5 Great Groups Preserving Historical Sites & Buildings

Historic sites and buildings allow communities to connect with their cultural heritage and better understand history, yet these places degrade over time due to either nature or human activity. Fortunately, there are many groups that recognize the importance of these sites and are dedicated to restoring and preserving them. In no particular order, here are some organizations conserving places of cultural significance.

First up, at #1, we have The Castle, an 1855 Gothic Revival house that was once home to some of the most prominent and influential citizens of Marietta, Ohio. It first opened for tours as a historical house museum in 1994, and since then, various items relating to the previous owners of the property have been donated and are now on display.

The Castle also provides a variety of year-round programs for students, including a wide range of summer camps, bus trips, and workshops. The Food History program highlights regional cuisine through the decades as described in various primary sources; these events typically include presentations and a multi-course meal.

Coming in at #2 is North Point Lighthouse Friends. Formed in 2002, the group works to preserve the North Point Lighthouse, which contributed to Milwaukee's trade and economic growth until it was decommissioned in 1994. Since its complete restoration in 2007, this historic site has been opened to the public for tours and visits.

The building's original Keepers Quarters now serves as a museum gallery, and it contains several exhibits depicting the maritime history of the Great Lakes. Among its artifacts are the lighthouse keeper's ledgers from 1873 and the brass fog bell that used to be located at the Pierhead Light at the entrance of the Milwaukee Harbor.

Taking the #3 spot is the Cleveland Restoration Society. Founded in 1972, it aims to create vibrant, high-value neighborhoods in key areas around the city with the help of community leaders. Over the years, it has advocated for the preservation of several historic buildings, such as the Allen Theatre and the Sarah Benedict House.

Among the group's programs is the Sacred Landmarks Support Initiative, which assists congregations in Northeast Ohio with the upkeep of their historic properties. Through the SNOOP! Tours, members get a behind-the-scenes look at ongoing and completed historic preservation projects in Cleveland.

Next, at #4, is Friends of T.C. Steele, a group of volunteers dedicated to preserving and developing one of Indiana’s most scenic and historic places. In 1907, impressionist painter Theodore Clement Steele and his wife, Selma, established a home, studio, and garden on over two hundred acres of land. The property, along with its artifacts, remain largely preserved by the group.

The site has five hiking trails totaling over three miles, and these let visitors experience the landscapes and forests that Steele captured on canvas. Guests can also visit the Large Studio, which contains over fifty paintings that provide a glimpse of what southern Indiana looked like in the past.

Finally, at #5, we have the Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit dedicated to saving significant buildings and educating the community about L.A. County's array of historic resources. The group hosts the biennial L.A. Historic Neighborhoods Conference, which showcases the latest practices in neighborhood conservation and provides residents with an opportunity to learn from one another.

The organization also hosts interactive, multi-session virtual workshops for students. Among these is Adventures in Architecture, which takes participants on a virtual field trip to significant historic sites, where they can meet community members and learn why protecting these places is important.