24 Jun Musings from the Library of Congress
These past couple of weeks settling into work at the National Register and life in D.C. has been eventful to say the least. Work has kept me busy, researching, reading and sifting through various architectural styles and forms – learning more about specific barn styles, bridges, and some architectural styles that I frankly did not even know about. I mean, who knew there were amazing barn structures that were historically significant and actually listed on the National Register?? Not I. Though research has its moments to waver between tedious and interesting, I can honestly say I have learned quite a lot in the past of couple weeks. I cannot walk down the street in peace anymore. Now when I walk the streets of D.C. I’m totally captivated by the various architectural styles that surround me and I’m amazed that I can name most of them at first glance. I learned these years ago in architecture school, but balancing studio, workload, and a hint of a life some things just escape you. I am happy to say it’s close to riding a bicycle – everything starts coming back to you eventually.
This week I was able to explore the Library of Congress as my research efforts and lack to uncover a few, rare architectural styles led me to investigating the library’s resources. What an amazing experience! I was able to apply for my free reader’s card and explore the building to my heart’s content; well, the parts I was allowed access I should say. The reading room was my office on Wednesday and I was able to discover a few helpful books. I must say it might be my new favorite working environment in the city!
Along with my database project, I was fortunate to receive three nominations this week from my supervisor and given leeway to comment and decipher them through my perspective. Very interesting and dare I say tricky – just because something is old does not mean it should be listed on the National Register, and within that, just because it has some significance, it may have too much damage to actually be a worthwhile listing. This is the real learning curve, going through these nominations and also sitting on weekly meetings with the board and hearing issues they encounter while undertaking many of these nominations. Already I have learned so much from their insight about what they look for in well-crafted nominations as well as the trouble spots to look for when reading through the reports and deciding whether or not a nomination should be eligible for listing. Overall they want to see properties and structures listed, so they do put forth a lot of effort, time and interest into seeing the nominations through to the end, and they will do what they can to help the State Historic Preservation Officers (SHPOs) or those nominating these resources to enhance or best tweak their nominations to have a better chance of making the eligibility cut. It is a long process and very time consuming, but in the end knowing you have worked with somebody to add a culturally or historically relevant resource to the National Register and given more reason to advocate for those resources just through it being listed is reward enough.