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Local historian, author and preservation buff William Burg was appointed Tuesday to the Sacramento Heritage, Inc. Board of Directors – an organization dedicated to preserving and promoting the rich history of Sacramento.
It comes as no surprise that Burg should be interested in the position: With three published local history books under his belt, a degree in public history from Sacramento State and years on the boards of both the Sacramento County Historical Society and the Sacramento Old City Association – history is what Burg is all about.
“Public history is for historians who do things other than teach,” Burg said Monday. “It’s for historians working in museums, archivists – anyone interested in the field of historic preservation.”
Sacramento Heritage provides grants and loans to historic properties, conducts historic property surveys and has produced walking tour brochures of many of the city’s historic districts.
Burg said that he wanted to join the Sacramento Heritage Board of Directors because the organization works directly with the city to promote what he refers to as “heritage tourism” – tourism based on the history of a city more than on the entertainment or recreation possibilities.
“Heritage tourism is really important,” Burg said. “Cities with a rich heritage tourism program are beneficial to the local economy.”
Burg said heritage tourists typically stay longer and spend more money in a community than the average tourist.
Heritage tourism can be a big draw to a city, Burg said – if people know what a city has to offer.
“People who want to explore (this) city’s history will usually go to Old Sacramento,” Burg said, “but (they) may not go past I-5 and just don’t know that there are interesting older neighborhoods in the city.”
Another reason for joining the Sacramento Heritage Board of Directors, Burg said, is that he wants to be a part of the work that it does promoting adaptive reuse for old city buildings.
Essentially, instead of using “virgin” resources in construction, adaptive reuse makes the most of what is already there, creating more efficient redevelopment of old buildings.
“Fixing up old buildings creates more jobs per dollar than building new buildings,” Burg said.
According to Burg, in new building construction projects, materials account for half of the cost, and labor accounts for the other half.
In adaptive reuse, the division of cost shifts to two-thirds for labor and only one-third for materials – that means more jobs in the community and a more positive economic effect, Burg said.
“We do have a lot of valuable resources in the city that (are) worth showing to people, and people want to see (them),” Burg said. “These are proven ways to increase jobs and boost our economy.”
Peter Keat, owner of Time Tested Books on 21st Street in Sacramento, has known Burg for more than a decade – some of that time as customer, other times as an author discussing his books on Sacramento history – and Time Tested carries copies of Burg’s books.
“He will be an excellent addition to the (Sacramento Heritage) board,” Keat said. “He is very knowledgeable and well-informed about the history of Sacramento.”
Burg published his first Sacramento history book, “Sacramento’s Streetcars,” in July 2006.
He followed “Streetcars” with two more books, “Sacramento’s Southside Park” in September 2007, and “Sacramento: Then and Now” in September 2008.
Keat said Burg has participated in the store’s monthly Living Library presentations, most recently discussing architecture in the city dating up to the 1930s.
The Living Library is a series of discussions and presentations featuring local artists, historians, writers and other commentators on culture in Sacramento.
“(Burg) will work well in the team environment of a board,” Keat said. “He is very easy to work with.”
According to Katia Ligaiviu, deputy city clerk, Sacramento Heritage and its nine-member board of directors were established by a City Council resolution in 1975. It was established as a 501(c)3 nonprofit to implement a yearly program that would provide for the preservation of architecturally and historically significant buildings in Sacramento.
Roberta Deering, senior planner with the Community Development Department, said Monday that, most notably, Sacramento Heritage established an official Historic Properties Plaque program and two new walking tours for the downtown area, “with more coming in other areas of the central city soon.”
The historic plaque program is designed to officially recognize designated historic homes and landmarks within the city of Sacramento.
Burg is replacing previous board member Marc De La Vergne, who maxed out his term and vacated the position in November 2010.
The Sacramento Heritage board meets monthly, and there is no compensation for any position on the board. Burg’s first meeting as a Sacramento Heritage director will be in November.
Melissa Corker is a Staff Reporter for The Sacramento Press. Follow her on Twitter @MeissaCorker.