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Historic Preservation: What does it actually mean?

At Applied Worldwide, we describe our services as “Sociology Consulting,” which means we end up engaging in a variety of projects including historic preservation. We are currently working with a group from Gunnison, Colorado called the Hartman Castle Preservation Corporation, an organization with interests in preserving a historic building, with the purpose of providing community space and improving the local economy.

It is a really great project, and we have published several articles about the history behind the building. Some of that content includes’

In short, the man who built the large stone house (castle), is also the man that originally established the current town of Gunnison, and his name is Alonzo Hartman. The house was well ahead of its time as well. Here is one quick story from Hartman’s biography that serves as an example:

[My wife] had a friend who was an artist – Laura Sears. Laura’s husband, Del Sears, was an inventor. A former plumber, he had made enough money to buy a ranch high in the hills. He was a socialist, and as {there was} hardly anybody around with his ideas, he became sort of a hermit. He was also an epileptic and subject to sudden rages that frightened Laura, though when he was himself he was the most gentle of men, refusing to raise cattle because he hated killing anything. He helped me a great deal with the water system for my new house, suggesting a windmill which pumped the water. It was rare to have water in a ranch house then. (Page 9)

It is stories like these that give this building meaning. Throughout our work with this project, we have had to learn several new concepts, which may also be of interest in the field of sociology.

Historic Preservation

Historic preservation involves the conservation, restoration, and protection of significant buildings, landmarks, artifacts, and cultural sites to maintain their historic integrity and ensure their continued relevance for future generations.

In the case of the Hartman Castle Preservation Corporation, they are looking to restore a stone building built prior to 1900. They advocate that restoration is vital in preserving the history of Western Colorado.

Heritage Tourism

Heritage tourism refers to traveling to places with historic, cultural, or natural significance to learn about and experience the traditions, customs, and landmarks of a particular region or community.

Graphic showing definition of heritage tourism for blog titled Historic Preservation: What does it actually mean?

In the case of our project, we expect a restored Hartman Castle to bring tourists that want to learn about and experience the building.

It is important to note that heritage tourism is one benefit to historic preservation, but as PlaceEconomics points out, it is not the only benefit.

Sense of Place

A “sense of place” refers to the emotional connection and unique identity individuals feel toward a particular location, shaped by its physical attributes, history, culture, and community.

Graphic showing definition of sense of place for blog titled Historic Preservation: What does it actually mean?

In the case of this preservation project, the Hartman Castle Preservation Corporation strongly believes that restoring the building will help build a shared sense of place amongst members of the community and visitors alike.

Final Thoughts on Historic Preservation and the Hartman Castle Preservation Project

This historic preservation project has been exciting to take part in. We get to spend a ton of time digging into archival data and using those stories to help people in the Gunnison community develop a sense of place.

PlaceEconomics has a report where they outline 24 reasons why historic preservation is good for communities. It is a great read and includes points like heritage tourism and economic development. As we continue to read through information about historic preservation we encounter words that crossover into sociology, and in other cases we learn about concepts that should crossover into sociology more.

If you would like to learn more about the Hartman Castle project, please visit their website at