Quapaw Quarter's Patricia Blick Says Historic Preservation Can Bring Forth Economic Benefits

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Apr. 17, 2017 12:00 am  

Patricia Blick, executive director of the Quapaw Quarter Association in Little Rock (Jason Burt)

Patricia Blick
Executive Director of the Quapaw Quarter Association in Little Rock

Before coming to the QQA, where she was named executive director in January, Blick was the assistant director of the Arkansas Historic Preservation Program, where she had worked since 2010. Before coming to Arkansas, she was the chief of historic preservation for the city of Annapolis, Maryland. Blick also had served as vice president of preservation and education at the Historic Annapolis Foundation.

Blick has a Master of Arts in American studies and historic preservation from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and a bachelor’s in economics from James Madison University in Harrisonburg, Virginia.

Patricia Blick is the chair-elect of the National Alliance of Preservation Commissions.

Please explain the mission of the Quapaw Quarter Association.

The mission of the QQA is to preserve greater Little Rock’s historic places. Historic places may be commercial buildings, residential homes, whole neighborhoods or even archeological sites. We advocate, educate and sometimes market such places. The QQA owns one such property, the William E. Woodruff House near Hanger Hill, built by the founder of the Arkansas Gazette and stabilized through state and city grant funds and use of the QQA endowment. We hope to sell it soon.

What useful lessons do historic preservation efforts have to teach businesspeople?

Businesspeople sometimes underestimate the economic benefit of historic preservation and may hold misconceptions about preserving historic properties. Some misconceptions: You can’t change a historic building, it is impossible to bring historic buildings up to code, and rehabilitation of historic properties is prohibitively expensive.

Rehabilitation is the sensitive renovation of historic properties for a new use. From a preservationist perspective, the best way to save historic buildings is to keep them in productive use. Historic properties do have challenges when it comes to compliance with current codes, but experienced and creative design professionals can work with city officials to find practical and economically viable solutions to update the properties to modern safety requirements.

Federal and state historic tax credits may also make restoration an efficient solution.

What’s something our readers might be surprised to know about the association?

The QQA will be 50 years old next year. It was incorporated on Nov. 22, 1968. As such, it is one of the two oldest preservation organizations in Arkansas, second only to the Pioneer Washington Foundation. The Spring Tour of Homes, for which the QQA is known by so many, preceded the establishment of the organization! This year’s 53rd Spring Tour of Homes will be held on Mother’s Day weekend in the Governor’s Mansion Historic District, and includes six wonderful historic homes, some of which have never been on tour. In the early years, the tour included the same landmark properties year after year. After the 1975 tour, the QQA has featured mostly single-family homes and has emphasized neighborhood preservation.

How did you get involved in this field?

First, living abroad at an early age, coupled with extensive travel, exposed me to different cultures and architecture. The other influential experience was working at Mount Vernon, the home of George Washington. While I was in high school, my family lived on property that at one time had been part of the Mount Vernon Estate. I worked at the historic site for several years. To say that the experience was transformative is an understatement. At Mount Vernon, you walk in the footsteps of George Washington, you enjoy the property he tended for most of his life, and you share the experience with the visitors. Mount Vernon survived due to very early work of preservationists. That experience was the single greatest influence on my decision to work in the preservation field.



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