Since the National Historic Preservation Act was passed in 1966, Florida’s historic preservation movement has made significant progress. With fifty years of hindsight, the 2017-2021 Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan provides an opportunity to commemorate preservation successes in Florida, highlight the important role that preservation plans in economic development and revitalization, and outline a forward-thinking plan for the future of historic preservation in Florida. As one of the most culturally and economically diverse of the United States, Florida has a unique opportunity to demonstrate how appreciation and preservation of a rich past can form part of a foundation for an economically and culturally dynamic future.
Although they form the backbone of what we do as preservation advocates, an appreciation of the past and vision for the future are not entirely sufficient to maintain historic preservation as a sustainable movement. Our recognition of significant elements of shared history must be diverse and inclusive, and our vision must be innovative and appealing to a younger generation who value history and preservation differently than their predecessors. As a movement, historic preservation must reach out in new ways, using new technology, and with a vocabulary that speaks to traditional stakeholders, those newly engaged in preservation, and especially younger and successive generations. Preservation must, in other words, step into an ever-broadening and diversifying Florida, United States, and world.
The 2017-2021 Statewide Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan is not meant to be a prescriptive or limiting set of rules for the Florida Division of Historical Resources or for Florida’s stakeholders and partners in preservation. Instead, this document should serve both as an introduction and invitation to the world of historic preservation, and on another level it should provide a robust set of goals and recommendations for those already interested and invested in preservation efforts. Historic Preservation in Florida should reflect our state’s constituency – diverse, multi-cultural, and growing – and should at the same time remain grounded in tradition and the appreciation of the past that supports education, economic growth, and the transformational community benefits of a historic preservation ethic.