Friday, August 28, 2009

Should We Save Historic Buildings?

In the little community where I live, we haven’t saved many of our old historic buildings. Some of that loss is due to turn-of-the-century fires that destroyed many of the structures in the old downtown.

Recently, we had a chance to rescue an important aged building that over the years has served a huge number of people in our little town.

But we didn’t.

Those involved said it would be far too expensive to renovate this big old brick building that in recent years has housed a medical center. They simply did not have the funds to fix it up.


This building once served as a community center for our town. Clubs met there. Dinners and luncheons were served. Children took dancing classes. Before the days of kindergarten in the public schools, a private kindergarten was taught there. Later, when there were public school kindergartens, the community center class became a nursery school. And there was a teen club with Friday evening dances. Perhaps most memorable of all, art classes were taught on the upper floor in a flood of light beneath the skylights.

The photograph shows the brick building to the right that now has been demolished.

Lots of memories for lots of people.

Bulldozing equipment has wiped those memories away. Memories have been leveled for a parking lot or flattened for some other purpose.

Ours in a truly historic town. Soon after the settling of the first permanent English colony at Jamestown, Captain John Smith explored our rivers—we sit on three—and our creeks--I live on one. The Indian tribes were here long before that and two reservations--the Mattaponi and the Pamunkey--remain nearby.

Still, we have not learned from history. Still we have not saved our historic buildings.

Should we?

Should we as writers do more?

Can we?

©2009 Mary Montague Sikes


F. M. Meredith, author said...

Good blog and my answer is yes, both as authors and people we should do what we can to save any historic buildings.

Our publisher, Bille, also lives in a town with many historic buildings.


Monti said...

Thanks for your comment, Marilyn. If we lived in a newer area of the country, without the potential for older buildings, I would understand this more. It's amazing to travel in Arizona, for example, and see buildings from the 1930s with historical markers. Some places out west were just beginning to get settled!


Sylvia Dickey Smith said...

I believe our past is valuable. They remind us of our lessons -- either learned or not. They connect us to each other. I think it is worth the expense. We spend money on so many unimportant things. History is story, and story binds us together.

Christina E. Rodriguez said...

It's sad that saving historic buildings is never easy. I live in a historic building, but if we had a fire or something, there is no way we could ever rebuild or reclaim what was lost. It would just be too expensive for any of us to handle, even if we all pooled our money, and even if the city pitied us and helped in some way.