Built Heritage Essay

North façade of the Lanier Mansion.
From the collection of the Indiana State Museum and Historic Sites

The architecture of Madison, Indiana, is special. It is why people from all over the country choose to vacation in the town. Some even choose to relocate to this charming community. Madison’s heritage is clearly visible through its architecture. One sees a building and, through close examination, understands the era in which it was built, its original purpose, and the changes it has undergone over time. The buildings of Madison tell the town’s own true and exciting story. Many already-appealing towns have taken a turn into faux history, attempting to add charm to their communities through the construction of new buildings with historic stylings that try to look old. Madison, wisely, has remained authentic. If a building looks old or historic, then it probably is. Madison is a town without pretense, as it always has been. Just how Madison came to be home to so many notable early buildings is embedded deep in the town’s history, as is the story of how these buildings have been preserved.

After the War of 1812, settlers moved west as fast as the waters of the Ohio River could carry them. Madison found itself one of the budding cities along this busy waterway, though it was always a smaller town than nearby Cincinnati and Louisville. It was part of Indiana’s wealthiest county in 1835. This wealth was not measured in acres, as it often was in other parts of the State. Madison’s soil and terrain were ill-suited for farming. Rather, wealth came in the form of business owners and their enterprises. The success of these early Madison residents is reflected in the fine homes, businesses, and public buildings they built. The wealth of Madison’s early citizens allowed its architect-builders, like Francis Costigan, to replicate the high style architecture of the East with an attention to detail and exactness that was uncommon elsewhere in the Old Northwest Territory.

The architecture for which Madison is so noted dates from the antebellum period of the 1830s through the 1850s. Federal and Greek Revival styles, no doubt guided by publications like Minard Lefever’s Modern Builders’ Guide (1833) and Asher Benjamin’s The Architect (1830), are the most evident in the town. A high number of row houses and double houses were built in Madison during these early years, when it was assumed that the river and commerce, rather than the land, would provide occupation for town residents.

Image details (left to right): The Hendricks-Beall House, at 620 West Main Street, sports an elaborate, iron porch, National Park Service; Even this modest, one-story home features high-style Greek Revival details, like an elaborate entablature, Courtesy of Bradley Miller; A brick, Federal-style house in Madison, Courtesy of Bradley Miller.

While many historic towns sit along the Ohio, few have been so well preserved as Madison. There are a number of reasons for this, the first reflecting the axiom, “poverty is the handmaiden of preservation.” Madison’s wealth and prominence declined sharply after the 1850s, when the expansion of the railroad network gave more towns access to railroad service. A brief economic resurgence in the late 19th century resulted in the construction of many new buildings and the addition of Italianate detailing on some of the Federal style buildings.

This early period of economic decline has, in part, contributed to the preservation of Madison's fine architecture. Had the town declined later, much more disruption of the historic fabric would likely have occurred. This is not to say that Madison has never dealt with demolition or detrimental modifications. One of its greatest losses was its Richardsonian Romanesque post office, which was demolished in 1963. Nationwide during this period, many regrettable demolitions took place. This time also saw the birth of a national preservation movement, which led to the enactment of the National Historic Preservation Act in 1966.

Historic preservation in Madison can be traced to the 1920s when Drusilla Cravens, granddaughter of banker James F.D. Lanier, restored many houses in Madison, including the Lanier Mansion, which opened to the public as a State Historic Site in 1926. Madison’s modern preservation movement began in 1960, with the organization of Historic Madison, Inc. (HMI), by John T. and Ann Windle. HMI now owns 17 of Madison’s notable historic properties. In 1976, the National Trust for Historic Preservation chose Madison as one of three cities to be part of its pilot Main Street program, which sought to keep historic Main Streets across the country viable places of commerce. In 1988, the Cornerstone Society, Madison’s second preservation group whose mission is advocacy and education, was formed. In 1973, the Madison Historic District was added to the National Register of Historic Places and on March 20, 2006, the Secretary of the Interior designated the Madison Historic District a National Historic Landmark.

Cultural heritage is the legacy of physical science artifacts and intangible attributes of a group or society that are inherited from past generations, maintained in the present and bestowed for the benefit of future generations. Cultural heritage includes tangible culture (such as buildings, monuments, landscapes, books, works of art, and artifacts), intangible culture (such as folklore, traditions, language, and knowledge), and natural heritage (including culturally significant landscapes, and biodiversity).[1]

The deliberate act of keeping cultural heritage from the present for future is known as preservation (American English) or conservation (British English), though these terms may have more specific or technical meaning in the same contexts in the other dialect.

The ethics and rationale of cultural preservation[edit]

Objects are a part of the study of human history because they provide a concrete basis for ideas, and can validate them. Their preservation demonstrates a recognition of the necessity of the past and of the things that tell its story.[2] In The Past is a Foreign Country, David Lowenthal observes that preserved objects also validate memories. While digital acquisition techniques can provide a technological solution that is able to acquire the shape and the appearance of artifacts with an unprecedented precision[3] in human history, the actuality of the object, as opposed to a reproduction, draws people in and gives them a literal way of touching the past. This unfortunately poses a danger as places and things are damaged by the hands of tourists, the light required to display them, and other risks of making an object known and available. The reality of this risk reinforces the fact that all artifacts are in a constant state of chemical transformation, so that what is considered to be preserved is actually changing – it is never as it once was.[4] Similarly changing is the value each generation may place on the past and on the artifacts that link it to the past.

Classical civilizations, and especially the Indian, have attributed supreme importance to the preservation of tradition. Its central idea was that social institutions, scientific knowledge and technological applications need to use a "heritage" as a "resource".[5] Using contemporary language, we could say that ancient Indians considered, as social resources, both economic assets (like natural resources and their exploitation structure) and factors promoting social integration (like institutions for the preservation of knowledge and for the maintenance of civil order).[6] Ethics considered that what had been inherited should not be consumed, but should be handed over, possibly enriched, to successive generations. This was a moral imperative for all, except in the final life stage of sannyasa.

What one generation considers "cultural heritage" may be rejected by the next generation, only to be revived by a subsequent generation.

Types of heritage[edit]

Cultural property[edit]

See also: Material culture

Cultural property includes the physical, or "tangible" cultural heritage, such as artworks. These are generally split into two groups of movable and immovable heritage. Immovable heritage includes buildings (which themselves may include installed art such as organs, stained glass windows, and frescos), large industrial installations or other historic places and monuments. Moveable heritage includes books, documents, moveable artworks, machines, clothing, and other artifacts, that are considered worthy of preservation for the future. These include objects significant to the archaeology, architecture, science or technology of a specified culture.[7]

Aspects and disciplines of the preservation and conservation of tangible culture include:

Intangible culture[edit]

Main article: Intangible cultural heritage

"Intangible cultural heritage" consists of non-physical aspects of a particular culture, more often maintained by social customs during a specific period in history. The concept includes the ways and means of behavior in a society, and the often formal rules for operating in a particular cultural climate. These include social values and traditions, customs and practices, aesthetic and spiritual beliefs, artistic expression, language and other aspects of human activity. The significance of physical artifacts can be interpreted[by whom?] against the backdrop of socioeconomic, political, ethnic, religious and philosophical values of a particular group of people. Naturally, intangible cultural heritage is more difficult to preserve than physical objects.[citation needed]

Aspects of the preservation and conservation of cultural intangibles include:

Natural heritage[edit]

See also: Conservation movement

"Natural heritage" is also an important part of a society's heritage, encompassing the countryside and natural environment, including flora and fauna, scientifically known as biodiversity, as well as geological elements (including mineralogical, geomorphological, paleontological, etc.), scientifically known as geodiversity. These kind of heritage sites often serve as an important component in a country's tourist industry, attracting many visitors from abroad as well as locally. Heritage can also include cultural landscapes (natural features that may have cultural attributes).

Aspects of the preservation and conservation of natural heritage include:

World heritage movement[edit]

Significant was the Convention Concerning the Protection of World Cultural and Natural Heritage that was adopted by the General Conference of UNESCO in 1972. As of 2011, there are 936 World Heritage Sites: 725 cultural, 183 natural, and 28 mixed properties, in 153 countries. Each of these sites is considered important to the international community.

The underwater cultural heritage is protected by the UNESCO Convention on the Protection of the Underwater Cultural Heritage. This convention is a legal instrument helping states parties to improve the protection of their underwater cultural heritage.[8]

In additional, UNESCO has begun designating masterpieces of the Oral and Intangible Heritage of Humanity. The Committee on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights sitting as part of the United Nations Economic and Social Council with article 15 of its Covenant had sought to instill the principles under which cultural heritage is protected as part of a basic human right.

Key international documents and bodies include:

National and regional heritage movements[edit]

Much of heritage preservation work is done at the national, regional, or local levels of society. Various national and regional regimes include:

Burra Charter
Heritage Overlay in Victoria, Australia
Heritage conservation in Canada
National Monuments Council (Chile)
State Administration of Cultural Heritage
Supreme Council of Antiquities
Ghana’s material cultural heritage
Secretary of State for Culture, Arts and Sports
Heritage conservation in Hong Kong
Ministry of Culture (India)
National Archives of India
Archaeological Survey of India
Anthropological Survey of India
Culture of India
National Museum Institute of the History of Art, Conservation and Museology
List of World Heritage Sites in India
Indian Heritage Cities Network, Mysore
Heritage structures in Hyderabad
Cultural Heritage, Handcrafts and Tourism Organization
Cultural Properties of Japan
Institute for Protection of Cultural Monuments
The National Heritage Act
National Heritage Council of Namibia
National Monuments Council
New Zealand Historic Places Trust
Pakistan Pakistan Monument
National Historical Commission of the Philippines
South African Heritage Resources Agency
Provincial heritage resources authorities
Amafa aKwaZulu-Natali
Heritage Western Cape
Northern Cape Heritage Resources Authority
National Monuments Council
Historical Monuments Commission
Conservation in the United Kingdom
English Heritage
English Heritage Archive
National Trust
National Register of Historic Places
National Monuments of Zimbabwe

Issues in cultural heritage[edit]

Broad philosophical, technical, and political issues and dimensions of cultural heritage include:

Management of cultural heritage[edit]

Issues in cultural heritage management include:

See also[edit]

Digital methods in preservation


Further reading[edit]

  • Michael Falser. Cultural Heritage as Civilizing Mission. From Decay to Recovery. Heidelberg, New York: Springer (2015), ISBN 978-3-319-13638-7.
  • Michael Falser, Monica Juneja (eds.). 'Archaeologizing' Heritage? Transcultural Entanglements between Local Social Practices and Global Virtual Realities. Heidelberg, New York: Springer (2013), ISBN 978-3-642-35870-8.
  • Ann Marie Sullivan, Cultural Heritage & New Media: A Future for the Past, 15 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 604 (2016) https://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1392&context=ripl
  • Barbara T. Hoffman, Art and cultural heritage: law, policy, and practice, Cambridge University Press, 2006
  • Leila A. Amineddoleh, "Protecting Cultural Heritage by Strictly Scrutinizing Museum Acquisitions," Fordham Intellectual Property, Media & Entertainment Law Journal, Vol. 24, No. 3. Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2467100
  • Paolo Davide Farah, Riccardo Tremolada, Desirability of Commodification of Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Unsatisfying Role of IPRs, in TRANSNATIONAL DISPUTE MANAGEMENT, Special Issues “The New Frontiers of Cultural Law: Intangible Heritage Disputes”, Volume 11, Issue 2, March 2014, ISSN 1875-4120 Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2472339
  • Paolo Davide Farah, Riccardo Tremolada, Intellectual Property Rights, Human Rights and Intangible Cultural Heritage, Journal of Intellectual Property Law, Issue 2, Part I, June 2014, ISSN 0035-614X, Giuffre, pp. 21–47. Available at: http://papers.ssrn.com/sol3/papers.cfm?abstract_id=2472388
  • Nora Lafi, Building and Destroying Authenticity in Aleppo: Heritage between Conservation, Transformation, Destruction, and Re-Invention in Christoph Bernhardt, Martin Sabrow, Achim Saupe. Gebaute Geschichte. Historische Authentizität im Stadtraum, Wallstein, pp.206-228, 2017
  • Dallen J. Timothy and Gyan P. Nyaupane, Cultural heritage and tourism in the developing world : a regional perspective, Taylor & Francis, 2009
  • Peter Probst, "Osogbo and the Art of Heritage: Monuments, Deities, and Money", Indiana University Press, 2011
  • Constantine Sandis (ed.), Cultural Heritage Ethics: Between Theory and Practice, Open Book Publishers, 2014
  • Zuckermann, Ghil'ad et al., ENGAGING - A Guide to Interacting Respectfully and Reciprocally with Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander People, and their Arts Practices and Intellectual Property, Australian Government: Indigenous Culture Support, 2015
  • Walters, Diana; Laven, Daniel; Davis, Peter (2017). Heritage & Peacebuilding. Suffolk, UK: Boydell Press. ISBN 9781783272167. 

External links[edit]

Plaque stating the designation of Carthage as a World Heritage Site.
Emblem used to clearly identify cultural property under protection of the Hague Convention of 1954, regarding cultural property during armed conflicts.
  1. ^Ann Marie Sullivan, Cultural Heritage & New Media: A Future for the Past, 15 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 604 (2016) https://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1392&context=ripl
  2. ^Tanselle, G. Thomas (1998), Literature and Artifacts, Charlottesville, VA: Bibliographical Society of the University of Virginia, ISBN 1-883631-06-8, OCLC 39223648 
  3. ^Paolo Cignoni; Roberto Scopigno (June 2008), "Sampled 3D models for CH applications: A viable and enabling new medium or just a technological exercise?"(PDF), ACM Journal on Computing and Cultural Heritage, 1 (1): 1, doi:10.1145/1367080.1367082. 
  4. ^Lowenthal, David (1985), The Past is a Foreign Country, New York: Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0-521-22415-2, OCLC 12052097 
  5. ^Proposing Varanasi for the World Heritage List of UNESCO(PDF), Varanasi Development Authority .
  6. ^Singh, Rana P.B., Vrinda Dar and S. Pravin, Rationales for including Varanasi as heritage city in the UNESCO World Heritage List, National Geographic Journal of India (varanasi) 2001, 47:177-200  .
  7. ^Ann Marie Sullivan, Cultural Heritage & New Media: A Future for the Past, 15 J. MARSHALL REV. INTELL. PROP. L. 604 (2016) https://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1392&context=ripl
  8. ^[This convention is a legal instrument helping states parties to improve the protection of their underwater cultural heritage]

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