#59: Preserving the Granary – Sturgeon Bay - Economics of Uniqueness

Historic cultural heritage is a non-renewable resource. Like archaeology, it is irreplaceable and once it’s gone, it’s gone forever. Many cities and towns across America regret the loss of their heritage, especially in their historic city cores. Furthermore, a building should be expended only under exceptional circumstances.

As Aristotle famously stated, “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.” Integrated conservation targets simultaneously landmarks, historic city cores, housing, and land that collectively have enough character to give each city or town its own unique flavor. While the Granary may seem to be one physically isolated building, it is actually part of an integrated system of local history and represents the agricultural industry that is both the birth and enduring foundation of Door County.

Applying an integrated conservation approach would also link heritage conservation and local economic development, enhancing a downtown where people like to go, meet, live, work, and invest. The “creative class” and millennial generation are looking for less urban areas to live that are affordable, yet have culture and a distinct ‘sense of place’ that makes it feel different from any other. Economists debate and discuss ‘cultural capital,’ which is the culmination of heritage assets in an area that often leads to increased property values, attracts talent and business investment, and increases sense of pride among local residents.

Sturgeon Bay does not have a great deal of historic landmarks remaining and should preserve and adaptively reuse what it still possesses. The Granary forms a significant part of the town’s fabric and essence – and its future requires prudence from the people who will ultimately decide its fate.

Susan Kennedy
International Heritage and Sustainable Tourism Expert
Adjunct Lecturer at Lawrence University in Public History Management

See Document, Economics of Uniqueness

"Cost-Benefit Analysis Confirms the Cultural and Economic Value of Conservation"