National Preservation Month 2012

Discover GSA’s Hidden GemsBeth L. Savage, Director of the PBS Center for Historic Buildings and GSA’s Federal Preservation Officer

Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
Birch Bayh Federal Building and U.S. Courthouse
Indianapolis, Indiana

May is National Preservation Month and the 2012 theme is “Discover America’s Hidden Gems.” As steward of a public building legacy that includes monumental buildings prominently located in downtowns across the country, GSA might at first glance appear an unlikely place to uncover hidden gems. However, there is a rich variety in our inventory of 478 historic buildings. As we progress through Preservation Month, I encourage you to celebrate and share the stories of our less traveled historic places.

Every three years, PBS reports on the agency’s historic building stewardship successes and challenges. The case studies highlighted in Extending the Legacy 2011 [PDF - 10 MB] emphasize our far-reaching ability to infuse community vitality through sound preservation policy, process and best practices. At the U.S. Border Inspection Station in San Ysidro, California, in response to public consultation, new inspection lanes were configured so that the Spanish Colonial Revival custom house will now be reused and rehabilitated as a welcome center. Acquired as part of the Montgomery, Alabama, courthouse expansion, a small Greyhound bus station where mob violence galvanized the civil rights movement has reopened to the public as the Freedom Riders Museum. And in Grand Junction, Colorado, consultation informed integrated preservation and energy-saving opportunities at the Wayne Aspinall U.S. Courthouse, which is targeted to become the agency’s first net zero building.

Montgomery Bus Station
Freedom Riders Museum at former Greyhound bus station
Montgomery, Alabama

These gems, and many others, demonstrate that historic preservation uses and reuses finite resources wisely. It is inherently sustainable, cost-effective, innovative and highly adaptable. Among my greatest rewards as federal preservation officer are the visionary solutions that emerge from our challenges. As we continue to refine and enhance our stewardship program we are committed to bringing positive preservation outcomes to America’s communities—and their treasured places.

Check out PBS’s Historic Building Poster Series and go to the Historic Buildings Database for a complete look at our 478 historic properties.

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