Historic Preservation Planning and Research

CHAD views historic preservation from a planning perspective.  This can range from planning the restoration or rehabilitation of a historic building to forecasting the impact of development on an historic landscape.  Preservation planning can also be thematically related to a particular issue such as the planning of scenic and historic highways, in which CHAD has been involved.  CHAD has been heavily involved in land use and historic preservation planning and design issues since the Delaware State Historic Preservation Plan was written in 1989.  As the definition of historic resources has been broadened to include landscape in a broader context, preservation has become more integrated with land use planning.

Delaware State Comprehensive Historic Preservation Plan.  Working with the State Historic Preservation Office, CHAD staff wrote the Delaware State Historic Preservation Plan which has been used to guide preservation decisions in Delaware since 1990.  Since then, CHAD has written several historic contexts implementing the plan.

National Register and Historic Suburbs.  To be considered for the National Register of Historic Places, a property must be at least 50 years old.  This means that recently all of the post-World War II suburban boom has become eligible for listing on the Register—an avalanche of properties.  CHAD staff anticipated this, and in 1997 wrote one of the first evaluations of suburbs as historic properties for eligibility for the National Register of Historic Places in the United States. Based on that, David Ames was asked by the National Register to develop evaluation guidelines at the national level. They were published as David L. Ames and Linda Flint McClelland, Historic Residential Suburbs: Guidelines for the Evaluation and Documentation for the National Register of Historic Places, 2002.

In the last four years, historic preservation planning at CHAD has concentrated on the themes of transportation, economic development, and tourism. CHAD is a co-sponsor of the University Transportation Center.  

Preservation and Transportation - Scenic and Historic Highways and Bridges.  Under contract to the Delaware Department of Transportation in the last four years, CHAD has been researching and preparing nominations to the Scenic and Historic Highways Program and developing technical assistance manuals for communities to prepare nominations and to complete corridor management plans for roads designated as Scenic and Historic Highways. Promoting tourism is one purpose of Scenic and Historic Highways.  In the past year, CHAD completed a nomination for a Scenic and Historic Highway in Western Sussex County.

In conjunction with Maryland, and working with the Delaware Underground Railroad Coalition, CHAD is completing a nomination for Underground Railroad Scenic and Historic Highways.  Beginning in Kent County, the road runs east to Camden and Dover and then northeast to Odessa.  From there it continues to Wilmington where abolitionist Thomas Garrett helped Freedom Seekers on to free Pennsylvania.  Harriet Tubman, the most famous conductor, made several trips through Delaware. The long-range plan is that, with Maryland, the route will become a National Scenic Byway.

Preservation, Economic Development and Tourism.  As historic preservation and cultural resources are increasingly considered revitalization and economic development strategies, CHAD has pursued projects linking economic development and tourism to preservation. The University of Delaware is supporting a Coastal Community Enhancement Initiative Program to conduct research on the impact of growth on Delaware’s coastal communities. CHAD received one of the initial grants to evaluate the impact of growth on Sussex County’s heritage resources and to develop strategies to promote heritage tourism as an economic development tool.