-Isms: Views on Life in Rural America
February 25, 2021
This week, we’re going to play the close your eyes and imagine game.
Close your eyes. No peeking.
You need to tune in and think. Your future depends on it.
Think of a building in your community you consider prominent. What sets it apart from other structures in town?
Now, think about a building that may be a diamond in the rough. You know the type of place I’m talking about. Once upon a time, this building was the centerpiece of the community, a drawing card with a welcome sign, a structure that defines the town’s past, but in the present, well, in the present, the old girl (or boy, or whatever pronoun you choose to use to describe a piece of architecture) isn’t as spry as she used to be.
Cosmetically, she has blemishes, but when you gaze at her, you see her beauty still lingers. She’s a work of art, something to be proud of and show off. She has “P” - potential.
On the inside though, she’s been abused and abandoned, emotionally drained by the lack of care she has not received. She’s a crumbling hot mess everyone avoids.
My question to you: How will you save her? Make her whole again? Give her purpose?
This is a discussion I’ve had with multiple people, in Clearwater, about the little brick building at the south end of Main Street.
She deserves to be saved.
I hear what you’re thinking. “Why, on earth, LuAnn, should that building be saved?”
It’s simple. preservation of our community’s history.
You’re also thinking, “It needs to be torn down.”
We as a community need to find her purpose and let her share those lessons with others.
Richard Moe, former president of the National Trust for Historic preservation, wrote, “There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. preservation is the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”
For more than a year and one-half, Elizabeth and I have discussed the fate of the little brick building and have anxiously awaited the moment she would share a vision for the future.
More recently, others have talked about restoration and establishing it as a centerpiece to draw people here.
The little brick building is a piece of community history. Maybe her purpose is a visitor center or a historical museum that shares tidbits of our collective past while promoting the present and future. Maybe her future is a drive-through coffee shop or sandwich joint.
Once upon a time, it served as home for a family or two.
And, once upon a time, it housed a local business, offering a space for entrepreneurship and growth.
And now, it’s time to bring back her original shine.
Let’s start a community conversation about the future of the building.
Yes, it will take a fund drive of some sort. Perhaps grant funds can be secured, too. It will also require elbow grease by a group of volunteers. It will mean a commitment from all of us to play a part in her renaissance.
All of this is possible.
It’s time to think about the values that describe this community, an extraordinary community, in which we live.
Let’s make the extraordinary happen.