History of Preservation Alumni

Though active since 1977, Preservation Alumni Columbia University (PACU) was formally organized in January of 1982 as Preservation Alumni, Inc., an independent, non-profit corporation founded to support and enrich Columbia University’s “Division” of Historic Preservation, the first graduate historic preservation program in the United States, and to advance preservation as a field of public and professional endeavor.

Early PA activities included:
  • A two-day convocation focused on current historic preservation activities, held at Columbia University in April 1983. Convocations were typically held at least every other year. In connection with the convocation, PA organized an exhibition of projects by students enrolled in the Division;
  • An annual career night presentation for the Division’s students, PA members and general public;
  • Architectural field trips for members and students. The 1982 trip, co-sponsored by the New Jersey Chapter of the Society of Architectural Historians, consisted of a tour of several historic planned communities in New Jersey;
  • Orientation meetings for incoming students of the Division;
  • Publication of a quarterly newsletter called Memo; and
  • Formation of the Avery Library committee, organized to advise upon the selection and purchase of historic preservation related publications.
Fun facts:
  • In 1982, membership fees were $15/year; PA had 172 members
  • Solicitation for dues was made by mail and telephone
  • The first party was held in the fall of 1982 as a joint venture between PA and the HP Program
  • The bylaws of PA establish that this organization can purchase historic properties
PA is interested in documenting more of the Board’s history. If you have information, programs, writings, or photos to share, please email us at info@preservationalumni.org with "history" in the subject line.
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