Beyond the Theme: Community Revitalization-Based Preservation Planning Approaches for Multiple Property Designations
Historic Preservation and Conservation
Multiple Property Submissions (MPS) were established in 1977 as a form of designation under the National Register of Historic Places and are dependent on historic contexts and thematic building types/styles as grounds for significance. This reliance on historic context opened the doors for nominating several vernacular or commonplace buildings and allowed for a more objective approach to evaluating the significance of historic resources. As a form of designation reliant upon local historic contexts that simultaneously contribute to broader national contexts, these frameworks were intended to feed into planning initiatives such as tourism, local oral histories, and educational programming. Tangible links between significant events that have the shaped the places and society we live in today have the potential to enrich and strengthen communities through active use and planning. As such, this thesis focuses on a city with a MPS and examines the implications of this designation and its potential to tie into planning initiatives aimed toward revitalization. The city of Opa-locka, located approximately ten miles northwest of Miami, Florida, was designed under an Arabian Nights theme complete with a progressive master plan based on Garden City principles. Today, Opa-locka is said to contain the largest collection of Moorish Revival style buildings in the United States and is also a city in need of revitalization due to a depressed economy and weak tax base. Can Opa-locka retain and promote its historic architectural heritage and supportively grow beyond its original Arabian Nights theme? This thesis proposes a framework and recommendations for a community revitalization-based preservation plan for the city’s historic resources based on historic planning practices, case studies, and interviews. A community revitalization-based preservation plan would result in a plan cognizant of the area’s needs that would aim to leverage the MPS designation and build beyond its highlighted contexts to endorse the economic benefits of historic preservation. While this work focuses on the city of Opa-locka, the methodologies and recommendations can serve as a case study for revitalization efforts in similar types of municipalities with strong architectural themes or historic character derived from resources listed under a MPS.