Preserve and Play: Preserving Historic Entertainment and Recreation Resources

 The 1929 men’s swimming pool on the thirteenth floor at the Medinah Athletic Club in Chicago with its lounge, grotto, and spectator seating (Scimitar)

The 1929 men’s swimming pool on the thirteenth floor at the Medinah Athletic Club in Chicago with its lounge, grotto, and spectator seating (Scimitar)

Historic preservation does not often come to mind when one thinks of recreation and entertainment. Yet many types of facilities that help fulfill our desire to relax or play, such as beaches, playgrounds, sports stadiums, and amusement parks, may be quite old. In the present day, there are numerous resources associated with entertainment and recreation dating to the Industrial Revolution or before; many more are historic through products of the automobile age.

It is remarkable that some of these properties, structures, and landscapes have changed little over time and still offer the enjoyment of long-established leisurely activities. Other entertainment and recreation facilities have evolved over time and represent a continuum of changing public taste and interests. What these structures and places share, however, is the legacy of how Americans have eagerly embraced and pursued avenues for relaxation and play.

Unlike many traditional historic properties such as house museums, shops along the main streets of small towns, railroad stations, court houses, and hotels, it can be more difficult to assess recreational and entertainment facilities as to their historic significance and character. Even more challenging is how to preserve those that have survived remarkably unchanged and, for those properties that represent a continuum of change, how to operate them today while respecting their historic significance.

Preserve and Play: Preserving Historic Recreation and Entertainment Sites, held in Chicago in May 2005, was the first national forum to explore and promote successful ways of preserving historic resources associated with America’s leisure activities. HPEF co-sponsored the event with the National Council for Preservation Education, the National Park Service and other organizations.

Preserve and Play Conference Abstracts

Sample papers, a table of contents, and online ordering information are available on the
Preserve and Play publication page.