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The Politics of Historic Districts


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Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction: What D'ya Know? Chapter 2 1. Before You Take Another Step Chapter 3 2. Thinking Politically about Historic District Designation Chapter 4 3. How It Starts Chapter 5 4. A Walk through the Designation Process Chapter 6 5. On Planning and Strategy Chapter 7 6. Our Strategic Line: A Community in/ within Conflict Chapter 8 7. Makers, Breakers, Takers, and Shapers: The Political Field of Play Chapter 9 8. Leadership and Organization Chapter 10 9. Working with Shapers Chapter 11 10. A Practical Vision Chapter 12 11. Thinking Politically about Design Guidelines Chapter 13 12. It's Personal Chapter 14 13. Sticks & Stones Chapter 15 14. The Campaign Kickoff Chapter 16 15. Community Meeting Arrangements Chapter 17 16. Your Community Presentation Chapter 18 17. FAQs: Frequently Asked Questions Chapter 19 18. Thinking Politically about Q&A: The Moving Pattern of Opponents' Challenges Chapter 20 19. Our Reframing Q&A Strategy Chapter 21 20. Answering Opposition Questions I: From "Distrust of Them" to the "Pivotal Shift" Chapter 22 21. Answering Opposition Questions II: From the "Pivotal Shift" to "Distrust of Us" Chapter 23 22. Skirmishing with Radical Property Rightists Chapter 24 23. Petition Politics Chapter 25 24. Reaching Out to the Opposition Chapter 26 25. Moving on to City Hall Chapter 27 26. Behind-the-Scenes Intelligence Chapter 28 27. Working with the Press Chapter 29 28. A Civic Vision Chapter 30 29. The Politics of Public Hearings Chapter 31 30. A Conversation with a Lobbyist Chapter 32 31. A Checklist for One-on-One Meetings Chapter 33 32. Our Public Hearing Presentation Chapter 34 33. The Politics of Compromise Chapter 35 34. Winning the Vote

About the Author

Bill Schmickle currently chairs the Annapolis Historic Preservation Commission and was a cofounder of the Oak Ridge, NC, Historic District. He and his wife, Charlotte, own and operate Flag House Inn in the Annapolis National Landmark Historic District. A former professor of political science, he now writes and consults on preservation issues.


Living with politics and historic preservation has always been unpredictable and controversial. This book will make it easier to navigate the treacherous path of creating a local historic district. Bill Schmickle's adventurous and often humorous approach to demystifying the citizen's journey is a must read for the seasoned or novice preservationist. -- Pratt Cassity, Director, Center for Community Design, Planning & Preservation at the University of Georgia
It's not enough to be passionate about protecting historic resources-you have to be strategic. This book is a great 'how-to' guide for the novice or even the experienced community activist. Bill Schmickle really zeroes in on what you can anticipate and how you can succeed. It is a 'must-read' for anyone who contemplates leading a citizen campaign for historic district status. -- Karen Gordon, Historic Preservation Officer, City of Seattle
Food for thought! What first appears to be an hors d'oeuvres tray of thirty-four quick-bite chapters turns out to be a deeply satisfying multi-course meal of substance and insight. Bill Schmickle has jumped out of the fire of his own historic districting experience to grab the handle of the political frying pan. Follow his practical and easy-to-read recipe and you too can blend the complex ingredients of political advocacy into a home-cooked feast of preservation success. -- Dan Becker, executive director, Raleigh Historic Districts Commission; former Chair, National Alliance of Preservation Commissions
One of preservations biggest threats is relying on the reactive approach. Bill details why this is not good preservation and then moves on to provide the tools to become a true preservationist who is passionate all the time, not just when the threat becomes public knowledge and front page news. . . . In those democratic systems that American cherish, there can be very little long term preservation without politics. This book could just as easily be called "When reality meets preservation!" -- Nita Parry, former Chair, City of Richmond Commission of Architectural Review and City of Richmond Urban Design Commission.
The Politics of Historic Districts would be a useful volume for any historic preservation commission's library. * The Commissioner *
'Think globally, act locally,' can have no more practical application than historical preservation. While virtually everyone favors preserving the best of the past for future generations in the abstract, putting concrete plans into action engenders some of the most basic political instincts and conflicts. While this well-written and lively book can effectively be used as a 'how to' manual for historic preservationists developed by someone who has been there in the trenches, it also provides a myriad of insights on the general topic of effective political activism. If nothing else, the book is worth it for the pithy quotes that begin its succinct 34 chapters. Its author brings a political scientist's perspective and a participant's passion to a policy realm where today's decisions clearly preclude future reversal. -- Stephen Frantzich, U.S. Naval Academy
This how-to guide gives citizens who are struggling to designate a local historic district the political wherewithal to gain the support of fellow residents and city hall. A former professor of political science, the author pushes preservationists to disregard the long-established conflicts between preservation and political action and points the way to a more comprehensive understanding of the politics that fashions local historic districts. * The Courier *
Through thirty-four brief, often lightly humorous, rapid-fire chapters, the author engages readers in the battles over historic zoning so they understand the necessary steps on a path to victory. They will learn how to engage in and use politics to good effect throughout the lengthy process of shaping sound public policy...If you decide to make a difference in preserving your community's sense of place, then decide to win by reading this book. You will be more than prepared for the fight. * AASLH History News *

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