The leadership role of historical societies in main street programs
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Type of Work149 p.
ProgramMA in Historic Preservation
RightsTo view a complete copy of this manuscript please contact Goucher College Special Collections & Archives at firstname.lastname@example.org or (410) 337-6075.
SubjectsHistoric districts -- Case studies.
Historic districts -- Conservation and restoration.
Historic preservation -- Theses
Historical societies are currently facing a critical juncture in their institutional lives. They are increasingly striving to remain relevant and meaningful to their communities while honoring their missions. One of the best ways for most historical societies to support their local communities is by becoming prominent players in the economic revitalization efforts of their historic downtowns. This thesis undertakes an examination of the ways that historical societies can become leaders in their local Main Street programs. Four possible leadership roles that historical societies can assume in Main Street programs are explored: catalyst for revitalization, partner in the Main Street effort, resource for Main Street, and parent organization for Main Street. The thesis is organized in three sections. The first section examines the history of historical societies and the Main Street program; their missions, organizational structure, and typical activities are examined in detail. The second sections includes case studies that are used to describe the experiences of three historical societies that have been directly involved in the leadership of the Main Street programs of their communities. It also includes the results of surveys conducted of both historical society and Main Street leaders to illustrate typical organizational structures, activities, and attitudes for both historical societies and Main Street organizations. The third section analyzes the case studies and draws comparisons between the case studies, survey results and literature. This research shows that it is essential for historical societies to assume a leadership role in their local Main Street programs. Their leadership provides benefits to the society, the Main Street program, and ultimately the community as a whole. The best ways for historical societies to take a leadership position in Main Street efforts are as catalyst, resource, and partner. Establishing a Main Street program within a historical society organization, however, is not a model that was discovered, and poses challenges too great to recommend without further research. Historical societies must understand that becoming engaged in their communities and promoting positive change that improves the quality of life for local residents is imperative if they are to remain sustainable and relevant organizations in the twenty-first century. With the historic preservation goals and the challenges posed by limited resources shared by both historical societies and Main Street Programs, becoming leaders in local Main Street Programs is an ideal way for historical societies to become more active in the community, maximize limited resources, and improve their ability to achieve their stated mission and goals.