Historic places provide the windows and the visual reminders to our collective past. They provide us identity, as well as comfort and reassurance, especially in vulnerable and unfamiliar times. As is often said, historic buildings and communities offer a sense of place — perhaps an emotional connection that is difficult to describe, or a feeling of well-being that affords a momentary sense of pleasure and contentment. For me, a twist of the phrase offers a more suitable description of the feeling — they are “places of sense.” They make sense to us as they exude meaning, dimensions, and spirit. They speak stories and narratives without us ever having to put them in writing. They are irreplaceable as most preservationists would say — without them, we would have no meaning. And yet, to save them, we must also grapple with the needs of the present and the uncertainties of an unpredictable future.
My name is Nick Kalogeresis. I am a historic preservation planner. I inaugurate this blog as I enter my 30th year in the preservation planning field, working in communities throughout the United States, both large and small, all seeking ways to preserve and breathe new life in the buildings, downtowns and neighborhoods that matter to them. I do consider myself very fortunate. I have had the distinct privilege of working in the field in varying jobs and capacities — first as an eager, idealistic, and bright-eyed Main Street director in an Illinois small town, then next as a statewide Main Street coordinator, and from there as a road warrior consultant for the National Trust for Historic Preservation, and now, a manager for a nationwide historic preservation planning practice. It has been quite a journey. Along the way, I have witnessed towns and cities embrace historic preservation’s power to transform their struggling downtown districts and neighborhoods, while for others, there is an ongoing struggle to discover and understand preservation’s purpose in a world of constant change and challenge.
This blog is part memoir, part travel diary, and part catalog of thoughts — all emanating from my past and current work as a professional preservationist. If you are looking for preservation philosophy, there are plenty of other websites and blogs for that, and I am more than willing to tell you where to find them. My thought catalog encompasses my observations, attitudes, and opinions about matters in the preservation planning world. My long, productive career entitles me to them.
I hope you enjoy this journey with me — to places of heritage, beauty, connection, and meaning. Places seeking answers for the future that begins with their past. And by the way – where did I really get that title for this blog? Well, it comes from a book I read for my historical geography class while attending graduate school at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. The book, A Place of Sense: Essays in Search of the Midwest, presents compelling narratives of people’s relationship to the land and local culture in time of unforeseen change and upheaval — in this case, the Iowa farm crisis of the late 1980s. Although somewhat dated, I hope you give it a read sometime. It ignited my fascination with heritage places- I’m sure it will for you.