Theses (Historic Preservation)

Document Type

Thesis or dissertation

Date of this Version



Suggested Citation:

Hessmiller, Elizabeth Rose (2013). Saving Each Other: Using Historic Preservation as a Tool for Therapeutic City Planning. (Masters Thesis). University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA.


Therapeutic, or reparative, planning is city planning that focuses on reestablishing trust and good will with communities historically marginalized by planning in order to better serve them as the city continues to evolve. The way to do reparative planning is debated by scholars. The idea of therapeutic planning is not so much about apologizing for apology’s sake as it is about repairing wounds so that planners can continue to work for the public good while engaging a greater diversity of stakeholders.

This work explores the potential of historic preservation to serve as a tool in the pursuit of therapeutic planning. The hypothesis is that by preserving and honoring sites that hold significance for marginalized populations creates a sense of belonging in the city for these communities. This work explores if ownership of space increases when we honestly confront past planning errors and use thoughtful preservation to heal the wounds those errors created.


ownership of space, trauma, queer space, reparative planning, community healing



Date Posted: 25 February 2014