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Author Topic: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?  (Read 387 times)

inkyatari

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What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« on: May 03, 2019, 09:22:10 AM »

Got into a polite discussion on Facebook - polite discussions on facebook bening anything but the norm - about historic buildings.

There's an abandoned house in rural Illinois that Lincoln supposedly slept in, and it got me wondering what exactly constitutes something - in this case a house - as being historic.  Sure Lincoln slept here, but did he do anything noteworthy here? There must be several dozen places he slept in
 Illinois.  Does that alone make something historic?  What constitutes something being historic? Does a famous person just going there make it so, or do they actually have to do something historic at said place?
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webny99

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #1 on: May 03, 2019, 10:10:45 AM »

I would say history has to be made at a location for it to be considered historic. If nothing that is of significance to us, today, happened there, it probably wouldn't qualify. "Old" and "historic" aren't really synonyms.
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roadman

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #2 on: May 03, 2019, 10:40:44 AM »

I would say history has to be made at a location for it to be considered historic. If nothing that is of significance to us, today, happened there, it probably wouldn't qualify. "Old" and "historic" aren't really synonyms.

"Historic" is one of the most overused and mis-applied terms, especially when used to describe current and/or trivial events.  As my best friend, who was a History major, often says:  'Most old things are just that.  Old things."
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kalvado

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #3 on: May 03, 2019, 12:48:11 PM »

Historic  is pretty much a synonym of old in NY.
A symbolic location:

https://www.google.com/maps/@42.8653722,-73.7697027,3a,59.2y,346.05h,91.33t/data=!3m6!1e1!3m4!1sp-P65mNv_U7wsveu-LfCoQ!2e0!7i13312!8i6656

A plaque saying this is oh-so-important right next to "firefighters do not enter" red cross on 3 buildings in a row.

There was an article in a local newspaper, they described a quite absurd situation:
Developer bought a "historic" house after a fire; but preservation rules played a dirty joke: since facade was relatively intact, it could not be disturbed; all materials and equipment would have to be brought in by hand through the small entrance door. Developer chosen to abandon the project and let property rot. But historic facade is not modified - it will likely collapse in its original form.

I am OK with designating something old as historic, as long as there is funding behind the designation to keep those things in a shape. Even if this means demolishing 95% of old stuff just to keep that one block as an example of how things looked back then.
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hbelkins

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #4 on: May 03, 2019, 01:08:05 PM »

A number of old truss bridges are deemed as "eligible for inclusion on the National Register of Historic Places." That causes several issues whenever it's time to replace one of them. In many cases, "historic" does indeed seem to be a synonym for "old.""
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thspfc

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #5 on: May 03, 2019, 05:40:51 PM »

If it has existed for 100+ years and has a somewhat interesting story, it's pretty much eligible for the NRHP. This isn't a bad thing IMO, because it preserves character of cities and states.
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english si

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #6 on: May 04, 2019, 06:23:35 AM »

This is what wikipedia says under the 'historic' criteria for listed buildings (also counts for bridges) in England and Wales. There's also aesthetic, rarity, and significance criteria.
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All buildings erected before 1700 that "contain a significant proportion of their original fabric" will be listed. Most buildings built between 1700 and 1840 are listed. After 1840 more selection is exercised and "particularly careful selection" is applied after 1945. Buildings less than 30 years old are rarely listed unless they are of outstanding quality and under threat.

The other criteria mean that young buildings can be listed - eg this one, listed three years ago before it was even 20 years old (ironically with a higher listing than the 120+ year-old building it controversially demolished!).
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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #7 on: May 04, 2019, 03:58:45 PM »

"Historic downtown" just means it's old, it's a part of history that still exists.  In the extreme, anything that exists and wasn't just made is historic, because it's a part of history.  That extreme makes the word meaningless.

What makes something historic depends on the scale.  An old store downtown is historic to the town, and to people who shopped there long ago, but it doesn't have any significance to national history.  The larger the scale considered, the more important a thing needs to be in order to be historic.  A place where Lincoln stayed overnight is a historic place for that area, but unless something important happened, it isn't worthy of note on a larger scale.  I think the question shouldn't be whether or not an old thing is historic, but at what level.  The house I lived in decades ago is historic to me, but maybe not to anyone else.  I would figure that it's easier to get into a state register than the national register.  "To how many people is this historic?"  That should be the question.
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ClassicHasClass

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Re: What constitutes something as being "Historic"?
« Reply #8 on: May 04, 2019, 05:37:27 PM »

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This isn't a bad thing IMO

I agree it's not a bad thing per se, but then local boards may make unreasonable requests about its upkeep or restrictions on its maintenance to preserve said alleged "historic" character. I like history as much as the next guy, possibly more, but there comes a limit in some circumstances.
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