Context Is Everything: How to Prepare and Use Historic Context Statements

This workshop includes free access to our one-hour live webinar (or its recording): Historic Context Statements: A Primer at no additional cost. Simply register for this live or broadcast program and you will receive the other webinar by email.

In preservation practice, historic context statements represent the essential starting point for evaluations and surveys. As noted in National Register Bulletin 15, “the significance of a historic property can be judged and explained only when it is evaluated within its historic context.”

Even so, over the last 20 years, an important shift has taken place in how historic context statements are used. The increasing use of thematic and multiple property-based historic context statements has enhanced our ability to consider social and cultural significance in evaluations. Whether in citywide surveys or individual assessments, using a thorough, comparative historic context statement can make the difference between a survey that only captures architectural gems and a survey that also identifies properties with social and cultural significance within the community.

In this way, a well-crafted historic context statement can help cities and surveyors identify resources that would otherwise go undetected.

This is a workshop designed for all those who scope for and commission, advocate for, prepare, and vet historic context statements. In this workshop, we will explore how you can (and why you should) commission and prepare a historic context statement for your own community or city. Sessions will include a primer on historic context statements, what they are (and are not), how they ideally should be used, and how to start the conversation in your own community about how to commission one.


Heather Goers, MHP, Architectural Historian, HRG; Debi Howell-Ardila, MHP, Senior Architectural Historian, Rincon Consultants; Christopher Koontz, AICP, Planning Bureau Manager, Long Beach Development Services; Jesse Lattig, MSc, Senior Architectural Historian, ICF International; Elysha Paluszek, MHP, Associate Architecture Historian, GPA; M. Rosalind Sagara, MHP, Neighborhood Outreach Coordinator, LA Conservancy; Nels Youngborg, MA, Senior Associate, Chattel, Inc. | Historic Preservation Consultants

Learning Objectives

  1. What a Historic Context Statement is (and is not), for city planners, stakeholders/advocates, and consultants
  2. How to advocate for and fund a Historic Context Statement in your town, whether city-wide or focused on a single theme
  3. How to apply best professional practices and the latest online archival sources to create a thorough, comprehensive Historic Context Statement
  4. What the National Park Service “Multiple Property Documentation Format” means for your context, and why it is the gold standard for contexts
  5. Lessons learned from a panel of city planners, historic preservation consultants, and stakeholders in commissioning and using effective Historic Context Statements