Focusing on history, believing in preservation, in a tornado’s wake
To wade into the newly inflicted chaos of a tornado fully focused on historic preservation – that is, to dive headlong into the critical moment, with an eye toward the span of community history – takes something rare and special.
It takes something, perhaps, like the campus’s still-new Historic Preservation Graduate Program, which has been awarded the second annual Preservation Massachusetts “Community Spirit Award” for the efforts of its students following June’s tornadoes in documenting historic damage in Springfield.
The program, which blurs the boundaries of art, architecture, history, and good old-fashion sleuthing, has very quickly establishing a trail-blazing reputation for undertaking projects across the Commonwealth, projects in which its students are not afraid to get their hands dirty. In October, the program became the only degree-granting preservation program to be voted into the National Council of Preservation Education,
Professor of Architecture and History Max Page notes that the Community Spirit Award, which was presented Nov. 10 at an event titled “Believing in Preservation” at the Basketball Hall of Fame, is especially meaningful because it recognizes the program’s growing identity and focus on public resources and community history.
“It is a wonderful piece of recognition and perfectly in line with the hope of our program, to serve the state in the protection and interpretation of historic places,” said Page.
In making the award, Preservation Massachusetts was particularly eager to throw the spotlight on an effort that might energize others, according to organization president James W. Igoe.
“Through tireless work, dedication and experiences, the University of Massachusetts Historic Preservation Graduate Program is a wonderful source of inspiration and a role model for others taking on preservation challenges in their own community,” Igoe wrote in announcing the honor.
“We are continually reminded,” he added, “that preservation is not just about buildings. It is about people.”
This message is from Erin Kelly of Preservation Massachusetts:
First of all, thanks to you all for your willingness to volunteer in assisting the tornado affected communities in western and central Massachusetts! PM staff has had the chance to visit both Monson and Springfield to see the damage first hand and it is truly incredible. We have pictures on our Flickr site if anyone is interested in seeing them, along with some maps our Western MA Circuit Rider Michele Barker has created from her own tours of the area.
We have spent the past week trying to coordinate local logistics, while waiting for another conference call with FEMA and other agencies to find out some of their next steps. With the President’s disaster declaration yesterday, FEMA and other federal aid will begin to mobilize
In terms of next steps and timelines, we are working to get volunteers started in the field late next week, most likely in Springfield first. When we have a final date, I will send an email out to all volunteers with the date, time and locations for this first field day and those who can assist that day will be deployed. These volunteers will be filling our Rapid Building and Site Assessment Forms (http://ncptt.nps.gov/pdf/Rapid_Building_Site_Assessment.pdf ) that will be turned into FEMA for inclusion in a disaster database that will help them. These forms and information will also be used to help local communities identify further needs in terms of assesment, restoration work, etc.
We will repeat this process again in Springfield, due to the size of the city and amount of damage, and also for other communities such as Monson, Wilbraham, West Springfield, etc.
We have also had some requests for immediate specialized assistance, for example, historic graveyards. If you have a specialty, we may email you directly and ask your direct assistance with a community.
I thank you for your patience during this period of logistical organization in our efforts going forward. We had over 80 people volunteer, a truly remarkable outcome and a testament to the caliber of professionals working in this field.
Many thanks and please feel free to email me with any questions or concerns.