When the College of Design, Construction and Planning created a historic preservation program in the late 1950s, it became one of the first of its kind. Guided by the leadership of dedicated faculty, the program grew to become one of the most well-respected academic programs in the country.
By 1972, the program produced Preservation Institute Nantucket, a unique educational experience that offers knowledge in a broad range of historic preservation issues, while helping to research, document and conserve the historic resources on the island.
Walter Beinecke and Blair Reeves were two influential figures that started PIN in the early 1970s. Although both have passed away, they managed to leave a stamp on the college’s legacy that will never be forgotten.
DCP had the opportunity to interview Reeves before he passed away in 2012. Below is an excerpt from the article “Walter Beinecke’s Legacy,” which ran in the 2004-05 issue of the college’s alumni magazine, Perspective:
Walter Beinecke co-founded PIN with UF professor emeritus Blair Reeves in 1972. Their friendship began three years earlier when Beinecke, through the Nantucket Historical Trust, sponsored summer projects of the Historic American Buildings Survey, or HABS.
At the end of Reeve’s second summer in Nantucket, Beinecke came by the HABS office asking Reeves what they should do next.
“I asked him if he wanted me to think big or think small, and Walter told me to think big,” Reeves said.
One of the concepts Reeves proposed was a symposium for faculty and students on Nantucket. When asked by Beinecke if it should be a one-time event or ongoing, Reeves answered one-time event.
“Walter told me, ‘You’re not thinking big enough,’” Reeves said.
According to Reeves, Beinecke was very supportive of PIN and that support meant everything to the program. Beinecke was involved in all aspects.
“Walter loved Nantucket. That was his guiding light,” Reeves said. “Everything he thought about, did or worked on related to Nantucket.”
After Reeves and Beinecke’s retirements, they had many opportunities to travel together and continue their friendship of more than 30 years.
“Sometimes you meet people in your life that mean a great deal,” Reeves said. “Walter was one of those people.”