Houston is known for many things—the oil and gas industry, the first word to be spoken on the moon, Beyoncé—but historic preservation is not high on the list. While some progress has been made, like the tenacious efforts of Courtlandt Place, McMansions continue to trump historic properties everyday.
But much to our surprise—and delight!—PastForward Conference, the nation's premiere gathering for preservation enthusiasts, comes to Houston next week (November 15–18). While it seems like an unlikely venue for the event, the Bayou City was selected to host this year because of its unique preservation position.
Notorious for inept zoning and poor safeguards for historic structures, the organization shares that Houston has piloted new approaches and innovative tools to preserve its storied history.
“We’re excited to bring the national preservation conference to Houston this year for the first time,” says Stephanie Meeks, president and CEO of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. “Attendees will be delighted by the city’s architectural legacy, and the diverse and expansive local culture that Houston has to offer. There is much to learn from Houston’s historic fabric, and the compelling preservation story it has to tell.”
The conference includes field study sessions that give attendees street tours of Houston and surrounding areas, including preservation hotbeds like the Astrodome, Washington Avenue Cultural District, Galveston's historic districts and the NASA Johnson Space Center.
PastForward will also host marquee presentations, called TrustLive, on how preservation can play an important role in securing healthier, more sustainable and equitable cities, with speakers including Houston's Project Row Houses co-founder Rick Lowe and filmmaker John Valadez. The series will be streamed live for remote attendees who register.
“The TrustLives are a way to bring diverse perspectives to important preservation topics and engage not only conference attendees but also thousands of people outside of Houston as well,” says Susan West Montgomery, vice president of Preservation Resources at the National Trust. “This is a pivotal time for us to bring together as many people as possible to discuss the future of the preservation movement now, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act this year, and look ahead to the next 50 years to determine the future of preservation in our cities and towns across the U.S.”
Nov 15–18. Event programming, venues and registration information are available at pastforwardconference.org