Below is the abstract for “Research Directions for Historic Preservation Law,” available for download on SSRN.

Preservation laws govern an ever-increasing range of public and private activities affecting historic properties. Enacted at the federal, tribal, state, and local levels, these laws shape four aspects of preservation practice: designation, public obligations, private constraints, and financial incentives. Unfortunately, research on the scope and impact of these laws has been lacking. Whose history do we preserve? What costs are imposed by historic designation, and on whom? Do preservation regulations prepare us for climate change? Who are the regulators? What legal tools maximize economic activity in general, and equitable growth more specifically?

Considering these and other unanswered questions, this chapter analyzes the status and promise of research about preservation laws, with the aim of inspiring additional inquiry. A richer body of research can help advocates address, rebut, or contextualize contemporary criticism of historic preservation. It can also empower preservationists with more creative ways to keep places that matter alive for the next generation, while responding to an evolving social and environmental context.


Sara C. Bronin

Associate Reporter, The Restatement of the Law Fourth, Property

Sara Bronin is a Professor at Cornell University and Associate Member of Cornell Law School. She is a Mexican-American architect and attorney whose interdisciplinary research focuses on how law and policy can foster more equitable, sustainable, well-designed, and connected places. 


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