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Monday, November 05, 2007

How to stave off the wrecking ball

Springfield is in the middle of a heated controversy over an historic old house. The house which has connections to Abraham Lincoln, has come under the ownership of a nearby large medical corporation. The doctors want to demolish the house and put up something else. I don't know. Maybe a parking lot. Obviously, I'm not paying that much attention to this particular controversy. The preservationists are all all atwitter and vocal that the place should be preserved. This is a common story and not at all the first time something like this has happened around here.

So, here's a tip to the preservationist. Get the property before the commerce-type people get it. That way the preservation people will have control and these issues won't keep happening, thereby causing so many letters to the editor, anguish and such. Then, the historians can repurpose the property or let it continue to rot. Because once someone or some business owns it, they should be able to do with it what they want (within in the law). Just like you.

P.S. Sorry for no links as the whole affair is just too mundane to bother.

Posted by Marie at November 5, 2007 10:56 PM


Trouble is, a lot of preservationists are well-meaning but woefully cash-starved people. It would be great for such people to buy up all the historically significant properties before the greedy investors get their filthy mitts on them, but that's just not feasible.

I'm also wondering how many structures in Springfield can be said to have "connections to Lincoln." I'd guess every single building built prior to 1865, however many of those still exist.

Posted by: Pete at November 6, 2007 9:03 AM

Re: mundane... you're exactly right. I have a fatalistic sense of ennui about this: Don't want it to come down but I can't do anything about it, and it's going to come down anyway, so what's the point of worrying about it?

Even if someone did have the wherewithal to move it, where's it going to go? And what to do with it if does get moved? Can't just let it sit and rot, but restoring it will cost beaucoup $$$.

Might as well crack one open and pour a libation for the Maisenbacher House.

Posted by: Anonymous Communist at November 6, 2007 11:08 AM

Sometimes they do get saved. Two prominent examples are the Elijah Iles House and the Lincoln Colored Home. I think I sounded harsher than I really feel. I'm sorry. It was reactionary. I actually love these old homes and properties - even the rotting ones. And if I had the money, I'd probably buy one or two.

Ten or 15 (maybe 20) years ago a group of concerned historians walked around town and identified a list of historically significant properties. Having once worked in one such place, I had the list in my hands. I wish I'd kept a copy for myself.

Posted by: Marie at November 6, 2007 8:39 PM

I love these old buildings, too. Hell... I love looking at any kind of building. But obliterating its history is just what Springfield does.

With a few notable exceptions, of course.

Posted by: Anonymous Communist at November 7, 2007 1:18 AM

With just the smallest fraction of what the city's largest medical group is going to spend on its new "over the road" medical building, the clinic could make a substantial challenge gift. If the community responds, the building is saved. If we don't put our cash where our mouths are, then we know how Springfield opinions leaders feel about preserving the past. How about it, SC? This might be the first needle-free test you've give anyone in a long tiome.

Posted by: Gramps at November 12, 2007 3:21 PM