What is gained by preserving the old rather than moving on to something new? In contemplating the restoration of an old building or saving a historic site, questions such as these may come to mind. There are many different reasons for undertaking a project of historic preservation, with benefits accruing to both individuals and the community as a whole.
Preserving historic places and structures can be of great value to the community. It is a way of creating an environment that the public can enjoy and take pride in. Preservation makes the community more attractive and adds character and individuality. This can attract business and tourism from other areas, and provide a common ground or interest which can be shared by everyone.
Historic preservation can also do much to improve the quality of life in a community. The core areas of modern cities are often left to decay while the population moves to outlying areas. Restoring old buildings can reduce the problems of urban growth, including the deterioration of inner cities and the accompanying crime.
The homes and businesses of the inner town are often some of the most charming and unique structures in the city. Restoration can be more economically practical than constructing new buildings. Owners of historically significant structures may also be eligible for tax incentives or grants.
Finally, historic preservation preserves our cultural and historical past. Preserving and maintaining aspects of our past, whether it is home, a barn, a church or a tree allows us to maintain a sense of continuity and relationship with the past. It lets us view the changes that have taken place against a backdrop of what has gone before. This helps us to appreciate where we are in time, to understand how we got here, and perhaps to decide where we should be going.
Salem Preservation Society Mission Statement is to “Preserve architecturally and historically significant sites, objects, and landscapes in the Salem area, and to promote educational, artistic and cultural activities that will increase community awareness of the importance of the preservation of Salem’s heritage.”