How to Preserve Historical Sites and Buildings in Israel

Historical Building Facade
The Preserved Facade of an Historical Building in Jerusalem

There are several ways to preserve historical sites and buildings, depending on the type of site or building, the historical significance and the physical condition of the site.

  • The preservation of a single building.  This form of preservation preserves the outer façade and inner structure of a building in its original state.  An example of this is the synagogue of the Agricultural School “Mikve Yisrael” in Holon which was built in 1895 and preserved in 1970.
  • The preservation of an historical site.  An historical site is a group of buildings with a common architecture, history or common social or cultural heritage, for example, Jerusalem’s Nachalat Shiv’a neighborhood.  Established in 1869, Nachalat Shiv’a was the third neighborhood to be built outside the walls of the Old City, and represented the customary building style of that period.  In the 1960’s the neighborhood was slated for demolition but that decision was reversed in 1986, and the plan was developed to preserve the buildings’ architectural elements as well as the character of the neighborhood.
  • Recreation of an historical site.  This is where the buildings of a site no longer exist and the site is rebuilt or “recreated” in its original form.  An example of this is the “Atlit” camp that was used by the British during the British Mandate to detain illegal immigrants.    In 1985 the camp was rebuilt and today is a museum to the historical events of the site.
  • The preservation of an historical building while adding an addition to the building.  Many times it is necessary to build an addition to an historical building in order to modernize it or to make the project economically viable.   This can be done by building the addition in such a way that it is hard to distinguish between the original and the new parts of the building.  Another way is to make the new addition so modern that it sets off the old line of the building, as is the case with the house built for Menachem Ushishkin in Tel Aviv.
  • The preservation of the façade of the building.  This preserves the outer façade of a building while renovating the internal structure.  An example of this is the former Alliance school in Neve Tzedek, the first neighborhood in Tel Aviv. Today the building is the Suzanne Dellal Centre for Dance and Theatre.
  • The preservation of elements of an historical building.  An example of this is Jerusalem’s beautiful “Talita Kumi” building, built in 1868.  It was demolished in 1980 but elements of the façade were preserved and erected on the sidewalk outside the Mashbir department store building on King George Street in Jerusalem.
  • The preservation of a building where the use of the building was changed.  An example is the Har Zion Hotel on Derech Beit Lechem in Jerusalem which was built in 1882 as an eye hospital.