This past fall, SHRA had the opportunity to support a scholarship for a deserving historian to attend the National Trust for Historic Preservation’s 2012 Historic Preservation Conference in Spokane, Washington. Collaborating with Preservation Idaho to fund the scholarship, SHRA’s contribution allowed the recipient not only to travel, but also to participate in the conference’s orientation, educational and field sessions. The 2012 conference was held October 31-November 3 at the historic Davenport Hotel. After a competitive process, Brandi Burns, a historian with the City of Boise, was selected by Preservation Idaho as a 2012 scholarship recipient. After her trip, SHRA had the pleasure of sitting down with Brandi to discuss her experience.
When asked what prompted her to apply for the scholarship, Burns explained her motivation was community based. As the staff historian for the Boise City Department of Arts and History, she often works with Boise’s local Historic Districts, Idaho’s State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) branch, and the Boise City Historic Preservation Commission. For Burns, attending the Historic Preservation Conference allowed her to expand her understanding of the historic preservation field. An active public servant, she believes her participation at the conference will allow newly developed relationships to strengthen and increase the opportunities for the Department of Arts and History to increase its advocacy role in the Boise community.
For Burns, attending the conference also sparked a new way of approaching history. A graduate of the Boise State University Master in Applied Historical Research program, Burns has impressive experience in cogently relaying history to the general public. However, the conference provided a new understanding of how historic architecture and stories are invariably interconnected. Burns cited architecture as a way to attract people to places that hold immense historical significance. She explained “architecture lures people to places, which provides the opportunity to tell the stories the building and location possess.”
The City of Spokane served as inspiration to Burns as well. Upon receiving the scholarship, she committed to becoming a “heritage tourist” and made an effort to go on historic walking tours that Spokane had to offer. Her enthusiasm proved beneficial. Burns explained how the conference experience aided in a project she is currently working on for 2013’s Boise Sesquicentennial Celebration. At the moment, Burns is diligently working on a project she calls the “Original 1863 Plat Walking Tour.” The tour will take participants on a journey around the first 10 blocks platted in Boise. She plans on using the information she obtained at the conference as she guides tours in July of 2013.
Incidentally, the theme for the Historic Preservation Conference this year was “Beyond Boundaries.” It seems Brandi Burns took that sentiment to heart, as she continues to innovatively approach and relay history to the Boise community.
For more information on Preservation Idaho, please visit: http://preservationidaho.org/
Posted January 12, 2013