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.
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. 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.
©2009 Mary Montague Sikes