How did Beyond Integrity in (X) come to be?

Equity in Historic Preservation

What began as a response to the city of Seattle's Landmarks Preservation Board vote in 2014 to not landmark the first Black-owned bank in the Pacific Northwest, Liberty Bank, became Beyond Integrity King County. Then Preservation Director for 4Culture, Flo Lentz assembled a group of preservationists in King County and Tacoma to brainstorm ways to address equity in preservation as it relates to the landmarking process.

Flo, a nationally-recognized preservationist, saw a pattern of votes against landmarking culturally significant properties and sites that lacked architectural integrity, from the local level all the way up to the federal ranks at the Secretary of the Interior, the keeper of the National Register of Historic Places.

And so, what the group first called "Equity in Preservation," evolved to become "Beyond Integrity," so named by K. Kennedy Whiters and approved by the other members.*

In 2021, Kennedy, in response to hearing interest in the work of Beyond Integrity in King County at the inaugural 2020 Dismantle Preservation Conference, and learning of other equity in preservation activity in New York, has expanded the initiative to Beyond Integrity in (X). The "X" is for any city, county, state, etc. in the US. The goal of Beyond Integrity in X is to use the power of maps to cross-pollinate ideas that will support existing dialogue among fellow preservationists or be a catalyst for new discussions with their local landmarks boards/commissions on why they should look beyond integrity in the landmark process.

Note: This work acknowledges that listing on the National Register of Historic Places or a local register does not necessarily save a property from demolition. Instead, what it does is keep it in the collective memory of our country's history. Yes, in some jurisdictions, placement on a landmark register is an honorarium. It is an honorarium that says that the history tied to this place, the people associated with that history, matter, to our collective US history. To that end, landmarking matters.

* Founding Members of Beyond Integrity King County, in no particular order: Holly Taylor, Lauren Hoogkamer, Manish Chalana, Krista "Kennedy" Whiters, Eugenia Woo, Claudia Kiyama, Jennifer Meisner, Doreen Mitchum (4Culture Staff), Brandi Link (4Culture Staff), and Flo Lentz (4Culture Staff).

- k. kennedy Whiters AIA, 16 February 2021

Visit the Beyond Integrity King County website, site visited Feb. 6, 2021.