ABSTRACT

The preservation movement in the United States emerged in the mid-to late nineteenth century. European preservationists got an earlier start, but by the end of the century, developments in many western countries moved in tandem, and the transatlantic flow of ideas and influence was not entirely one-way. This chapter briefly sketches a comparative framework for examining the emergence of the American preservation movement in the context of the similar movements in Europe. It identifies parallels, contrasts and unanswered questions. Some is not merely comparative, but a history of actual interactions across the Atlantic. Much is speculative, and I hope will suggest fruitful areas for further research. The chapter’s organization is thematic rather than chronological or geographical. It uses Boston as its main example, and other American places where they add layers to the story. I do not attempt to summarize the whole story of the early preservation movement in the US, or in Boston. The European side of the comparison can even less pretend to comprehensiveness. Like Americans during this period, I look first to Great Britain and France.1