education Historic Preservation People Regionalism

This Week in Preservation Education

On March 13 and 14, I was fortunate to take part in an interesting architectural education program involving students from O’Fallon High School (Illinois). The 10th grade honors geometry and art students — led by teachers Kelly Wamser and Debbie Raboin — are studying and researching historic St. Louis buildings and architecture with the aid of the St. Louis Building Arts Foundation. The program this week came about through the excellent work of Lynn Josse.

The goals of the program include research, photography, presentations and — most interesting — 3-d scale models of buildings being studied. The students toured various buildings downtown and midtown with Lynn and historian Mimi Stiritz, and studied information put together by their teachers and Foundation volunteers. At lunchtime both days, the students came to City Hall where I spoke in the Kennedy Room about my work with Landmarks Association of St. Louis and how preservationists are actually architects of the future.

Programs like this are the backbone of effective historic preservation efforts. Without public education, our ideas will never become widespread. That education must be geared toward those young people nearly at the brink of lives spent shaping the world. Notable also is the great collaboration in the effort — two architectural advocacy organizations, a Metro East school, several building owners and St. Louis city government coming together to make something happen shows that at least some people get the “big picture” and are willing to share that view.

I look forward to seeing how these efforts transfer into the students’ work, this year and beyond.