Name: Kate Neuner
Current Job Title: Cultural Resources Specialist, Massachusetts Department of Transportation
Why historic preservation?
Mostly because I see a direct link between architecture and human beings. It’s one of the most immediate, constant links we have to our history and the history of the place we’re living/standing/working in. If we don’t preserve our built history, we lose it — forever–and what replaces it is usually characterless and unremarkable, especially in today’s big-box world. Also, I think it’s important to understand that preservation doesn’t mean freezing everything in time – it’s not anti-progress. There need to be people who are committed to balancing the needs of a changing society with the importance of preserving historic architecture – which is like functional artwork in a lot of cases. And I guess I just feel compelled to be one of those people.
As you see it, what is the most important historic preservation issue today?
That’s difficult, mostly because all of the important issues tie into one another – awareness, funding, legislation…
But if I had to pick, I might say education/outreach. It blows my mind how interested people are in architecture once you start talking about it and engaging them with it. But it happens so infrequently, and people don’t think to seek it out on their own. Getting communities interested in their own architecture, getting kids interested from an early age, to get an eye for buildings…I think that would have a tremendous impact.
Favorite historic building?
Allen House, 1682 Washington Street, South End, Boston
It was an amazing preservation job – they saved that building from the brink of demo – and now it’s stunning.
It’s also on my favorite corner. The abandoned HiTe TV building is next door, it’s on this strectch of rapidly gentrifying Washington Street, the hospital is right behind it…it’s just such a weird, dynamic area.