Preservation Boot Camp


Welcome to Preservation Boot Camp!

Through this program we will be taking a deep dive into the basics of historic preservation as a discipline and how it can be part of your community. We hope that once you have completed these 14 modules you will feel better prepared to take on your role as an historic preservationist in your community!

The layout for each module is as follows:

  • Introduction – This will be a few sentences to describe the module.
  • Resources – This is the meat of the topic. The resources will be presented in a few ways including documents, PowerPoint presentations and videos, and links to helpful websites.
  • Why This is Important – Here you will find a short description of why it is important for you to know the materials laid out in each module for your position as an Historic Preservation Officer (HPO) or preservation partner.
  • Knowledge Check – We have included at least one question for most modules that is also found on the final quiz at the end of the modules.

Goals for Boot Camp

This training was developed out of a need to provide continuous training to CLG and Main Street communities. We recognize that not all individuals active in preservation programs and efforts have an academic background in preservation or even related fields. Successful preservation relies on a broad range of volunteers and expertise. These modules are designed to help anyone understand the fundamentals of the discipline.In many cities, these programs overlap and individuals in charge of preservation and Main Street programs are the same. While these modules do not replace requirements to meet the Secretary of the Interior’s Professional Qualifications Standards, we do hope this gives you a good introductory understanding of preservation as a whole!


At the end of the modules, you will have the option to send us a completed quiz that will be graded before staff emails you a certificate of completion!

What is Historic Preservation?

How would you define historic preservation?

Historic preservation involves the act of recognizing places from our past that are important to us, caring for those places by utilizing the most appropriate treatment, and then continuing to use them in ways that enrich our lives.

Historic places are IMPORTANT because they represent cultural and architectural heritage, establish a unique sense of community, instill a sense of community proprietorship, enhance local property values, encourage tourism, and foster economic growth and development.

Preservation can mean many things to different people. It can be about acknowledging the important stories around you and then working to preserve them. It could also be about physical places and items such as buildings and clothes, or sites such as Native American lands. Or it can be about material conservation such as siding repair or cultural heritage initiatives like oral history projects.

Please watch the What is Historic Preservation Presentation (Video) to learn more about historic preservation and its history in the United States. 

Why this is important:

Understanding the basics and history of preservation is important because a framework is needed in order to implement an effective preservation program and to educate others on its importance. 

Knowledge Check:

In your own words, describe what historic preservation means to you.

Architectural History & Styles of Texas

Architecture is not just about the buildings that surround us, it is also a vessel by which we can better understand communities and people. 

Texas architecture has been largely influenced by the resources available, advances in construction methods, and the people and cultures that have made this state their home. To get a better understanding of these influences in Texan architecture, review the materials below:Texas architecture has its roots in Native American, post-colonial European, and modern influences. To get a better understanding of architecture in Texas, review the materials below:

The Texas State Historical Association is an excellent resource and also has an article exploring architecture in Texas.  

Another very important and informative resource with photos and drawings is Virginia Savage McAlester’s Field Guide to American Houses

Why this is important:

As an HPO or preservation partner, it is important to have a basic understanding of your community’s architectural styles and influences for identification and documentation, as we will discuss in the next section. This will also help you when reviewing project proposals, and tourism and planning efforts.

Knowledge Check:

During which span of time is mid-century modern style generally ascribed to?

A. 1850-1869
B. 2000s-2010s
C. 1930s-1960s
D. 1910s-1920s

Bonus Activity:Take a minute and explore your community’s architectural styles!

Identification & Documentation

When it comes to preserving historic properties, it is important to first identify and document them. Identification of historic resources begins with historic research which will include visits to archives, libraries, and to the historic site itself to study it. Once research has been conducted and the resource is determined to be historic, documentation can begin. Most often documentation happens through inventories and historic resource surveys.

This Identification and Documentation Brief gives you some ideas on how to conduct research on a resource as well as information about historic resources surveys and oral histories.


Why this is important:

If you do not know what you have, how can you save it? Understanding your options for your community’s resources and how to research them will help you plan for projects in the future and help support designation for those resources.

Knowledge Check:

How can a Sanborn map help in identifying and documenting a resource?

A. They help reveal development patterns
B. They help show building evolution
C. Recorded details like dates of construction, materials, building uses, and lot sizes
D. All of the above


One way to promote preservation is through designation. Designation is a formal process to attach some sort of protection or recognition to a resource and comes after identification and documentation. This can be done at the federal, state, and local level, and all designations can be combined.

Why this is important:

It is important to know about the different types of designations available to you as an HPO or preservation partner in order to lead the designation process for local landmarks and districts, know which properties qualify for incentives, and to know about restrictions on a property and the differences between all the designation types.

Knowledge Check:

What are some of the designations that can be applied to a historic property?

A. National Register listing
B. Recorded Texas Historical Landmark
C. Local-level landmark
D. All of the above

Local Preservation

Preservation starts at the local level with individual community members deciding they want to preserve an important resource. Once a resource has been identified by the community as valuable, they will turn to the city for ways to preserve them. In this module we hope to give you an understanding of all the parts of a local preservation program such as an ordinance overview, roles and responsibilities of the HPO and the commission (both city and county), and local designation. 

Local Preservation (Handout)
Review our Building a Strong Preservation Program Webinar Series for more on the preservation ordinance and design review.

Why this is important:

HPOs are the gatekeepers of local-level preservation. It is important to understand all aspects of a local program and how to implement them to enhance preservation in your community.

Knowledge Check:

What are some of the roles and responsibilities of your commission?

Preservation Laws

This section gives you an introduction to the federal laws that created the foundation for modern preservation. Part of this is understanding what properties can be protected. Not only can buildings such as homes, churches, and courthouses be protected, but other resources such as barns, districts, objects, and sites can be as well. The video presentation below introduces the National Historic Preservation Act, the National Register of Historic Places, Section 106 review, and the National Environmental Policy Act. The link leads you to a list of federal, state, and local laws that give preservation authority at all levels.

Why this is important:

These laws are important for you to know and understand because preservation is often challenged on a legal basis. Documents like preservation ordinances or the authority of a preservation commission are legal and can be defended by pointing to the appropriate statutes. Learning the larger legal framework of preservation will also give understanding to the roles and responsibilities of HPOs and community members.

Knowledge Check:

What law established the Certified Local Government Program?

A. The National Environmental Policy Act
B. The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966
C. The 1980 Amendment to the NHPA
D. None of the Above

What code gives authority for a local preservation program by ‘outlining municipal zoning authority’? (Hint: check the statutes link)

A. The Antiquities Code of Texas
B. Chapter 211 of the Local Government Code
C. Chapter 15 of the Texas Administrative Code
D. None of the Above

Preservation Incentives

One of the most difficult aspects of preservation is finding funding for projects. Many people are unaware of the financial resources that are available to them as they are challenging to find and sometimes confusing to complete. To help make discovering funding easier, we have compiled this resource with a variety of options.  

Preservation Incentives Resources Handout 
Examples of Incentives in Texas Handout

2020 State Tax Credit Report


Why this is important:

Whether you are a new preservation program or well-established, it is important to understand different incentives offered with historic designation to gain support for protection efforts. And invariably an HPO will get the question that starts with, “So I have this old house…” and having a quick understanding of the tools at their disposal will hopefully ensure a good outcome for the owner and the community.

Knowledge Check:

What are some of the preservation incentives available to your community through the THC? Are there any you might be interested in applying for?

Bricks & Mortar Preservation

Bricks and mortar preservation is one of the most common concerns/questions facing Preservation Commissions and Historic Preservation Officers. Most people are aware that the efforts required to preserve historic materials is different than for modern materials, but finding resources with tips and guides on this can be difficult. To help with this we have compiled the excel spreadsheet below. 

Interpreting the Standards will also be a large part of most historic preservation organizations and though no one expects you to have a complete understanding of materials, it helps to have a few good reference points such as:

  • Old growth wood like most siding, is denser, and therefore more rot and termite resistant.
  • Original wood windows, also usually made out of old-growth wood, were made to be taken apart and repaired and do not cause most old building’s heat and air conditioning loss.
  • Masonry should rarely be painted or sand blasted as a means of ‘cleaning.’ The surface will be destroyed and water will seep in causing the stone to deteriorate.

Excel Spreadsheet on Built Environment Resources 

Anatomy of a Double-Hung Window Graphic Handout

Anatomy of a Main Street Building Handout

Why this is important:

Having a basic understanding of the technology of historic buildings is a great tool for preservationists. It will allow you to educate building owners on the best way to preserve materials, make better decisions about design review options using the Standards, and provide better insight to your community’s building stock. 

Knowledge Check:

If an owner came to you and asked where they could find more information on removing graffiti, where would you direct them? (hint: look in the excel sheet)

A. NPS Brief #9
B. NPS Brief #38
C. GSA Tech Notes
D. NPS Brief #21

Public Engagement & Advocacy

The work of a historic preservation commission and the historic preservation officer is for the community you work and live in. Below you will find some resources on how to engage your community in preservation issues.

Why this is important:

In order to get the community to see and benefit from all of your efforts, it is important to find ways to engage with them. This can be done through community outreach events, educational opportunities, and sometimes even advocacy. This will make sure that preservation has a ‘seat at the table’ when decisions for a community are being made.

Knowledge Check:

Based on the material provided here, what sort of public engagement activity would be most well received in your community?

Heritage Tourism

Heritage Tourism is traveling to experience the places and activities that authentically represent the stories and people of the past. As an HPO or Main Street Manager, this is an excellent tool to ensure that preservation is supported and embraced by leadership and the community.

Why this is important:

According to our Heritage Tourism team “Learning about America’s heritage and exploring distinct, authentic communities continues to be a strong motivator for domestic and international travelers. Research continues to show that more people are seeking travel experiences that connect them to local culture and unique stories. Heritage tourism in Texas is a $7.3 billion dollar industry and accounts for more than 10.5 percent of all travel in the state.” Understanding that preservation weaves in economically to your community is a very good tool to have when it comes to making decisions about the goals of your community.

Knowledge Check:

What are some benefits of heritage tourism?

A. Promotes preservation and protection of resources
B. Develops underutilized resources
C. Educates residents and visitors about traditions
D. Identifies the history of a community
E. All of the above

Why Preserve?

As you have learned throughout this course, there are many reasons why preservation is important. One of the best tools you can have to help you educate others about preservation is knowledge on why preservation matters. Below are some resources to help you have a more thorough understanding so you can share with others the positive impact of preservation.

Why this is important:

As an HPO or other member of the preservation community, this question of ‘why should we care’ will always be asked. It is important to understand that preservation is not just one aspect of a community, it is tied into the identity of a place. There will be different types of people who ask questions from different angles, and it is important to be able to address all of them whether it is the financial benefits of preservation, or community-focused and character-based benefits.

Knowledge Check:

What is a benefit(s) of historic preservation?

A. Preserves and Enhances Neighborhood Character
B. Promotes and Preserves Our Cultural and Architectural Heritage
C. Encourages Compatible Infill Construction
D. All of the above

Beyond the Building

As we hope you have learned, historic preservation is so much more than preserving physical resources. Many people are fascinated with the historic environment around them but have difficulty accessing stories that do not have a building attached to them. Therefore, sometimes you have to get creative about how to tell those stories.

Examples include theme studies, digital maps, oral histories, or including cultural resource language in designation criteria and establishing cultural heritage areas. The handout below has some more information on non-built resources.  

Beyond the Building Handout

Why this is important:

While we have focused heavily on the built environment, as an HPO or community leader, it is important to have a holistic view of preservation. This will ensure an intersectional and creative preservation program that is more accessible to your community.

Knowledge Check:

What is an example of a non-built resource?

A. Cultural landscape
B. Historic District
C. The Capitol Building
D. None of the above

Inclusive History

It is critical to think about preservation across various platforms and contexts. History spans across many cultural lines so the stories that are told should be accessible to all. This can look like honoring indigenous lands and history in a survey study, or updating a National Register nomination of a property to include the experience of people of color. 
We at the THC hope to continue this work to help community leaders make sure all histories are seen and accessible.

Undertold Markers 

Inclusive History Resource List Handout

Protecting African American Historic Places in Texas: A Community Legal Toolkit

More coming soon!


Congratulations! You have made it through all modules of Preservation Boot Camp! We hope that you have enjoyed the experience and will provide us with feedback.

Certificate of Completion and Evaluation
Download the quiz and evaluation sheet and return to to receive your certificate of completion!