Six Practical Reasons To Save Old Buildings


Historic or heritage sites are the physical expression of a city’s identity. The lived-in architecture, the strategic locations, & the uses of these buildings reveal quality stories that tell how a thành phố came khổng lồ be & offer predictions of where it might be going. These features add character and beauty to lớn a city, fostering a sense of trang chủ and community, and serving as a reminder khổng lồ each of us that a city’s history belongs to all of us together. Just as these magnificent buildings have been passed down to lớn us, we must preserve them for future generations.

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People in Littleton seehistoric preservation not onlyas a means of saving buildingsbut identifying and holdinga sense of place.

~ Robert McQuarie,Littleton’s First History Museum Directorand Historian from 1969–1996

Rocky Mountain News, October 21, 1978. Photo, courtesy of the Littleton Museum Collection. May not be reproduced in any form without permission of the Littleton Museum.

Six Practical Reasons to Save Old Buildings

This section is adopted from the “National Trust for Historic Preservation/Saving Places” by Julia Rocchi và the “Old House Life” by Michele Bowers with additions by Rick Cronenberger.

What is historic and worth saving varies in the eye of the beholder, but some definition is urgent. Simply put, “historic” means “old & worth the trouble.” It applies to lớn a building that’s part of a community’s tangible past. And though it may surprise cynics, old buildings can offer opportunities for a community’s future. The following six reasons examine both the cultural và practical values of old buildings & look at why preserving them is beneficial not only for Littleton’s’ culture but also for its local economy và future identity.


1. Old buildings have intrinsic value; they have a story

Buildings, by their very nature, are not time capsules. They often change over time through periods of use and various occupants. Architecture is a direct and substantial representation of history và place. By preserving historic structures, we can giới thiệu the very spaces và environments in which the generations before us lived.


Historic buildings often reveal the human side of building construction, with each imperfection và design detail evident throughout. While museums và historic sites have their place, a building that is used & cared for is the first building block for its preservation. Not everyone expects a historic building to be used for its original purpose, but instead that it is just being used.

Above, Main Street, Littleton. Below, 2676 West main St. Bussard Motor Company.


2. Old buildings save money and materials

Buildings of a certain era, namely pre-World War II, tend to lớn be built with higher-quality materials such as rare hardwoods (especially heart pine) & wood from old-growth forests that no longer exist.

Prewar buildings were also built by different standards. A century-old building most likely has better “bones” than its brand-new counterparts. Just the fact that they are still standing or being used is testament to lớn their community value. Littleton’s restoration of the Arapahoe CountyCourthouse is a prime example.

Preservation also contributes lớn sustainability–after all, the greenest building is an existing building.

Poster image Preservation reusing America energy, 1980. National Trust for Historic Preservation.


3. New businesses prefer old buildings

Adaptive reuse of historic structures allows many businesses to use space that is authentically pleasing compared to lớn modern-day boxes. In 1961, urban activist Jane Jacobs startled đô thị planners with The Death and Life of Great American Cities, in which she discussed economic advantages that certain types of businesses have when located in older buildings.


Jacobs asserts that new buildings make sense for major chain stores, but other businesses—such as bookstores, ethnic restaurants, antique stores, neighborhood pubs, và especially small start-ups thrive in old buildings. That is still the case today. Look at how Downtown Littleton has thrived in the past trăng tròn years since the Main Street Historic District was established.

Before và after pictures of the Shelly Service Station,on 2609 Main Street.

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Examples of adaptive reuses include:

O The ViewHouse restaurant rehabilitated the 1929 Bussard Motor Company building, và the owners saved as much of the original interior building materials as possible.O The Jackass Hill Brewery inhabits the Van Schaak và Company building và takes advantage of the horizontal lines & vertical windows in the Mid-Century Modern location.O Palenque (formerly Meryl’s) incorporates the entire original 1930s Shelly Service Station, embedded within the middle of the restaurant.
As for really new ideas of any kind – no matter howultimately profitable or otherwise successful some of them might prove khổng lồ be – there is no leeway for such chancy trial, error & experimentation in the high – overhead economy of the new construction. Old Ideas can sometimes usenew buildings. New ideas must use old buildings.

~ Jane Jacobs, From The Life & Deathof Great American Cities, 1961.

4. Old buildings have character,attract people, và bring in new generations

Is it the warmth of the materials? The heart pine, marble, or old brick? The smell or the resonance of other people và other activities? Whatever it is, older buildings are just more interesting.

The different levels, the vestiges of other uses, the awkward corners, và the mixtures of styles offer something to lớn talk about at the very least. America’s downtown revivals suggest that people lượt thích old buildings. Whether the feeling is patriotic, homey, warm, or reassuring, older architecture tends lớn fit the bill. People gravitate to archaic building materials that show aging và weathering.

Regardless of how they actually spend their lives, Americans prefer lớn picture themselves living around old buildings. Eyes may glaze over when preservationists talk about “historic building stock,” but what they really mean is a community’s inventory of old buildings ready to lớn fulfill new uses.

Above, 2489 W. Main Coors Bldg., Cast Iron, Corithian Column. Below, WWW parade.

5. Old buildings are reminders of a city’s culture & complexity

By seeing historic buildings — whether related lớn something famous or recognizably dramatic — tourists & longtime residents can witness the aesthetic and cultural history of an area. Just as banks prefer to build stately, old-fashioned façades, even when located in commercial malls, a đô thị needs old buildings to lớn maintain a sense of permanency và heritage.

In Western Cities such as Littleton, whose history begins after the Industrial Revolution, our remaining buildings are like a book & each chapter tells a different story. Through architecture, the book covers the beginnings with Richard Little, the post-World War II industrial manufacturing era of Coleman Motors, & the 1950s khổng lồ 1960s space age era & appropriate Mid-Century Modern Commercial architecture. The architecture all represents new frontiers, and the story continues to lớn this day as Littleton continues to lớn grow.

Above, Columbine Mill. Below, industry buildings on Rio Grande Street by Regal Plastics, Coleman.

6. Losing our historic buildings means losing our unique Littleton identity.

The preservation of historic buildings is a one-way street. There is no chance to renovate or khổng lồ save a historic site once it is gone—it cannot be replaced. It is not just the physical building that is lost, but the sense of place, the original craftsmanship và materials, the smell and feeling, và our own individual emotional attachment to lớn the past. Historic preservation gives identity lớn our city.

Historic resources are non-renewable, & we can never be certain which buildings and resources will be valued in the future unless they are surveyed and evaluated. This reality brings to light the importance of identifying, locating, & saving buildings of historic significance, because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.

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Historic resources are non-renewable, và we can never be certain which buildings và resources will be valued in the future unless they are surveyed và evaluated. This reality brings to lớn light the importance of identifying, locating, & saving buildings of historic significance, because once a piece of history is destroyed, it is lost forever.