Economic Impacts and Historic Preservation

(By Andy Sewell, originally posted March 15, 2012)

The Southern Theatre in Columbus, Ohio, which also houses the Westin Hotel. The Southern Theatre opened in 1896 and was renovated in 1998

Historic preservation can be a very effective tool in strengthening communities, especially in a time of economic hardship and social change. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP) recently released a report on the economic impacts of historic preservation. It’s well worth the read. Some of the key points to consider:

  • Information on the relationship between historic preservation and economic impact is presented, although the authors note a general need for more data regarding jobs, property values, heritage tourism, environmental  data, and downtown revitalization efforts
  • While efforts are being made to collect this data at local and state levels, a coordinated research effort is needed on a nationwide scale
  • In addition to economic impacts, social benefits such as increases in community cohesion and quality of life should be considered
  • Revitalization of America’s small towns through programs such as Main Street ( brings a renewed focus on the local community and small businesses.

The ACHP’s study shows that while multiple efforts are being made to study the impact of historic preservation, further work is required to fully assess, document, and present the true economic benefits of historic preservation to our communities.

The ACHP’s report can be downloaded by clicking the following link, which will begin an automatic download of the PDF document: