American Latino Preservation Toolkit

Local Preservation

All historic preservation is local, as the saying goes. A local historic preservation plan is one of the strongest tools available for preserving our valued heritage properties. Such a plan is even stronger when it is closely linked into the local land-use decision-making process. The NPS’s Historic Preservation Planning Program is a good place to get information on preservation planning, local preservation commissions, and tips on how citizens can become engaged in historic preservation efforts in their community.

For an introduction to local historic preservation law and the role of local historic preservation commissions visit the National Trust’s law resource page

The work of local preservation organizations is vital to historic preservation efforts. Some large local organizations include the Los Angeles Conservancy, a nonprofit membership organization that believes that, “ultimately, preservation isn’t about buildings- it’s about people.” The Conservancy, through its community outreach efforts, help, “people discover, celebrate, and protect that rich cultural heritage that we all share.”

SurveyLA is an initiative by the city of Los Angeles survey to engage citizens in the city’s first comprehensive program to identify its historic resources. The city counts on community input for the success of the program. Visit My Historic LA to learn how you can discuss important places in your community. A Spanish language description of SurveyLA is also available (En Español)

East Harlem Preservation, a volunteer advocacy organization, strives to “preserve and promote” East Harlem’s diversity of resources. East Harlem Preservation also provides the neighborhood with news on issues of concern to the public, such as development plans or public health announcements.

What should you do if a significant building is being threatened or if you have a local preservation issue? One of the best ways to get help is to contact a local preservation organization or a statewide preservation advocacy group. Find an organization near you with the help of the National Trust’s contacts website.

Where can you find inspiration? You’ll find that there are many ways to preserve a communities’ heritage. The Norris Square Community Project, a “community driven, bi-lingual learning center in North Philadelphia,” promotes Latino culture through culturally themed urban gardens, such as the “Villa Africana Colobo’,” which honors Puerto Rico’s African heritage.

illa Africana Colobo’,” which honors Puerto Rico’s African heritage

Casa Maldonado

The Casa Maldonado is a nearly-century old building, which has served the Westside Community in many ways and tells a piece of the Westside story that is seldom remembered and rarely documented. Casa Maldonado was the birthplace of civic leader and union organizer William Maldonado and served as a tavern, fruit store, thrift store, and offices. The house has been empty since 2004.


Get your young people involved! Youth Summits provide exciting, on-site, interactive learning experiences for students and professionals. These experiences encourage students to participate in the study of historic preservation, conservation, and heritage tourism issues and empower students to share their ideas with leaders in these fields. The NPS has developed a “How-To” guide for managing and presenting a Youth Summit.


Toolkit Resources