Wednesday, October 16, 2013
TILTING AT WINDMILLS
SOMETIMES I WORRY ABOUT SUCCESS
IN A MEDIOCRE WORLD.
I sometimes feel like I am tilting at windmills in the fact that I am in love with history. I see the remnants of the worst mindset that ever occurred in this country everywhere. Urban Renewal, this attitude of throwing away that which is old and unique is the worst thing that has happened to our communities.
I see this manifest itself in large part by committees or elected boards who are charged with managing the areas that we live. Whether public or private there is a group that has something to do with what is done with most everything.
I have mixed emotions over the fact that they are going to save the water wheel at Rock Springs Ranch but I am unhappy about losing the old ranch house. It makes me very sad that at some point the upkeep of the house was stopped. Someone made that decision. The 4-H camp is one of the shining diamonds of our state and it has effected many lives over the years and will continue to do so. I am just sad that part of the reason it is called RANCH will be gone.
Every year when I return from Albuquerque, NM from the Western Music Association convention, showcase, and awards, I stop at the historic Brown Hotel in Springer, NM for breakfast. The hotel is a snapshot of history that you could still get a room or eat a home cooked meal. I would be in early enough that the local guys would be there drinking coffee and telling story's. Sad to say when my friend RW Hampton from Cimmaron, NM was here I was told the Brown shut down in September.
Through many reasons we lose historic buildings and businesses every year here in Kansas, but it is the same all over. In many cases it has been proven to be more cost effective to restore older buildings that to knock them down and put up architecturally bland buildings.
It is more of an eye sore to me to see a metal building put up in the middle of unique older buildings than having a vacant lot. One town just lost their old Opera house due to the fact that they have saved many buildings and could not raise anymore money for another project. Another town is having two buildings torn down because they were sold on the Internet and the new owner let them literally rot.
You can site instance after instance in your community where some thing unique has been lost. Will you be the one that laments the passing or happy to see the old junker gone?
One of the arguments that I get on saving old buildings is that "it is too expensive to bring them up to code". Any community that has the desire to work with old buildings need to adopt the codes for historic structures. They are out there. Also every code that is used has the statement in the first pages of the book that there is discretion for the inspector or entity to give variances for common sense and innovative solutions for the spirit of the code.
As a former inspector, who never had a complaint lodged against him, I am irritated with other inspectors who act like they are little Lord Fauntleroy's and never try to work out problems. The point of codes is safety and good practice, not the ego of those in charge. There is constant improvement of practices, techniques, and hardware. Any code cannot be final word on what is allowed.
The character of a community is reflected in what they save and value. The economic health of rural areas and cities sometimes is the uniqueness that they preserve.