Whose history is significant enough to be worth preserving in physical form? Who gets to decide, and how? Does the choice to preserve buildings, landscapes and places belong to government, experts or ordinary people? How does the condition of the built environment impact community identity, structure and success? This place-based course in historic preservation pursues these questions in St. Louis’ historically Black neighborhood The Ville, where deep historic significance meets a built environment conditioned by population loss, disinvestment and demolition. The course explores the practice of historic preservation as something far from neutral, but a creative, productive endeavor that mediates between community values, official policies and expert assertion. Critical readings in preservation and public history will accompany case studies, community engagement and practical understanding.