Reconstructing Historic Landmarks: Fabrication, Negotiation, and the Past (Hardback) book cover

Reconstructing Historic Landmarks

Fabrication, Negotiation, and the Past

By Wayde Brown

© 2019 – Routledge

232 pages | 75 B/W Illus.

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Hardback: 9781138648319
pub: 2018-08-24
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Historic reconstructions have been a consistent part of the historic preservation and heritage conservation movements in the United States and Canada. Indeed, reconstruction has been the primary tool at the most influential historic sites for example: the Governor's Palace and the Capitol at Colonial Williamsburg, and in Canada, the Fortress of Louisbourg. Dozens of other reconstructions have appeared during the past century in North America, undertaken by individuals, communities, states and provinces, and by national agencies responsible for cultural heritage. Despite this prevalence, historic reconstructions have received little scholarly attention and the question of what motivated the proponents of these projects remains largely unexamined.

This book explores that question through detailed studies of ten historic reconstructions located throughout Canada and the United States, ranging from 1908 to 2011. Drawing upon diverse archival sources and site investigations, the proponents of each site are given voice to address their need to remake these landmarks, be it to sustain, to challenge or even subvert a historical narrative or – with reference to contemporary heritage studies – to reclaim these spaces.

Historic Reconstructions provides a fascinating insight into these shifting concepts of history in North America and will be of considerable interest both to students and scholars of historic preservation and indeed to heritage professionals involved in reconstructions themselves.


"Cogent and consistently engaging, this book greatly enriches the discourse of heritage conservation. Wayde Brown lays bare its inevitable admixture of atavism, alienation and appropriation while acknowledging changing endeavour to capture temporal and cultural authenticity. He deserves particular praise for his articulate review of theory as well as practice, and attention to dominant settler but also indigenous patrimony through his adept selection and interrogation of a sequence of major reconstruction projects across North America. The analysis of these projects properly acknowledges the importance individual actors, and thus the play of prejudice and presumption in the staging of touristic historical recall through place and artifact."

Rhodri Windsor-Liscombe, The University of British Colombia, Canada

"Wayde Brown provides offers a fascinating look at reconstructing historic places that have been destroyed. Opinion has been divided over the value of rebuilding lost heritage. Some favour it for providing a clear picture of what has vanished, while others complain that it introduces new, and sometimes incorrect, ideas about the past. Brown treats this controversial subject generally, while also focussing on well-selected past examples."

Harold Kalman, private scholar, Canada

"Reconstructing Historic Landmarks: Fabrication, Negotiation, and the Past is evocative and broadly documents the reconstruction processes and the struggles to align with the public narrative in Canada and the United States. With this book, Wayde Brown invigorates the discussion on reconstruction and authenticity. He clearly illuminates the dichotomy between the opportunities and constraints of evidence-based approaches and the romantic poignancy of the public narrative that arise when reconstructing historic buildings and contexts."

Robert A. Young, University of Utah, USA

Table of Contents

  1. Historic Reconstructions: history, theory and practice 2. Looking Back: Europe and the Civilized Frame 3. Making Nations: Two Histories and a Landscape 4. Taking Stories, Reclaiming Stories 5. Forward, to the Past

About the Author

Wayde Brown is an associate professor at the University of Georgia, USA, teaching within the historic preservation program. He holds a PhD from the Welsh School of Architecture, Cardiff, UK, a post-graduate degree in conservation studies from the University of York, UK, and a professional degree in architecture from Dalhousie University, Canada. He is a member of the Royal Architectural Institute of Canada. Wayde Brown's research has been focused on the history of the historic preservation / heritage conservation movement, and especially the motivation to 'make historic sites'. He is currently exploring the used of 'place' in the United States to memorialize the AIDS epidemic.

About the Series

Routledge Research in Architectural Conservation and Historic Preservation

The Routledge Research in Architectural Conservation and Historic Preservation series provides the reader with the latest scholarship in the field of building conservation. The series publishes research from across the globe and covers areas as diverse as restoration techniques, preservation theory, technology, digital reconstruction, structures, materials, details, case studies, and much more. By making these studies available to the worldwide academic community, the series aims to promote quality architectural preservation research.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
HISTORY / North America