Help us build a better toolbox.

The Organizers Preservation Toolbox is for those who are part of (or interested in forming) a neighborhood or community group. This can also include people working with historic cemeteries and churches. Each TOOL below includes a brief overview with links to more detailed information from the most qualified sources. Each tool includes STRATEGIES, examples of best practices and proven solutions, along with potential PARTNERS for collaboration.

Tool ♦ How To Save a Building

Learn about the steps needed to save a distressed property.

Margaret Mead said “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” We believe this is very true and it is possible for a community of individuals to come together and save a building or neighborhood. Our toolbox will be expanding on this subject, but for now the Michigan Historic Preservation Network has put together a handy reference tool on the matter: HOW TO SAVE A BUILDING: A Grassroots Guide for Local Preservationists. Lear more about funding sources from the National Trust’s Fundamentals of Fundraising for Preservation Projects.

Tool ♦ How To Inspect A Historic Structure

Tips for evaluating historic structures.

Historic preservation treats historic buildings in one of four ways: preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, or reconstruction. No matter which treatment you ultimately choose, you must first assess the condition of your historic structure. Condition assessments are a holistic approach to understanding how buildings were constructed, used, and maintained, and the various mechanisms that affect their structural and material condition. Whether done for research purposes or as a precursor to restoration work, all condition assessments have two primary objectives: to identify materials and features, and evaluate their condition.

Strategies ♦  The National Center for Preservation Technology and Training provides these Tips For Historic Building Owners. Be sure to read the National Park Service Preservation Brief No. 34, Understanding Old Buildings:The Process of Architectural Investigation. Consider using the California Park Structure Assessment Checklist. Watch a training video.

Tool ♦ How to Preserve Historic Cemeteries and Burial Grounds

Read this article on How to Preserve Historic Cemeteries and Burial Grounds from the National Trust. Drop by Historic Westwood and visit our resource center which includes the National Trust Preservation of Historic Burial Grounds publication and National Register Bulletin No. 41 Guidelines for Evaluating and Registering Cemeteries and Burial Places. Read state statutes on termination of a cemetery. Have a cemetery on your property? Read this quick guide from the State of Tennessee.

Strategies ♦  Learn from cemetery preservation publications used in Michigan and Texas. Read about the East Tennessee Community Design Center’s proposal for the Westview Cemetery District in Knoxville and how it would create a more park-like environment. Saving Graves, is a website dedicated to the protection, restoration, and preservation of endangered cemeteries worldwide and is a free-access online resource that provides to its visitors a wide assortment of preservation information and records. The Advisory Council on Historic Preservation has compiled various grant resources on their website which may offer funding assistance opportunities.

Partners ♦ If you encounter human remains while building or digging – STOP! Do not remove any bones or objects near the bones. Notify the Tennessee Division of Archaeology immediately for guidance.

Tool: African American Resources

Preserving African American Historic Places: Suggestions and Sources is now available on the CHP’s Web site for the use of our partners throughout the state. The guide directs readers to a myriad of resources useful for the preservation and interpretation of historic places. It also features in-depth essays that provide context for these places, with sections on cemeteries, churches, schools, businesses, lodges, farms, houses, and neighborhoods. With links to numerous digital resources, “Preserving African American Historic Places” covers such topics as heritage tourism, collections care, fundraising, and museum management.

Tool: Fundraising to Save Historic Churches

America’s older and historic churches, synagogues, meetinghouses, temples, and mosques are blessings to their congregations and their neighborhoods, but they also require regular repair and an occasional major overhaul. Sometimes the sheer cost of such maintenance seems overwhelming. Partners for Sacred Places has created an online guide designed to aid in fundraising planning: to understand the needs of your older house of worship; to decide whether to begin a capital campaign in your congregation; and to extend your campaign to your community and other funders. You’ll learn how to determine what you and your congregation can do yourselves, and when you’ll need professional help. And in the process, you may find your vision and your ministry enhanced as you think outside your own walls. Raising money can be intimidating, but it can also be an exciting catalyst for new community outreach. Visit the Fundraising Guide HERE.

Tool ♦ Books on Preservation

Find the reference book that’s right for you: Preservation Bookstore on; 13 Essential Preservation Books from the National Trust