Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Enough "Schock and awe" already

But you can't save everything, so the general rule should be that we should only preserve things that have a use...

To that end, it follows that it is a silly waste of public money to save largely useless items like the Lindbergh School on Shoe Factory Road and the Meadowdale Raceway tower at Raceway Woods in Carpentersville, among others....

You see, that's why we have museums. We put old things in there so we can go look at them and if they are too big to fit in the museum, we take pictures so we can see what it once looked like without wasting time, effort and money better spent on the here and now...

And worse, we use public funds to do that, thereby forcing every taxpayer to share in someone's private obsession. (source: Elgin Courier 4/23/06)
I don't know about the Lindbergh School or the Raceway Silo, the two structures with which Mike Bailey's editorial is primarily concerned. I don't think I've seen them and can't comment on them.

I do think he is mistaken in saying that historic preservation should be just a private obligation, and that only buildings "with uses" should be preserved.

The Parthenon became "useless" 2,000 years ago. Thank Zeus that Mike Bailey wasn't around then to salvage the marble for a more useful building! Not every city can have a Parthenon or a Hagia Sofia or a Chartres Cathedral, but every city must have some kind of monument, something it can call its own. Such landmarks are what give people a sense of place and pride of place. Mr. Bailey may think otherwise, but condos or shopping malls can never replace the churchs, the barns and old homes built by our fathers and hallowed by time.

One man may own the First Universalist Church building, for example--the bricks may belong to him, the title in his name. But its presence belongs to all of us. It is our history, Elgin's history. It's our heritage. And who would sell that away so cheaply?


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