Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Historic Preservation

Committee Chair/Advisor

Amalia Leifeste

Committee Member

Barry Stiefel

Committee Member

Robert Creighton Benedict


Some preservation and economic based initiatives in small cities strive to be the driving force behind revitalization and economic growth. Small cities, especially those distant from major cities, experience periods of shrinkage. These places often struggle to stabilize and grow. Interventions from the local, state, and national levels can assist revitalization efforts with help from planners and redevelopment specialists. These interventions include initiatives with both preservation and economic objectives. Preservation initiatives include revolving funds, tax credits, foundations and advocacy organizations, historic districts, architectural review boards, ordinances, and the Main Street Program. Economic initiatives that include preservation principles and practices include Comprehensive Plans, grants, investment plans, studies, and community development corporations.

This thesis examines the impact of these initiatives in five small cities in Virginia using data in population, employment rate, real estate value, and income level trends. The analysis looks at these factors over time and expects correlations between changes in trajectory of these economic health measures and economic/preservation initiatives work within the cities. Population was the one category that did not have a correlation to initiatives. This demonstrates that preservation initiatives are unlikely to solve a city’s issues of falling population numbers. Unemployment trends demonstrated a correlation to preservation initiatives in three out of the five study cities. Real estate value demonstrated a consistently positive correlation over time. Income level has a weak correlation. These programs were compared to the unemployment rate, real estate value, and income level data to draw final conclusions. 1) Main Street initiatives, 2) Historic District initiatives, 3) Plans, Guidelines, etc. initiatives, 4) Organizations and Programs initiatives and 5) Other initiatives all showed different levels of correlation to positive periods. The Main Street initiatives category did show the greatest correlation to positive periods.

While correlations may occur, additional research would be necessary to establish a direct cause and effect relationship between program establishment and community growth.



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