10 February 2014

Sometimes to save our history we have to move it!

Sometimes to preserve an important part of our history, we end up “moving” it someplace else!

I’m not talking London Bridge which moved from London to Lake Havasu City, Arizona, nor the Temple of Debod, moved from near Aswan Egypt to Madrid Spain, I am talking less flashy and more local efforts made to move buildings or structures in order to preserve our history while at the same time encouraging modern development.

This past week, another historic house (Crabtree Jones House, c. 1795) in Raleigh was moved to make way for an apartment complex and a few years ago a house was moved to make way for a large shopping center (Midway, for which a documentary film was produced by Godfrey Cheshire). These are not the first houses to be moved to make way for “progress” nor will they be the last and what’s key is that there was a dedication to preserve these houses versus just tearing them down.

Unfortunately, all too often we do hear about historic houses, buildings, or other structures which are so neglected that they fall apart before our eyes.  Or, we hear about situations where the financial resources are not forthcoming and a historic building is destroyed, not for lack of interest and for lack of money (e.g. Catalono House).

And, this is not new.  There are many buildings which had already disappeared from the landscape before I was born or soon after (e.g Meredith College building).

As with everything else, in some regards we would like to preserve it all!  Is that realistic? Probably not.  If not, how do we decide what to preserve assuming limited resources?  Are the oldest buildings a priority? Unique buildings?

I don’t have an answer to those questions.  I do know that I do appreciate any piece of history which is preserved.  Many would argue that we shouldn’t even “move” these historic buildings.  On the other hand, if the choice is to move or preserve, I think moving has value!

What are your thoughts?  Has your community preserved buildings by moving them?

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