’s Pike Place Market (1907) have more in common than fresh fish and produce. They continue to meet a community’s needs because of concerted efforts to maintain and renovate them while keeping their character.

Preserving old structures is not always the answer in the debate other development and economic growth. Content in this guide looks at some of the differences of opinion and asks students to consider the alternatives. What should be remembered of the past and what needs to make way for the present? What can be adapted to acknowledge one’s heritage while serving current needs?

Students also examine types of memorials and the words we select to inscribe on them. Case studies include a Civil War battlefield, design of a presidential memorial and quotations to remember a civil rights leader. Activities involve designing a memorial, conceiving and evaluating a redesign of the National Mall, and proposing contents for a museum’s exhibit.

The e-Replica activity shows students how to research current and future Post coverage of preservation projects. Many of the activities cross disciplines because of the social, cultural, economic and historic issues, art and architecture considerations, and science of preservation.

May 2012

Resource Graphic 

Develop Your Vocabulary
Art, Chemistry, English, History

Terms associated with preservation are included in “In the Know.”  The definitions for “integrity” through “restoration” on the list are from the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards and Guidelines for Archeology and Historic Preservation.  

Be Alert
English, History, Reading, U.S. History

Teachers and their students will find two features of the e-Replica format helpful in locating preservation-related articles and commentary. “Alert! | Preservation Taking Place"  provides the steps to take to set up simple and advanced searches and to receive alerts.

Three examples of a search conducted on May 2, 2012, are included to illustrate the variety of articles that may be found. “Preservation” was the search term used. Form three groups, assign each group of students a different article to locate and read. Ask students to summarize the information provided in the assigned article.

Who might be interested in each of the articles? John Kelly’s “Freedom follows a maintenance schedule” would be of interest to historians, preservation groups and people visiting D.C. The other articles would also interest citizens interested in saving a neighborhood landmark and owners of home movies and the 1984 Apple Macintosh.

After students conduct an e-Replica search, do a similar activity with the new articles. Students will find audience reflected in the text through content, diction and purpose. 


Measure the Impossible Weight of History
Geography, History, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. History

The groundbreaking ceremony for the last museum to be built on the National Mall was held February 22, 2012. By then vision statements had been written, leaders were secured, architects had submitted designs, and more than 25,000 artifacts had been collected. Museum with a Mission provides the resources to follow the building rising from its subterranean levels and to visit the National Museum of African American History and Culture when it opens.

Design: National Museum of African American History and Culture” focuses on first impressions of the exterior. The informational graphics of “Structure: NMAAHC” feature location, size and site proportions.  Use “Vision: Where Will It Be? What Is Its Meaning?” to discuss the importance of a museum being on the Mall, its physical presence and symbolic details.

Read “The Impossible Weight of History.” On the eve of groundbreaking the National Museum of African American History and Culture, Arts reporter Sarah Kaufman focuses on the expectations museum visitors have: A display of the most important objects, a compelling story that relates something new and revelation of something about ourselves. Discuss these ideas and the evaluations made of current museums on the Mall, “the single greatest gallery of America’s treasures.”

In what ways is The Washington Post informing its readers of current and future events? What is the role of media in evaluating museums and other community organizations?


Think About a Museum’s Artifacts
Chemistry, History, Social Studies, U.S. History

Lonnie Bunch, founding director of the National Museum of African American History and Culture, says he is driven by a “compulsion to document the unknown.” He has led the team of curators selecting from private collections. Artifacts reflecting four topics are shown in  “Documenting History and Culture— Slavery Era, Underground Railroad, Civil Rights and The Arts."

On each page a blank box appears for students to sketch artifacts they would add to the exhibits and to write a caption. After the museum opens in 2015, the same exercise may be assigned or students may take these pages to sketch another item on display in each of these categories.

Another approach to the topic of content is found in “When Should Places and Items Be Preserved?” Students consider items that they own or that are part of their environment. Some questions to consider:

• What criteria should guide preservation?

• When should seemingly useless or unwanted items be saved to reflect an era?

• What items are of value only to one’s self or family?

• What are the best methods of restoration? What products may heighten deterioration?

• When should the federal government or institutions be involved to select and house items?

• When an institution or museum takes items from a personal collection what is its responsibility to preserve and protect them? In what ways is a knowledge of science necessary to perform this duty?

The artifacts found in “Documenting History and Culture" might be used as examples.


Design a Memorial

Art, History, Social Studies, U.S. History

Have students think of what or whom they would want to honor with a memorial.

“Why Are Memorials and Monuments Significant?” presents the urge to remember and to honor and the forms it may take.

Give “Design a Memorial” to students. Have students write a journal about the person, group or event they would want to memorialize. In the same journal or another, students could brainstorm what form the memorial would take.

The student activity could end here or extend into designing the memorial — as a physical monument, scholarship or event.

Getting approval for one’s design is just the beginning of getting a memorial established. The Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial Web site includes a site map, Aerial Archive Slideshow (a monthly progression once work has begun on the memorial), and mission and vision statements that might illustrate the process.


 Redesign the National Mall

Art, Geography, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. History

Through news coverage of marches and demonstrations, presidential inaugurations and Fourth of July celebrations, individuals across the globe are acquainted with the National Mall. Many students from around the country have taken family or class visits to Washington, D.C. Most students who live in the Metropolitan D.C. area have also been to the National Mall.

Using the maps of the National Mall take a walk from the Lincoln Memorial to the Capitol and back. Be sure to include the Jefferson Memorial loop.

• What events in American history are commemorated?

• Who is remembered?

• In what ways is the American culture and spirit shown through the people, open spaces, statues and museums?

What’s missing from the National Mall? If students were to redesign the National Mall, what would remain? What would be changed? What would be added? As time allows, teachers may engage students in proposal writing, art projects and presentations before an architectural and historical review committee. Steps would include:

• Review the maps of the east and west views of the National Mall. Indicate where you will make a change.

• State the problems you wish to address.

• Draw a sketch of your proposal.

• Write a proposal for a redesign the National Mall.


 Contest Editorial Cartoon’s View
Art, English, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. Government

An editorial cartoon presents a visual commentary. Give students “Tom Toles: Mall Redesign Competition Winner.”  Questions are provided to help students “read” the image. Teachers may need to provide students with some background on opinions about climate change expressed by members of Congress. 


View Mall Redesign Winners
Art, Biology, Debate, Social Studies, U.S. History

The Trust for the National Mall announced the winning architectural teams in the competition to redesign three landscapes between the Capitol and the Lincoln Memorial. Use the National Mall maps to locate the areas to be redesigned.

Read “Firms Picked for Mall Redesign Project.”  Renderings of the three proposed landscapes help students to picture the visions of the teams. More renderings are found online in Style

If your students have proposed their redesigns for the Mall (see “Redesign the National Mall” above), compare their ideas with that of the winning teams.

Students could debate aspects of all designs. Include the impact on environment. Remind students of the natural landscape that was transformed over the years into the Mall.

Students could play the role of members of the Trust for the National Mall and Architect of the Capitol. They are in charge of raising funds for the projects. Design posters, Web site promotional ads, a newspaper ad and other media communication to inform citizens and seek donations.


Debate the Design
Art, Debate, Social Studies, U.S. History

President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s Presidential Library & Museum in Abilene, Kan., offers special activities and displays to honor the general, president of Columbia University and two-term U.S. president. In recent years, the Eisenhower Memorial Commission has sought the proper way to present his legacy: How to honor Eisenhower in D.C. when space has become so limited?

After competition, the design of architect Frank Gehry was selected. Locate the building site on “The National Mall: East of the Washington Monument” map.  Give students “Eisenhower Memorial Design Concept” to review.

Read the following articles to learn more about the proposed design, the complication of the site, and the concerns over the design.

• “A new wrinkle: Gehry’s Eisenhower memorial is bold but not curvy,”  Philip Kennicott’s review of the winning design

•  “Ike’s granddaughters say the Gehry sends a boy to do a man’s job,” Katherine Boyle reports on the debate over the design

• “The monument war,” the cover story of the May 13, 2012, WP Sunday Magazine focuses on the memorial’s design and differences of opinion. The photographs that accompany Philip Kennicott’s article are also informative.

Debate whether the current Eisenhower Memorial design coveys the life and legacy of the president, given the space that is available.


Find the Right Words
Art, English, Social Studies

Many monuments and memorials have quotations chiseled into the marble and stone. Ask students to name monuments with which they are familiar. What words are inscribed on them?

After discussing the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. with students, introduce the concept of memorials. Not only must the right location and design be produced, the right words to capture the essence of a person’s life and work must be determined. Inscription walls are found at the John F. Kennedy and FDR memorials, for example.

At the Martin Luther King, Jr. National Memorial on two memorial walls, extending from the Mountain of Despair, 14 quotations are inscribed. A nearly 29-foot tall “Stone of Hope” symbolic statue stands at the center. Give students “Written in Stone”  to distinguish the full quotation and its context from the paraphrase used on the statue. The full text of the sermon, “Drum Major Instinct" puts the quotation in its context.

Read the Washington Post article “Park Service to amend words set in stone,” originally published February 11, 2012.  Discuss the different points of view toward the paraphrase and the suggested solution to the debate. With whom do students agree?

Give students “In Dr. Martin Luther King’s Own Words.” What quotation, partial quotation or paraphrase would they use on the statue? This activity could focus on the “Drum Major” quotation or be used for students to select their own quotation from Dr. King’s speeches and works.

Another challenge to find the right words can be found in another new addition to the National Mall. What quotations would students inscribe on the entrance to the National Museum of African American History and Culture?

Preserve Culture
Economics, Social Studies, U.S. History

It took two years and $29 million to renovate the Howard Theatre in D.C. From 1910 to early 1980, the stage hosted African American performers from Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington and to Ray Charles and Marvin Gaye. Speakers such as Booker T. Washington addressed crowds in the theater space.

The lobby ceiling was recreated and its plaster Corinthian columns were restored. Having been vacant, the theatre experienced water damage and deterioration. The project echoes the original design and adds state-of-the-art acoustics and video systems, a deeper stage and offices.

Read “Back for an encore: Historic Howard Theatre is set to reopen in a changed D.C. neighborhood.” In his Metro article, Paul Schwartzman utilizes the Hall Brothers Funeral Home and its personnel to provide:

• Location
• A metaphor
• Connection to a neighborhood and its character
• Anecdotes
• Contrast

Find examples of each of the above in the article.


Evaluate the Howard Theatre
Art, Economics, Social Studies, U.S. History 

Is the Howard Theatre historically significant?

In order to be historically significant a property must have high levels of integrity and be significant under one of the criteria for evaluation of the National Register. Local, state, and national levels of significance may be different; a property may be significant locally (perhaps a barn where defining town events happened) but not nationally (as it would have to be important to the shaping of the nation). When you use the word “significant” think historically significant and National Register.

Teachers might ask students the following questions after reading about the restoration of the Howard Theatre:

• In what ways does the Howard Theatre meet National Register criteria?

• Are theatres and performing arts spaces worth the investment to preserve?

• When should historic landmarks be sold for adaptive reuse (saving only the facades or bones of the structure) or development for contemporary needs (torn down)?


Maintain and Protect Culture
Art, English, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. History

The columnist has a voice, a particular perspective and audience. Metro columnists focus on the interests, needs and curiosity of residents. Years ago The Washington Post published a column by Bill Gold entitled The District Line. For 34 years, Gold wrote of local happenings and raised funds for Children’s Hospital. It was followed in 1971 by Bob Levey’s Washington and, currently, John Kelly’s Washington.

In his Metro column, John Kelly reports on what’s happening as well as give a history lesson, stimulate discussion and provide his personal perspective. Read three of his columns. What do students learn about D.C. — past and present — in each?

• “Why National Gallery’s East Building shed its pink marble skin,” February 22, 2012

• “Freedom follows a maintenance schedule,” April 29, 2012 

• “Glen Echo’s trash is one man’s treasure,” May 1, 2012


Meet the Radio Historian
Art, Economics, Social Studies, U.S. History

Individuals can save examples of a nation’s culture heritage through their hobbies. Meet J. David Goldin, “radio historian” as he prefers or collector of radios and radio broadcasts. This is the story of knowledge, generosity and irony. Read “The sleuth, the Babe and a radio mystery.”

Questions for discussion would include:

• What is the purpose of the National Archives?

• What has been Goldin’s relation to the National Archives?

• Explain Goldin’s comment: “To have the chief of the hen house stealing chickens, it is just disappointing.”

• Summarize Goldin’s discovery and involvement in solving the case.

• What was the extent of the theft?

Photographs of J. David Goldin and his collection of radios may be viewed online.


Do a Case Study
Economics, History, Government, U.S. History

Preservationists, Civil War buffs, a big box store, local landowners and county officials took different views of Walmart’s plans to build in Orange County, Virginia.

Teachers might begin with a map-reading exercise. On a Virginia map, locate Route 3 and Route 20, the Civil War Wilderness Battlefield and the Fredericksburg & Spotsylvania National Military Park. In this area the Civil War was fought and a 21st century legal skirmish took place.

Discuss with students whether they think it is more important to bring jobs to a community or preserve a portion of a Civil War battlefield. Those who believe employment is most important might be asked which companies and types of jobs they would favor. The battlefield preservationists might be asked to explain the values they support.

Established on February 14, 1927, the Wilderness Battlefield National Park is part of the Fredericksburg and Spotsylvania National Military Park, the second largest military park in the world. The National Park Service describes the Battle of the Wilderness, May 5-6, 1864, as the “beginning of the Overland Campaign, the bloodiest campaign in American history.”

Give students “Case Study: Walmart-Wilderness Battle.”  This classroom resource gives a summary of the case, including quotations from individuals who were involved.

The location for the proposed building is considered the gateway to the park. Questions for students to consider include:

• Should property rights or community rights prevail?

• Can Orange County afford to lose the taxes gained from commercial zoning?

• Do residents need jobs and close-to-home shopping or a battlefield and open spaces?

• Are tourists trying to escape Walmart and familiar retail places?

• Is “community” composed of those who live nearby or the nation?

• Should the memories be honored? Historian Douglas Southhall Freeman described the Wilderness battle as “war in inferno.” The armies suffered 29,000 casualties — killed, wounded, captured or missing. 

More background information may be found at the National Parks Conservation Association and Friends of Wilderness Battlefield.

The “Wilderness Battlefield” provides three images to be used as resources to discuss or debate the proposal. In addition, refer to maps of The Wilderness and proposed commercial development.

At the conclusion of discussion, share with students Walmart’s decision to withdraw its plans.

Read About Preservation

Ask Answer Man
English, Geography, History, Social Studies

Adaptive reuse saves buildings and other structures from demolition, preserves historic facades and revitalizes neighborhoods. Give students “Southern Aid, a snippet of black history, survives on edifice.” 

After discussing John Kelly’s Metro column, ask students if they are curious about the history of any older buildings. Make a list of the buildings. Review previous columns by Kelly to verify whether he has written about any of the buildings on your list. Read about these buildings. How do Kelly’s columns help readers to understand something of the history of the buildings and this area? Do they reveal what we did and continue to value?

Which buildings remain on your list? Ask each student to write a note and send questions to Be sure to be specific so Kelly knows why, where and for which building you seek information. 


Design for Adaptive Reuse
Art, Business, Economics, Government

Think of the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria or the High Line elevated park in New York City. Both are examples of adaptive reuse. The Tate Modern in London was once an oil-fired power station. The residences of Gasometer City in Vienna, Austria, for more than 100 years were four cylindrical gas plants. In D.C. parts of Georgetown Park were a tobacco warehouse, stables for the omnibus line and a machine shop for streetcars.

Teachers should explain what adaptive reuse is and discuss why it takes place. Examples of adaptive reuse are found in Durham, N.C., and the Department of the Interior program for the adaptive reuse of tobacco barns. Its economic impact may be illustrated with the Maryland Rehabilitation Tax Credit for Historic Buildings.

The National Portrait Gallery is a stunning example of adaptive reuse. Opening in 1840 as the Patent Office Building, it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as a National Historic Landmark. Praised by Walt Whitman as “the noblest of Washington buildings,” it has survived through several uses.

Give students “National Portrait Gallery: Adaptive Reuse" to provide an overview of the building. Online, a dauguerreotype, Smithsonian Institute historic photograph and Library of Congress images illustrate its varied uses.

Have students compare and evaluate uses of land and buildings. To guide the proposal process, give students “Propose an Adaptive Reuse."  

If teachers prefer to focus on the area around the Nationals ballpark, give students maps to review. This area of D.C. is undergoing change as the baseball team attracks locals and visitors. What adaptive reuse would students propose?


Celebrate Preservation
Economics, History, Journalism, Social Studies, U.S. History

May is National Preservation Month. After introducing students to the concept of preservation, ask them to brainstorm ways their class, school and community might celebrate preservation.

Discussion could begin with two different types of preservation — Woodlawn and Federal Courthouses and Post Offices: Symbols of Pride and Permanence in American Communities. 

Whether living in an “old” or a “young” country, the citizens of all countries need to consider the legacy left to following generations. In America, the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, often abbreviated NHPA or NHPA 1966 (16 USC 470, addresses preservation on the government level. As explained by the National Trust, NHPA is the “primary federal law governing the preservation of cultural and historic resources in the United States. The law establishes a national preservation program and a system of procedural protections which encourage the identification and protection of cultural and historic resources of national, state, tribal and local significance.”


Get to Know Glen Echo Park
Cartography, History, Photography, U.S. History

The National Park Service provides Teaching with Historical Places (TwHP) lesson plans with teacher materials and activities. “Glen Echo Park: Center for Education and Recreation” focuses on a Maryland location that has been a gathering place for more than 100 years.  A chapter in the Chautauqua movement, a trolley park and now a national park, Glen Echo offers opportunity to study changes in education, recreation and social interaction in the late 19th and 20th centuries.

John Kelly often includes local history in his five-times-a-week column, John Kelly’s Washington. “Glen Echo’s trash is one man’s treasure,” May 1, 2012, relates a gift that was not kept. For a close-up photograph of the streetcar and excerpt from John Kelly’s column, review “Glen Echo Park Streetcar.” 

Visit the Glen Echo Park Web site for information about current programs.


Survey D.C. Alley Structures
Economics, English, History, Social Studies, Technology

The Historic Preservation Office of D.C. is conducting an effort to survey and document alley structures in Washington’s historic districts. In 2011, field documentation and photography of important buildings and features as well as research on historic building permits and maps began. When catalogued in a database, and mapped through the Geographic Information System (GIS), residents, preservationists and historians will be able to make better informed decisions for alley buildings and to design new alley structures that are compatible with the character of historic alleyscapes.

Teachers might consider conducting a survey of alleys, back roads or neighborhoods near your school. Use online and library resources to document the study.


Celebrate the Trolley
Economics, History, Social Studies

In addition to news articles, The Washington Post includes features that reflect on the lifestyles, technology and economy of previous times. “Clang! went the trolley,” a Metro article by Ashley Halsey III, reports on January 28, 1962, when the trolleys ceased running in D.C.

• What details tell the story of the last ride?

• In what ways is the streetcar to Glen Echo Park a snapshot of race relations in D.C.?

• Relate how the demise of the streetcar is a story of economics and business?

• This story is more than nostalgia. What is the news peg?


Visit Landmarks and Historic Districts
Geography, History, U.S. History

The National Park Service clearly explains, “The National Register of Historic Places is the official list of the Nation’s historic places worthy of preservation. Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the National Park Service’s National Register of Historic Places is part of a national program to coordinate and support public and private efforts to identify, evaluate, and protect America’s historic and archeological resources.”

Go online to find places near you. In D.C., find the D.C. Inventory of Historic Sites

In Maryland the Maryland Historical Trust provides ordinances, maps and information on preserving a variety of historic places, cemeteries and monuments.

The Virginia Department of Historic Resources includes archaeology, education, regional offices and features the Historic Virginia Site of the Month. Places near you may be found in the Virginia Landmarks Register by jurisdiction.



Be Neighborly
Economics, Journalism, Social Studies

Not all preservation projects involve agencies and grants. Some involve citizens being good neighbors and volunteering their time and talent. Read “Aided by ‘an army of angels’” to meet Mary Holley and those who restored her home as part of “Christmas in April” in St. Mary’s County, Md.

As volunteers add fresh paint and other enhancements to spruce up an elderly couple’s St. Mary’s home, what did they and readers learn?

• What role in local history did the Holley home play?

• How does this kind of restoration help a neighborhood as well as individuals?

• Why would individuals get involved in these projects?


Post NIE Guide Editor | Carol Lange

Post NIE Guide Art Editor | Carol Porter

In The Know 
Adaptive Reuse   Conversion of properties for a new function while maintaining the historical significance; for example, factories and warehouses take on different functions as art galleries, restaurants and private dwellings  
Conserve Protect from loss or harm; spend or use sparingly and wisely
Context Historic, environmental or human situation that provides information about, understanding of, and value to objects
Housing Holding or storing a collection of items to document, preserve, exhibit; storing in a clean, orderly and climatically controlled environment
Integrity The authenticity of a property’s historic identity, evidenced by the survival of physical characteristics that existed during the property’s historic or prehistoric period.

Act or process of applying measures necessary to sustain the existing form, integrity and materials of an historic property.

Reconstruction Act or process of depicting, by means of new construction, the form, features and detailing of a non-surviving site, landscape, building, structure or object for the purpose of replicating its appearance at a specific period of time and in its historic location
Rehabilitation Act or process of making possible a compatible use for a property through repair, alterations and additions while preserving those portions or features which convey its historical, cultural or architectural values
Restoration Act or process of accurately depicting the form, features and character of a property as it appeared at a particular period of time by means of the removal of features from other periods.
Survey Gather information necessary to prepare for treatment, rehousing, moves and other activities that may occur on a large scale
Viewshed Analysis of the effects of a project: Will the view from or to a property be adversely affected by this change?
District of Columbia Public Schools Academic Content Standards 

Social Studies: Students analyze important events and trends in the 1960s and 1970s.

2. List and identify the major components of Johnson’s Great Society programs: aid to education, attack on disease, Medicare, urban renewal, beautification, conservation, the war on poverty, crime prevention, and removal of obstacles to the right to vote (11.12  Cold War America to the New Millennium, 1947-2001)


English: Formulate original, open-ended questions to explore a topic of interest; design and carry out research. (11.R.1)


Science: Explain that technology is essential to science for such purposes as measurement, data collection, graphing and storage, computation, communication and assessment of information, and access to outer space and other remote locations. (Science and Technology, Grade 6, 6.2 Broad Concept 2)


Learning Standards for DCPS are found online at

Maryland Academic Content Standards 

Social Studies: Identify and explain land use issues that illustrate the conflict between economic growth and using the environment. (Geography, Standard 3, Topic D, Grade 8)


Social Studies: Select and use informal writing strategies, such as short/response/essay answer/brief constructed responses, journal writing, note taking, and graphic organizers, to clarify, organize, remember, and/or express new understandings. (Social Studies Skills and Processes, Standard 6, Topic B, Grade 8)


Government: The student will examine regulatory agencies and their social, economic, and political impact on the country, a region, or on/within a state. (4.1.3, Goal 4 Economics)


The Maryland Voluntary State Curriculum Content Standards can be found online at

Virginia Academic Content Standards 

Civics & Economics: The student will demonstrate knowledge of how public policy is made at the local, state, and national levels of government

b) describing how individuals and interest groups influence public policy (CE.9)


United States History: The student will demonstrate knowledge of the key domestic and international issues during the second half of the twentieth and early twenty-first centuries by

c) identifying representative citizens from the time period who have influenced America scientifically, culturally, academically, and economically (US11.9)


Visual Arts: The student will describe the effects that works of art have on groups, individuals, and cultures. (AIII.29, Aesthetics)


Visual Arts: The student will critically view the quality and expressive form of works of art as a source of inspiration and insight and as a potential contribution to personal works of art. (AIV.25, Judgment and Criticism)


Standards of Learning currently in effect for Virginia Public Schools can be found online at