Generally speaking, historic resources can stand the test of time quite well. They are resilient in the face of neglect and lack of use. However, the last fifteen months of the COVID health emergency has been international in its scope and debilitating in its societal impact.
For preservation and history non-profits it has meant a severe reduction in programming and associated revenue. Despite incredible innovations in virtual tours and online programming, most house museums and other historic sites are meant to be experienced in person. To transition to new models of education and content has required immense creativity – all while facing losses in ticket sales, school trips, and in-person fundraisers which have been impossible during the pandemic.
For historic resources used for commercial purposes, the impact has been great as well. Restaurants, performance venues, event spaces, bed & breakfasts and other hospitality, and retail operations all had to shutter their operations to various degrees during the pandemic. Though programming may be on-hold, maintenance expenses, utilities, rent and mortgage payments continue.
The resilience of these places and the people who operate them should not be underestimated. We will make it through this difficult time. But, historic resources will need our support. They will need us to visit their sites, support their fundraisers, shop in their stores, and dine in the gracious hearthed rooms, and stay in their welcoming inns. The architecture will last through this pandemic. It is incumbent upon all of us to ensure that the proprietors of these storied places last and thrive as well.