Historic Preservation Glossary | Wisconsin Historical Society

General Information

Historic Preservation Glossary

Addition
New construction added to an existing building or structure.
Advocacy Committee
A committee of an advocacy group's board of directors that establishes and shepherds the group's advocacy policies. If an organization is all-volunteer, the advocacy committee may also implement advocacy strategies such as writing letters to the editor. The committee may or may not include individuals who have subject matter expertise, such as an attorney or a city planner, but who are not members of the board.
Affordable Housing Tax Credit
A phrase that is synonymous with the federal low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) program offered through the Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The LIHTC program is an indirect federal subsidy used to finance the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. The LIHTC program was enacted by Congress in 1986 to provide the private market with an incentive to invest in affordable rental housing. Federal housing tax credits are awarded to developers of qualified projects. Developers then sell these credits to investors to raise capital (or equity) for their projects, which reduces the debt that the developer would otherwise have to borrow. Because the debt is lower, a tax credit property can in turn offer lower, more affordable rents. The LIHTC is often paired with the Federal Rehabilitation Tax Credit available to properties listed on the National Register of Historic Places or contributing buildings within a National Register district.
Alteration
Work that impacts any exterior architectural feature including construction, reconstruction, repair, or removal of any building element.
Articles of Incorporation
Nine articles of information required by the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions in Chapter 181 Form 102 for an organization to incorporate as a tax-exempt, nonprofit entity in the state of Wisconsin.
Arts and Culture
A category of public work that includes fields such as media and communications, visual arts, architecture, ceramic art, performing arts, museums, zoos and aquariums; literary, humanistic, and historical societies; and sometimes historic preservation.
Bowstring Bridge
An arch bridge whose lateral thrust is contained by a bottom chord, such as tie rods or a deck.
Brick-and-Mortar
A type of historic preservation project that focuses on material improvements to a historic property, such as restoration and rehabilitation work. Brick-and-mortar costs include building materials and labor.
Business Improvement District
A defined commercial area in which businesses pay a fee to fund enhancements such as flower boxes, thematic lighting, distinctive signage, a map of businesses, and landscaping.
Business Judgment Rule
A rule that presumes board members will act in the best interests of the organization and its members.
Call to Action
A communication that invites participation in a political activity, such as (1) urging the recipient of the communication to contact a legislator or staffer or sign a petition to a legislator; (2) providing the address or telephone number of a legislator; (3) offering a tear-off postcard addressed to a legislator; or (4) identifying a legislator as opposing or being undecided on certain legislation, being a member of the committee considering the legislation, or being the recipient's legislative representative. Note: Identifying the sponsor of certain legislation does not count as a call to action.
Caucus
An affinity group of legislators who come together to support and encourage policy-making on a specific issue and/or create and propose legislation.
Certificate of Appropriateness
A document awarded by a Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) or Architectural Review Board (ARB) that allows an applicant to proceed with a proposed alteration, demolition, or new construction in a designated area or site, following a determination of the proposal's suitability according to applicable criteria.
Certified Local Government
Any city, county, parish, township, municipality, or borough, or any other general purpose subdivision enacted by the National Preservation Act Amendments of 1980 to further delegate responsibilities and funding to the local level.
Character
The distinctive qualities and attributes of any building, structure, site, street, or district.
Charrette
A time-constrained brainstorming and problem-solving group exercise that provides a structure for community officials, experts, clients, and citizens to participate in the design process.
Community Development Block Grants
Funds granted annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on a formula basis to certain cities, urban counties, and states to develop viable urban communities. CDBG funds assist a wide variety of projects, including economic development, housing rehabilitation, public facilities, and large-scale physical development projects. Preservation activities can be supported by helping residents to maintain and upgrade historic homes.
Context
The setting in which a historic building, element, site, structure, street, or district exists.
Demolition
Any act that destroys in whole or in part a building or structure.
Demolition By Neglect
The destruction of a building or structure through abandonment or lack of maintenance.
Descriptive Mark
A graphic mark that simply describes goods or services offered and is not inherently distinctive in the context of trademark law.
Design Guidelines
Criteria developed to identify design concerns in an area and to help property owners ensure that rehabilitation and new construction respect the character of designated buildings and districts.
Design Review Board
The governmental board responsible for overseeing design review in a municipality's locally designated districts. This term is synonymous with Historic Preservation Commission, Board of Architectural Review, and other similar designations.
Domain Name
A sequence of alphanumeric characters followed by a suffix (such as .org, .gov, .edu, or .com) that forms the most identifiable part of a website address, or URL.
Due Process
The established procedure by which legal action is carried out.
Elements
Material parts or details of a building, site, structure, street, or district.
Endangered List
An index of threatened historic buildings, sites, or other resources that is used to raise awareness of historic preservation threats.
Fabric
The physical material of a building, structure, or community that connotes an interweaving of component parts.
Facade
An external face or elevation of a building.
Facadectomy
A controversial practice in which only the front face of a historic building is retained while the remainder of the structure is demolished. Some consider this practice to constitute a compromise that prevents the complete destruction of a building while others consider it to be a false approach that lowers the credibility of true historic preservation.
Fair Use
A provision of United States copyright law that permits the limited use or reproduction of copyrighted materials without the copyright owner's permission if the end use of the materials is for educational or nonprofit purposes. The degree to which a work is duplicated – that is, in whole or in small part – is also a factor of fair use determination. Note that acknowledgment of the source of copyrighted material does not substitute for a grant of permission.
Feasibility Study
An investigation and analysis of the viability of a proposal that considers factors such as the current environment for similar ventures, economics, and resources available to execute a given proposal. Feasibility studies help to identify issues that should be resolved prior to making a substantial investment in a given plan.
First Amendment
The Constitutional amendment that provides support for lobbying by prohibiting the federal government from interfering with an individual's right to 'petition the government for a redress of grievances.'
Friendraiser
A social event that brings together potential members and sponsors of an organization to introduce potential supporters to a group's mission without pressuring them to join or contribute money.
Friends Group
A nonprofit organization formed to support and find funding for a project with capital needs. Friends groups are often, but not always, temporary organizational structures put in place to provide a tax-deductible structure for donations and to attract grants. Friends groups may form in partnership with a governmental entity that has some management stake or ownership of the project in need. A friends group may be charged with finding matching funds for public money allocated with a provision that the project receive substantial community support.
Green Building
An approach to building that the Environmental Protection Agency defines as 'the practice of creating and using healthier and more resource-efficient models of construction, renovation, operation, maintenance and demolition.' The federal government offers incentives to support green building practices nationwide. Many members of the preservation community, including the National Trust for Historic Preservation, have argued that preserving the existing historic fabric constitutes a green building practice.
Heritage Tourism
A type of tourism focused on travel for the purpose of experiencing unique historic places. Heritage tourism received an official federal definition in 2003 under Executive Order 13287, which defined heritage tourism as 'the business and practice of attracting and accommodating visitors to a place or area based especially on the unique or special aspects of that locale's history, landscape (including trail systems), and culture.'
High Style
A term for describing architecture that expresses cultural and aesthetic trends through distinct character-defining features, in contrast to the utilitarian nature of vernacular architecture.
Historic District
A geographically definable area with a significant concentration of buildings, structures, sites, spaces, or objects unified by past events, physical development, design, setting, materials, workmanship, sense of cohesiveness, or related historical and aesthetic associations. The significance of a district may be recognized through listing in a local, state, or national landmarks register and may be protected legally through enactment of a local historic district ordinance administered by a historic district board or commission.
Historic Preservation
The act of saving old and historic buildings, sites, structures, and objects from destruction or deterioration and providing for their continued use by means of restoration, rehabilitation, or adaptive use.
Historic Preservation Advocacy
Public support of preservation as a cause, often but not always within the context of a public debate. Historic preservation advocacy is often reactive, responding to a threat to a historic resource or a policy that protects historic resources. In some cases, historic preservation advocates conceive of potential improvements to preservation policy and work with policy makers to change laws that favor preservation.
Historic Preservation Commission
The governmental entity responsible for overseeing design review in a municipality's locally designated districts. This term is synonymous with Design Review Board, Board of Architectural Review, and other similar designations.
Hosting Site
A type of service that provides space on a server to post a website or digital files on the World Wide Web and to connect to the internet. Also known as a web hosting service.
Idea
A preliminary concept that cannot be protected according to intellectual property law.
Incorporators
The persons responsible for the process of creating a nonprofit corporation. The organization is not fully incorporated if the incorporators have not signed and filed articles of incorporation. An incorporator's participation in the organization often ends once the organization has been established.
Innocent Use
A claim made in defense of an unintentional copyright infringement that is used to reduce the quantity of damages. A claim of innocent use is technically not a defense because intention is irrelevant with liability. Organizations can protect themselves against this excuse by posting or printing a copyright notice with their copyright mark.
King Post Bridge
A simple bridge form of medieval origin comprised of a truss with a simple main or 'king' post flanked by two supports that meet the deck to form an equilateral triangle.
Landmark
A building, structure, object, or site identified as a historic resource of particular significance.
Landscape
The totality of the built or human-influenced habitat experienced at any one place as defined by dominant features such as topography, plant cover, buildings, or other structures and their patterns.
Line Item
An area of expenditure or income in an organization's budget that is often tied to a program, event, service, or capital expense.
Lobbying
The act of attempting to influence public officials or government agencies.
Main Street
A national program administered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation that employs historic preservation as an economic development tool in historic downtown commercial districts.
Memorandum of Understanding
A document that describes an agreement between two or more parties and lays out how the parties will work together toward a common line of action. It is used in cases where parties require formal assurance of common goals and objectives but cannot create a legally enforceable agreement.
Meta Tag
Key information placed in the source code of a web page that describes the page and increases its searchability by internet search engines. Meta tags are not visible on the web page and do not affect the page's appearance.
New Construction
Construction in historic areas and districts that is characterized by the introduction of new elements, sites, buildings, or structures, or additions to existing buildings and structures.
Obstructionist
A term often used by preservation critics to describe an individual or organization intent on delaying or undermining a real estate development, program, or public policy in the name of protecting heritage. Obstructionism implies unreasonableness, an anti-development attitude, and reluctance to accept the value of progress and public benefits greater than a single historic resource.
Planned Giving
A method of supporting an organization financially through deferred-giving arrangements, such as bequests, that reduce the donor's estate tax burden.
Podcast
A digital audio file often produced as part of an episodic series that can be streamed from a computer or mobile device or downloaded from a subscription web syndication service.
Political Action Committee
A group organized to campaign for or against specific political candidates, ballot initiatives, or legislation. The federal government recognizes such a group as a PAC when it raises or spends more than $1000 to influence a federal election.
Preservation
A term that is used interchangeably with "historic preservation" when referring to historic buildings and resources.
Programmatic Agreement
A tool used by the federal government to document terms and conditions agreed upon during the Section 106 process. A programmatic agreement will be used under the following circumstances: (1) if the impacts on a historic property cannot be fully determined prior to the undertaking; (2) if the historic properties affected by the undertaking are similar and don't require unique provisions for protection; (3) when the process delegates decision-making to nonfederal parties; (4) where routine management of a historic property is undertaken at a federal installation or facility; or (5) where the project circumstances necessitate a departure from the conventional Section 106 process.
Property Rights
The legal rights granted to a property owner to control the use of his or her property that underlie laws to protect historic resources. Historic resources are generally saved or lost on the basis of a property rights argument. If a property owner does not value historic preservation, preservation advocates will often use economic arguments and incentives to make their case. Financial incentives such as tax credits, low-interest loans, and grants can level an anti-preservation argument based on the imagined loss of development potential of a given property. Property rights and the developable value of a property are often synonymous, especially in the minds of commercial developers.
Protectable Expression
A precise rendering of an idea that is protectable by copyright law because it is an 'original work of authorship.' The details of the expression are protectable, but not the overarching concept.
Public Policy Committee
A committee of an advocacy group's board of directors that focuses on policy matters. A public policy committee often serves as a watchdog for potential municipal-level policy changes that may impact historic resources, such as a master plan, a landmarks ordinance, local tax incentives, or historic districts.
Purpose and Fit Statement
A working document used to formalize the ideas exchanged during the early development stages of a partnership. A purpose and fit statement lays the groundwork for a more formal agreement such as a Memorandum of Understanding.
Recess
A break during a legislative session of a legislative body that typically occurs during and around major federal holidays and throughout the month of August. In Congress, recesses are sometimes called 'in-district work periods' because legislators use these breaks to connect with their home offices and constituencies. A recess is an ideal time to conduct local grassroots outreach to federal legislators.
Recommendation
An action or activity advised but not required by a municipality's historic preservation commission.
Registered Agent
An individual who facilitates the legal services involved in creating a nonprofit organization, such as receiving incorporating documents from the state government and forwarding all official documents to the organization. This person must maintain a legal address (not a P.O. box) within the jurisdiction of the organization the agent represents and be available during regular business hours.
Rehabilitation
The act or process of returning a property or building to usable condition through repair, alteration, and/or preservation of its features that are significant to its historical, architectural, and cultural values.
Relationship Manager
An individual designated with the task of monitoring and cultivating a relationship with a partner organization or sponsor. Relationship managers work proactively by checking in with their assigned partner or sponsor to ensure satisfaction and to solicit feedback. The relationship manager is also the first to respond to problems between the partner or sponsor and the manager's organization.
Restoration
The act or process of accurately returning a building's appearance to a specific time period by removing later work and replacing missing earlier features to match the original.
RSS Feed Reader
An opt-in Web content delivery program that interprets RSS-formatted Web content, such as news stories, and displays them in aggregate form soon after the content is published. The user must subscribe to particular feeds, so the aggregated content is like a personalized newswire delivery service. Also known as an RSS aggregator or content aggregator. RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication.
Search Engine Optimization
A marketing strategy that seeks to increase the number of visitors to a website through design and coding techniques that improve the site's ranking with Web search engines like Google and Bing.
Section 106
A provision of the National Historic Preservation Act that mandates a review process to assess impacts to historic resources whenever federal money is spent on a capital project (i.e., an undertaking).
Service-Learning
A teaching approach that combines formal instruction with community service and hands-on experience, often arranged as a partnership between a school or teacher and one or more nonprofit organizations.
Significant
Having particularly important associations within the contexts of architecture, history, and culture.
Social Media
A collective term for web and telecommunications technologies that support interactive dialogue among individuals, organizations, and communities. These technologies are sometimes referred to as 'Web 2.0.'
Social Media Campaign
An advocacy or fundraising initiative orchestrated through social media websites and applications that is intended to create buzz and momentum by presenting compelling opportunities for participation to large numbers of individuals through people they know.
Source Code
The series of digital commands expressed in HTML (hypertext markup language) that controls all aspects of a web page, including layout, colors, fonts, links, and functionality.
Stabilization
The act or process of applying measures essential to the maintenance of a deteriorated building as it exists at present to establish structural stability and a weather-resistant enclosure.
Suggestive Mark
A graphic mark that does not directly describe the goods and services provided by a given entity and therefore requires the viewer to infer or make a mental leap to connect a brand name with the item displaying the mark.
Talking Points
A concise list of primary messages or key points that a speaker wishes to convey to his or her audience.
Tax Credit Equity Investment
A registered trust from which investors can purchase units from a fixed portfolio of tax credit equities.
Tax Increment Financing
An economic redevelopment tool used by many municipalities throughout Wisconsin and other parts of the country to develop or redevelop an area. It is most often used in distressed or difficult-to-develop areas, many of which contain older or historic buildings. TIF assumes that a site improvement will have a positive impact on development in the area that will eventually increase tax revenue. TIF provides a structure for using this projected revenue increase to finance the project's debt. The 'tax increment' is the actual increase in tax revenues caused by the increase in the redeveloped site's value and the private investment the redeveloped site generates.
Trademark
A distinctive indicator or sign that represents an individual or legal entity and is often recognized and protected by U.S. trademark law. A trademark can be a name, word, phrase, logo, symbol, design, or combination of any of these elements. Colors, smells and sounds can also be trademarked.
Transfer of Development Rights
A community planning technique that encourages voluntary development limits to a piece of property (such as a historic site) by allowing the property owner to sell his or her development rights to another property owner in an area where development is more desirable.
Undertakings
As defined by section 301(7) of the National Historic Preservation Act: Projects, activities, or programs funded in whole or in part under the direct or indirect jurisdiction of a Federal agency, including those that: (1) are carried out by or on behalf of a Federal agency; (2) are carried out with Federal financial assistance; (3) require a Federal permit, license, or approval; and (4) are subject to state or local regulation administered pursuant to a delegation or approval by a Federal agency.
Wayfinding
The use of signs, maps, graphics, or sounds to communicate location and directions to visitors to enhance their experience at places such as heritage sites and museums.
Windshield Survey
A survey conducted to collect photographs and locational information but no site-specific research; also known as a 'reconnaissance' survey.
Work for Hire
A work created by either an employee as a part of his or her job, or created for a client by a nonemployee with a written understanding that the work is a 'work for hire.' A work-for-hire designation is an exception to the general rule that whoever creates a work is the legally recognized author of that work. If an employee produces a work, the organization can claim authorship, as can a client who has contracted a work for hire.
Working Board
A nonprofit board of directors that is actively engaged in the daily operations of an organization, such as answering the phone, preparing educational programs, and leading tours.

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