Building a legacy: people, politics, and historic preservation in Sacramento

In December of 1974, the Sacramento City Council adopted the city’s first historic preservation ordinance. The measure represented a triumph for Sacramento’s citizen preservationists. Seeking to strengthen the city’s livability, they wasted little time in pursuing a new life for Sacramento’s oldest residential buildings. The members of the City Council also embraced preservation’s possibilities. Their efforts were focused on re-using the elements of the city’s commercial past. Despite their differing priorities, the people and politicians worked together to advance preservation’s role within the planning of California’s capital city. This study illuminates the multiple faces of historic preservation in Sacramento. Drawing upon archival records as well as written media accounts, it provides a portrait of a discipline’s evolution. How that transformation took place, who was affected by it, and why it was significant are all filtered through the prism of where the changes occurred.