Layers: Significance, Heritage and the Complex Historic Place
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Type of Work190 pages
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
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Historic preservation -- Theses
This study uses the Erie Canal Village (ECV), an outdoor heritage museum located in Rome, New York, as a case study. Intended to become an economic development tool for the city, it is now privately owned and threatened by neglect, although several layers of history and heritage are present at the site. This study also addresses how to approach a complex historic site with varying levels of significance assigned to each historic layer, in order that it receive the recognition and protection needed. Like other layered sites, geography was a factor in the presence of human use of the ECV site for transportation, defense, and then heritage activities. An analytical framework includes the evaluation of heritage and heritage tourism as it relates to the site, where history is both present and presented. Discussion includes the determination of which layer of the site’s history matters most. Analysis of current methods of evaluating historic and/or culturally significant places compares current American and Australian systems to determine which approach is more appropriate for a complicated, layered site and provides a broader application of protection and recognition. Understanding a layered historic place like the ECV will assist other historians and preservationists in coping with similarly complicated sites. The ECV layer is the only layer of the site that possesses local and state significance, while all of the other layers present at the site possess national levels of significance. I conclude that this layer, if protected and properly maintained, will continue to provide protection to the remaining historical layers present at the site. The presence of the village buildings, in effect, protects the historic layers at ground level, as well as the site’s undiscovered archeological resources.