Letter to the Editor

Letter to the Editor: Preserving History

Friday, May 9, 2008

Maintaining American history

To the Editor,

Historic preservation is an issue that often gets overlooked until it is too late to do anything about it. As with natural preservation and conservation/environmental situations, once it is gone, it cannot be replaced.

All over America, in cities large and small, historic buildings are being torn down to make room for parking lots. Other historic structures are being razed to build condominiums and apartment houses.

If you look at downtown Kansas City, Missouri, for example, right now, you will see that many historic buildings have been leveled between 21st Streets and 39th Streets. These artifacts of history will be replaced by towering high rises and other office buildings.

While I am all for progress, I believe we should save as many historic landmarks as possible. The best way to do this, I feel, is to make them into tourist attractions. This will not only save the historic building, but, will bring tourist dollars into our towns and cities.

A good example of this is what was done to one of the old buildings on the campus of State Hospital No. 2 in St. Joseph, Mo. Instead of tearing down this historic piece of property, the building was turned into a psychiatric museum about five years ago. You may go there and see some of the most incredible displays on mental health in the entire USA. Who would have ever dreamed of a museum about mental health and psychiatry?

Fortunately, someone in St. Joseph did.

Not every building can be saved. Not every structure can be made into a tourist sight. However, to preserve our country's unique history and colorful heritage, we should at least try to save a few of these grand old pieces of architecture. Like endangered animal species, once they are gone, they are gone.

David Shipp,