History of the Center

Red brick, two-story building with central steps and door
Staff in front of Lee H. Nelson Hall

NPS Photo

NCPTT was founded in 1994 on the campus of Northwestern State University of Louisiana in Natchitoches, Louisiana. In May of 2001, the Center moved into its new headquarters in the recently renovated Women’s Gymnasium, and renamed the building in honor of Lee H. Nelson, the distinguished National Park Service architect and preservation pioneer. Lee H. Nelson Hall is one of the oldest surviving structures on the Northwestern State University campus.

The genesis of NCPTT began in September 1986 when the US Congress’ Office of Technology Assessment published Technologies for Prehistoric & Historic Preservation. The assessment cited the critical need to establish a federally funded institution “as a mechanism to coordinate research, disseminate information, and provide training about new technologies for preservation.”

One of the strategies for implementing the OTA report findings was the recommendation to establish a “Federal Center for Preservation Technology” within the Department of the Interior.

Recommendations for a national research and development organization devoted to technical issues in preservation were adapted into legislation as part of the National Historic Preservation Act Amendments of 1992. The legislation established the National Center for Preservation Technology and Training, an advisory board (the Preservation Technology and Training Board), and the Preservation Technology and Training Grants program as major components of a new “national initiative to coordinate and promote research, distribute information, and provide training about preservation skills and technologies.”

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    Last updated: March 25, 2021