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03/21/24 NEW PARTNERSHIP WITH NATIONAL TRUST FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION WILL AMPLIFY WOMEN'S HISTORIC AND CULTURAL CONTRIBUTIONS

 

Master of Heritage Conservation (MHC) students will play an early and key role in a new partnership between the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the Los Angeles Conservancy. Specifically, the partnership will seek to close the gap in representation and increase the visibility of women’s historic and cultural footprint in Los Angeles.

 

Graduate students in the USC School of Architecture’s Heritage Conservation program will help shape the first phase of this partnership. They will research and produce L.A. Historic-Cultural Monument (HCM) nominations for sites representing women's history — which currently make up less than three percent of the city's 1,300 HCMs.

 

While women’s history is ubiquitous in every city, the framework for historic and cultural conservation designation has prioritized the physical design and structure of sites. This overlooks the people whose lives and activities contributed to making them historically significant, resulting in a significant underrepresentation of sites associated with women and marginalized communities, while those linked to wealthy White men are well represented.

 

This year, the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s Where Women Made History initiative, in partnership with the Los Angeles Conservancy and the USC Heritage Conservation students will work to change these biases.

 

“This project is perfect for our students, who see heritage conservation as a tool for social justice,” said Trudi Sandmeier, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of Graduate Programs in Heritage Conservation. “As the next generation of conservation practitioners and advocates, they’ll bring invaluable perspectives to recognizing women’s pivotal roles in shaping Los Angeles.”

 

The MHC program has always studied the impact of underrecognized communities on the built environment—and vice versa. Students have amplified untold stories like that of the Alcoholism Center for Women in the Pico-Union neighborhood. Founded 50 years ago by Brenda Weathers, the center has served ever since as a place of hope and healing for women in recovery–most of them lesbian; many of them women of color, living in poverty and/or formerly unhoused. It was designated as an HCM in the 1980s, but only for the architectural merit and White men associated with its two century-old buildings. (Learn more on the Save As: NextGen Heritage Conservation podcast episode, Sisterhood Is Beautiful.”

 

The project will serve as an important first step in a broader effort to create a model for gender-equitable designation.

 

In an announcement about the “Where Women Made History” initiative, Adrian Scott Fine, president and CEO of the Los Angeles Conservancy said, “When we tell stories about Los Angeles and women, it is fundamentally more real and tangible when we root them in the physical places that help illustrate their lives, contributions, and connection to this city. Acknowledgment is empowerment, which is why we want to ensure more places are designated for women’s contributions.”

 

 

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