That’s A Wrap — National Register Boot Camp

The program is coming to it’s end for me and although I am ecstatic to get home to my daughter and my husband, I look back on these past 9 (almost 10) weeks with such a varied scope – the natural ebb and flow mimics itself on every scale and with that come great lessons. I have definitely experienced some highs and lows throughout this process, but without that balance nothing worthwhile could be really be obtained. Before coming to Washington, DC, I had a very collegiate and almost holistic view of the National Register and what it encompassed. Then having this opportunity opened my eyes to the reality of the National Register. The fact that it is part of the National Park Service, under the jurisdiction of the Department of the Interior, means it a government agency with the usual red tape involved in just about everything. The process for review, with more regard to time constraints, is very rigid, and sometimes not very apologetic in that each nomination is given 45 days to have a turnaround response from the reviewers. With seven reviewers on the team, each having multiple state jurisdictions, means time can easily fly by and deadlines can have very real consequences. Having the opportunity to read and review nominations with my Supervisor was the most valuable experience, for me, as it gave me deeper insight into: 1) The actual review process 2) How to decipher what makes a good nomination versus a slack one 3) What fits the bill and proves a strong argument for significance (in areas of events, lives, architecture or archaeological findings) 4) When the group needs to convene and discuss issues regarding certain troublesome nominations This experience proved to be a real National Register boot camp and an amazing avenue for mentorship. Although my projects varied, it allowed me to gain a greater scope of insight into things that make the program what it is, as well as other departments that work together with the Register to realize projects and nominations. This summer I had a chance to reach out to various State Historic Preservation Offices to assist in my main project, the Section-7 Architectural Style and Form Guidelines update. I appreciated their insight and involvement as it provides for a more well-rounded and nationally representative guide. I found this project important in its ability to one day, hopefully, be a useful tool for underrepresented and diverse communities to participate in nominating listings. The fact that not everyone is versed in architecture and preservation, means that by all means they should have the necessary tools and language provided to them to better navigate through the process – one of which being an architectural guide to best distinguish architectural characteristics of structures, buildings, places, etc. If this tool can be completed to be web accessible it would be a beneficial improvement across the board at the local, state and national levels. There is mixed views on this, as some believe the Register should be just about architecture and others believe it should encompass the greater sweep of our nation’s built heritage made significant through the various means, not just limited to amazing architecture, but significant buildings and places and icons, such as the Guevavi Mission Ruins in Nogales, Santa Cruz County, Arizona, significant because of connection with Eusebio Francisco Kino, a Jesuit priest from Italy who worked in Mexico and Southern Arizona for the last 24 years of his life, primarily with indigenous tribes. These stories of historically and cultural significant places, events, lives and stories from our past are important and should have a fair chance at National Register listing if deemed applicable and relevant, it should not just be because of the craftwork of a master architect or because it is the highest of high architectural style. Don’t get me wrong, those things are important, and they are what gave birth to the Preservation Act in 1966 and this program, but everything evolves over time and so should our reasoning for designating nationally significant cultural resources. Having the ability to strike up constant dialogue with my Supervisor allowed for great and meaningful discussions on just about everything. In one of our conversations my interest in the Federal Historic Preservation Tax Incentives Program came to light. Of course, he immediately ran to a colleague of his in the program and set up a shadowing opportunity for me to gain hands-on insight into the inner workings of the tax credit department from the top down. That proved very worthwhile as well, having the opportunity to 1) review various tax credit applications through Part 1, 2, and 3, 2) sitting in on staff review meetings to see problematic issues and to see amazing examples of quality rehabilitations, 3) learning more about various state’s objectives with regard to tax credits. It has been great to pose questions and run through ideas and scenarios with different individuals in the cultural resource department and also in other sectors of the National Park Service. I have truly gained so much from this program, and it would not have been a possibility without the assistance of Hispanic Access Foundation and the available avenue of the Latino Heritage Internship Program. Having a family, expenses and responsibility leaves me little choice in being able to take on an internship, but through the assistance and this unique opportunity that was able to happen. And with it, I was able to take advantage of the amazing opportunities to meet with people I never would have, like National Register reviewers, Tax Credit reviewers, the Keeper of the Register, NPS Superintendents, Director Jarvis, Secretary Jewell, and many more inspiring individuals who have all shared much insight into the world of cultural and historic preservation.  

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