Part I  Part II Part III

The History of NACP, Part I

The National Alliance of Preservation Commissions was established in 1983, namely in response to the 1980 amendments to the National Historic Preservation Act.  These amendments provided, for the first time, direct federal financial assistance to preservation commissions whose local government met the standards of the new Certified Local Government program. By the early 1980s there were thousands of commissions who were dealing with development pressures in historic areas.  What was clearly absent was a forum for the discussion of mutual problems and a national voice representing the particular needs of commissions.

G. Bernard Callan, Chair of the Frederick, Maryland Historic Preservation Commission, took the lead in calling for an alliance of commissions throughout the United States.  Commissions were invited to send representatives to Charleston, South Carolina in 1983 to discuss articles of incorporation for a new organization.  Those present formally voted to establish the Alliance, to elect Bernie Callan as Board Chair, and to appoint Cherilyn Widdell as Executive Director.

The Alliance launched its first program in October 1983 in conjunction with the National Preservation Conference in San Antonio, Texas.  Commissioners from around the country met to discuss such topics as design guidelines, educating the public, and running an effective meeting.   Commission interests were soon represented at countless meetings of the National Park Service (NPS), the National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP), and the National Conference of State Historic Preservation Officers (NCSHPO), as well as on Capitol Hill at budget and other Congressional hearings and meetings about the national preservation programs.

NAPC’s low cost membership dues reflected the grass roots, mostly volunteer, status of most communities’ preservation commissions.  Dues supported publishing the Alliance Review and other costs.  The fledgling organization relied heavily on grants, primarily from the NPS and NCSHPO. This funding provided support for ground breaking activities, including a series of workshops. Between 1983 and 1987, NAPC partnered with a variety of national partners like the National Association of Homebuilders, NPS, NTHP, and NCSHPO. In 1987, workshops for the CLG Coordinators within the State Historic Preservation Offices were held in each of the National Park Service regions. Part II