by Michael R. Allen
At the start of the new year, we will have a strong new ally for historic preservation in St. Louis: incoming Cultural Resources Office Director Betsy Bradley. Betsy comes to St. Louis from the Wyoming State Historic Preservation Office, but her urban credentials include seven years as a staffer to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Most importantly, Betsy gives the city a professional with extensive experience in cultural resources management, education and even publication. I have no doubt that Betsy will be a shot in the arm for city preservation efforts.
While not a native, Betsy already has some roots here: her husband is Jefferson National Expansion Memorial Superintendent Tom Bradley. I have had the chance to get to know Betsy in the last year and know her to be calm, thoughtful and inquisitive. Of course I was ecstatic when I learned that the Planning and Urban Design Agency chose Betsy for the Cultural Resources Office directorship. (That job most recently was held by the unflappable Kate Shea from 1989 through this July.)
A key strength that Betsy brings is having been a member of citizen preservation review boards like our Preservation Board. Betsy has served on the commissions in Shaker Heights, Ohio, and Taylors Falls, Minnesota. She understands the deliberative aspect to CRO’s decision making, often the source of conflict. Furthermore, Betsy has connected her cultural resources work to academic communities through teaching. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at Baltimore’s Goucher College, which offers a renowned distance-learning master’s degree in historic preservation. Formerly, Betsy taught at the University of St. Thomas, Ursuline College and Youngstown State University. Betsy will be able to connect work in St. Louis to a larger community of cultural resources professionals and aspiring professionals.
In addition to her impressive resume of service, Betsy is the author of The Works: The Industrial Architecture of the United States (Oxford University Press, 1999). Preservation of industrial resources is a big and unresolved challenge in St. Louis and its Rust Belt brethren, so we should be pleased that our city’s top cultural resources officer has done extensive study of the issue.
Betsy Bradley starts in January. Fellow preservationists, a lot of good lies ahead.