By Steve Hartley
“We should be able to find someone who can restore that leaded glass...or plaster ceiling...or crumbling brick chimney.”
This is a common lament around preservation projects, as building owners struggle to find craftspeople who know how to work with historic materials. While the appreciation for traditional architecture increases, the supply of artisans trained in the techniques that people venerate continues to diminish. This disappearance of traditional craft practitioners is one of the greatest threats to our historic places. As these older practitioners leave the workforce, fewer young people are replacing them in the field.
The lack of qualified craft practitioners has been noted as far back as 1967 in the Whitehill Report. Commissioned by the National Trust, the report noted “These ancient crafts are a significant part of our national cultural resources. Their continuation as a living tradition is essential to insure the authentic conservation of our early buildings.” Some 50 years later, little has been done to address the problems noted within the report. Organizations such as the Preservation Trades Network, the Association for Preservation Technology as well as specialized groups such as the Timber Framers Guild and American Glass Guild have promoted traditional craft skills within the field, however, opportunities for formal education in preservation crafts in the United States are still limited.... Read More →