Saving the Best to Last (Hardcover)

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In a tale of two cities, Worcester in the late 1960s was simultaneously preparing to break ground on one of the nation’s largest urban redevelopment schemes downtown while a small group of volunteers with much less fanfare was hatching what we know of today as Preservation Worcester. The former was a top down initiative rife with unintended consequences including the decline of Main Street. The latter was a bottom up, citizen-driven initiative whose practices and principles have organically spawned multiple independent redevelopment projects throughout the city over the past five decades. Much of the urban redevelopment initiative including the Milan-inspired Galleria and its massive parking garage has been razed. By contrast, many of PW’s projects—major ones including Mechanics Hall and Union Station; neighborhood initiatives in Crown Hill and Quinsigamond Village; recent ones like Stearns Tavern—have both succeeded in their own right and inspired related projects independent of PW. As recounted here, during the past five decades PW has played “way above its weight.”
The eclectic essays in Saving the Best to Last: Preservation Worcester 1969-2019 tell the PW story from different vantage points. Jock Herron offers both an introduction and a brief history of the organization—the people and the projects, the successes and the failures. Long serving PW architectural historian Susan Ceccacci recalls PW’s evolution from her distinct perspective. Activist and developer, Allen Fletcher writes about the transformation of the city’s Canal District—a project independent of PW that illustrates the economic and social potency of preservation. Frank Herron provides a meditation on the cultural implications of local preservation. Several Worcester Telegram reporters offer insights into various Worcester neighborhoods. Finally, PW Executive Director Deborah Packard closes with a view to the future.
PW’s accomplishments—some of which have involved confrontational tactics at the outset—have ultimately depended on strategic collaborations with a diverse range of public and private partners. Using limited funds and the goodwill and expertise of volunteers, PW’s success has turned on values, ideas, education and service rather than any formal authority—“soft power” in Joseph Nye’s memorable phrase.

Product Details
ISBN: 9780997848298
Publisher: TidePool Press
Publication Date: November 1st, 2019
Pages: 188