Almanack Contributor Steven Engelhart

Steven Engelhart

Steven Engelhart is the Executive Director of Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH), the regional historic preservation organization of the Adirondack Park. AARCH's mission is to promote better public understanding, appreciation and stewardship of the region's built environment.

Among AARCH's many activities are: sponsoring a series of tours of historic places; offering workshops; giving slide presentations; publishing a newsletter; managing Camp Santanoni, advocating on behalf of threatened historic sites; and providing technical assistance to individuals, organizations and local governments.

Steven is a native of the region and has a BA from SUNY Plattsburgh and a MS in historic preservation from the University of Vermont. He is the author of Crossing the River: Historic Bridges of the AuSable River, a small book about bridges and local history of the AuSable Valley. He resides in Wadhams and loves to hike, canoe, read, play the banjo, explore the region, and spend time with family and friends.


Tuesday, June 9, 2020

Reflections on White Pine Camp

We at Adirondack Architectural Heritage were devastated to hear of the terrible fire that engulfed several of the buildings at White Pine Camp on Sunday evening. By Monday morning, we learned that the fire had been contained to a cluster of buildings in what was the former service complex and that the camp’s Main Lodge, lakeside cabins, boathouses, and other buildings were spared.

» Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Historic Preservation Myths: It Cost Too Much

Town of Westport Town Hall courtesy Press-RepublicanThis is the last a four part series. You can find the first part here.

Historic preservation has a set of myths. Some originate from a grain of truth, many are outright wrong, and still others require a more nuanced understanding. We run across these myths all the time in our work and constantly push back against them through education, persuasion, and the wisdom of our own experiences. In this series, we take on the four most persistent and sometimes damaging myths in our field.

» Continue Reading.


Sunday, March 8, 2020

Historic Preservation Energy Efficiency Myths

historic preservation illustration

Myths pervade most aspects of life and they can be very persistent. Whether it’s “we only use 10% of our brain” or “George Washington had wooden teeth” these myths can be relatively harmless  – or they can really get in the way of true understanding and action.

Historic preservation has its own set of myths. Some originate from a grain of truth, many are outright wrong, and still others require a more nuanced understanding. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, March 5, 2020

Historic Preservation Myths: Government Money

Homeowner Hannah Hanford at her home in Saranac Lake provided by AARCH

Myths pervade most aspects of life and they can be very persistent. Whether it’s “we only use 10% of our brain” or “George Washington had wooden teeth” these myths can be relatively harmless  – or they can really get in the way of true understanding and action.

Historic preservation has its own set of myths. Some originate from a grain of truth, many are outright wrong, and still others require a more nuanced understanding. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 2, 2020

Busting Historic Preservation Myths

former 1927 Willsboro High School into the Champlain Valley Senior CommunityMyths pervade most aspects of life and they can be very persistent. Whether it’s “we only use 10% of our brain” or “George Washington had wooden teeth” these myths can be relatively harmless  – or they can really get in the way of true understanding and action.

Historic preservation has its own set of myths. Some originate from a grain of truth, many are outright wrong, and still others require a more nuanced understanding. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 17, 2020

Embedawatt: Valuing What We Have

symbol for the Embedawatt as envisioned by AARCHA recent opinion piece in the New York Times targeted historic preservation as an out-of-touch field that negatively impacts communities, as well as a movement that does not support building a more sustainable, environmentally-friendly planet. Alongside the responses of my historic preservation colleagues, I’d like to respectfully disagree with the Times piece, too.

Of the dozens of ways that historic preservation makes communities more vibrant, humane, and sustainable, I’d like to highlight a little understood and little appreciated virtue and value of existing buildings – their embodied energy.

At Adirondack Architectural Heritage we’ve invented a word for this value – Embedawatt. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 12, 2019

What Shall We Call This?

tree along the trail to the top of Goodnow Mountain has been called the Octopus TreeAnyone who’s spent time in the woods has seen them, a tree growing on top of a large stone or boulder, with its roots winding down around the stone to find nourishment, finally, in the surrounding earth.

The tree could be a yellow birch or a spruce and we see them in many stages of their lives from seedlings growing out of a bed of moss and ferns to very mature trees.

They are one of the great curiosities of the woods, often causing one to stop and examine, marveling at the tenacity and beauty of life. Surely this peculiar plant and stone association must have a name? » Continue Reading.


Sunday, July 8, 2018

Ensuring Even Greater Success at Camp Santanoni

Santanoni Main Lodge from Air by Jed ThoneWe appreciate Dave Gibson taking an interest in the future of Camp Santanoni (“Bill Would Wrest Away Santanoni Success”) and there’s much about his piece we agree with.

There are also a few significant errors that should be addressed and, most importantly, we’d like to try to answer the question posed by the recent, proposed Santanoni legislation – why might OPRHP be a better state steward than DEC? » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, May 17, 2017

100 Mile House: Local Economies and Sustainability

Left Mace Chasm Road farmhouse, Keeseville. Right WarrensburghIn many aspects of AARCH’s work — lectures, tours, workshops, advocacy, and other educational offerings — we make the case for the preservation of historic buildings.

• Historic buildings have aesthetic appeal.
• Buildings and places connect us to our history as well as shaping our individual and collective identity.
• Historic preservation is rich in new economic opportunities.
• The preservation of historic buildings can be transformational for communities.
• Using existing buildings and concentrating new growth in already settled areas is both good for the vitality of a community and helps to protect wild and open spaces.

And all of this helps to make our communities better places to live, work, and visit. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Steven Engelhart: Every Community Needs a Beating Heart

Old Forge Hardware CompanyThere is overwhelming evidence that the most successful communities — with thriving economies, healthy schools and social and cultural institutions — are those that embrace their own history and preserve their historic buildings. Good jobs, protection of natural resources, and good leadership are perhaps even more important. Historic preservation is a critical element in the revitalization of struggling communities and it is a visible expression of a community investing in itself and improving its own quality of life.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) has always been a strong advocate for the connection between historic preservation and community vitality. We work to preserve individual buildings, yes, but we also advocate for preservation because historic places can become affordable housing, attractive spaces for businesses, innovative cultural centers, new farms, restaurants and other attractions. Preservation is about finding new uses for historic structures, not just saving buildings. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 17, 2017

Steven Engelhart: What Makes Historic Preservation Irresistible

The Church of the Transfiguration Our Vermont friends behind “Preservation in Pink” define historic preservation as “an eternally optimistic, inspiring field intent on improving present and future quality of life through the appreciation of our built and cultural heritage.” Although we are still a long way from being a nation or a region of true historic preservationists, we are increasingly becoming more preservation-minded as the intersections between preservation and common sense, community health, good stewardship, and sustainability becomes better understood.

So what makes historic preservation so attractive, even irresistible? » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 3, 2017

Steven Engelhart: Making of a Preservationist

Steven Engelhart group

I grew up in Plattsburgh, which I think makes me a local. My father was a professor at SUNY Plattsburgh and taught the literature of Emerson and Thoreau and other late 19th  century American writers.

When a PBS documentary was made in the 1990s about the creation of the Adirondack Park, he was interviewed about Emerson and his outing to the Philosopher’s Camp in 1858. Like Emerson, he had a deep appreciation for nature, which we all inherited, but I can’t say that this translated into wilderness adventuring as a family. This I would discover later on my own. » Continue Reading.



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