William Sumner Appleton and the US Preservation Movement - Sample Essay

Sustenance has been an important aspect of government policy. Maintaining the balance between consumption and preservation must be practiced efficiently to protect the interest the future. Moreover, the idea of preservation can also be seen in the arts and history. Preserving these objects, structures and places from the past ensures the legacy of the event, people and place in history for the next generations to see. This paper will look at one of the catalyst that motivated the institutionalization of the preservation movement in the United States.

His passion of saving and protecting old antiquities that have historical worth motivated other people and groups to the same as well. A person, who underwent all these in order for the future generations to have a real feel of what history looked like in the past; William Sumner Appleton. Before trying to look into Appleton’s contribution with the emergence of the US Preservation Movement, the paper will describe his life, works and endeavors. The next thing that the paper will illustrate is Appleton’s impact on motivating the establishment of the US Preservation Movement.

After such, the paper will elaborate the reasons people protect and save objects that have historical bearing and link it to the way Appleton has influenced other people to do such thing. William Sumner Appleton was born on 1874. A member of an old and wealthy Boston family, Appleton helped save the Revere house — and found his life’s calling. He finished his studies at Harvard with an Arts degree.

His education and extensive travel had equipped him to thoroughly understand the lessons of that restoration. His passion for history and its remnants (e. g. artifacts, objects and structures) made him aware that there needs to be an organization that should ensure its continual protection and preservation. In 1910 he founded the Society for the Preservation of New England Antiquities, the first preservation organization with a regional focus in the country. After the establishment of the SPNEA, Appleton used all his efforts and connections trying to save historical antiquities. Appleton valued hand craftsmanship wherever he found it, whether in an ingenious seventeenth-century door latch or a contemporary Boston-made Arts and Crafts vase.

Appleton was especially interested in houses of the earliest colonial era, later dubbed the First Period, because these humble dwellings were vulnerable to drastic remodeling or even demolition. Upon his death in 1947, Appleton and the SPNEA has saved and preserved numerous historical antiquities and structures. Over the years, the society has held title to nearly 90 properties, and thus has disposed of more than 40 structures. Among the sites SPNEA has successfully saved during Appleton’s time include Swett-Isley house, Coffin house, Spencer-Pierce-Little house and other important historical sites and antiquities.

After looking at the biography of William Sumner Appleton, the paper will elaborate the impact that he made in the formation of the US Preservation Movement. Appleton made a huge contribution to the development of the US Preservation Movement. He was the one who set the standard and benchmark for preservation of historical antiquities. He provided a holistic approach in the selection, preservation and maintenance of antiquities that are deemed important in United States history.

What made Mr. Appleton’s society a model for future groups was that it brought a regional dimension to preservation in America. Contrary before Appleton’s time, “the preservation groups that existed then were concerned with a single property – usually patriotic, sometimes literary – to be used as a museum or headquarters. ” This means that Appleton, raised the awareness for preservation from an individual or interest based objective to a regional or countrywide approach. Thus, participation from other concerned groups can be used to further the cause of preservation.

Another aspect that Appleton contributed to the Preservation Movement is he “took a systematic and pragmatic approach ” By creating a means for documentation of historical antiquities and structures, proper records would be ensured for future references. These records include photographs, drawings and measurements. Given the information of Appleton’s contribution to the formation of US Preservation Movement, the paper will now look at his influence in each individual reason for saving historical antiquities for the future generations.

The paper sees that Appleton gave the people the awareness that these things need to be preserved. It is each and everyone’s manifestation of identity, culture and traditions. These antiquities, structures and objects are the witnesses of changes of man’s existence in this world. Having them preserved means that people cherish their heritage & past and at the same time give chance for future generations to appreciate the beauty that history has to offer during that period of time.

Appleton’s dedication and passion enables the people to be motivated in trying to save a part of history that’s not meant to be forgotten. He gives us the power to make change possible and individual efforts don’t go wasted. But on the other hand can create a compilation of individual efforts that can greatly be beneficial for future generations.


Deedy, John, Preserving Old New England in New York Times, May 19, 1985. accessed September 8,2007 available from http://query. nytimes. com/gst/fullpage. html? res=9B01E3DB123BF93AA25756C0A9639 48260&sec=travel&spon=&pagewanted=print http://www.bopsecrets.org/SI/debord/1.htm