This interview was recorded at the Are We There Yet: Preservation of Roadside Architecture and Attractions Symposium, April 10-12, 2018, Tulsa, Oklahoma
What drew you to this symposium?
So, the thing that really drew me to this symposium was the connection to Route 66. And the National Trust is taking a big interested in Route 66 this year, there are some major threats that are happening to the route with the potential elimination of a National Park Service program. And so we’re working on trying to get a National Historic Trail designation. So the symposium was really a great opportunity for us to meet with other like minded people, to learn more about Route 66, to learn more about other places that have a like minded interested in roadside architecture, and look at ways to build partnerships.
What are you currently working on in roadside architecture?
As I said, the project we’re working on is connected to Route 66. We are looking at a way of trying to have Route 66 designated … To secure a permanent federal designation as a National Historic Trail. That is no small feat. It literally takes an act of Congress for something to become a National Historic Trail. There are only nineteen National Historic Trails today, even though the program has been in existence for fifty years. The good news is that we’ve made considerable progress towards getting this designation. There was a bill that was introduced by Representative Darren LaHood from Illinois back in 2017. We’ve gotten 21 co-sponsors for the bill, a mix of Republicans and Democrats. The bill was actually passed unanimously out of the Natural Resources Committee. And is now awaiting review by the House, the Senate, and then ultimately the President. Those are obviously big hurdles. We have until December 31st to be able to do that, so we’ve got a big job in front of us.
What do you hope to take away from this symposium?
I think it’s a combination of both information that we’ve gotten from some of the speakers, you’ve had some spectacular speakers here. And so I’ve really been learning a lot about that. Things that are going to inform the way that we talk about Route 66. But I think, also importantly, we’re making some great connections with people that will be really really helpful to us as we move forward with this campaign.
What draws you to roadside architecture?
Ah. You know, on a personal note, I grew up in San Diego. And, every summer, in the 60s and 70s, my family would load up into the big station wagon and head over the mountains. And we would drive through the Four Corners area, so our summer vacation was the family road trip. And so, for me, it’s a lot of fun to think about ways of celebrating that road trip, and working on it today.
What should be the topic of our next symposium?
In terms of the next topic for a symposium … You know, we’ve heard so much today about social media, and just the ways that the younger generation is getting information today. So, I think if there was something to help those from my generation to understand how you can actually use things like Facebook, and Twitter, and Instagram, and Snapchat, and all these other things that maybe haven’t even been heard of yet, or been created yet. That would be incredibly useful. I think it’s becoming really the way that we need to communicate.
Amy Webb is a heritage tourism specialist with 34 years of hands-on experience in preservation and heritage tourism including work at the national, regional, state and local level. She joined the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 1993 and directed the Trust’s heritage tourism program for sixteen years. In that capacity she worked with individual historic sites as well as regional heritage tourism efforts. Amy holds a Masters in architectural history and historic preservation from the University of Virginia. She currently serves as a Senior Field Director in the National Trust’s Denver Field Office, overseeing the Trust’s field offices in Denver and Houston.