Friday, February 15, 2013

Historic preservation is close to my heart; one of the few issues (besides fighting animal abuse) that I really care about. So when I read this appeal to publicize a sad recent event, how could I pass up the invitation?

I am reminded, or course, of the outrage I felt when every trace of the Defreest-Church house was erased from the planet to make way for yet another big box (in this case, some parking spaces for a Target store). Yes, Joni Mitchell was right!

I also remembered that a few years ago I read a story about a neighborhood of Lustron homes in Albany being placed on the National Register, so I did a little "hunting," and came across many pictures of the houses on Jermain Street at this post.

What is it with developers rushing to demolish before a site can be documented? Can it be interpreted as anything but a purposeful and hostile act? I still remember that the ancient trees surrounding the Defreest-Church house were destroyed in the early morning while researchers from Cornell were on their way to take samples -- they arrived just hours too late.

I take comfort when outrageous things like this happen by thinking of Penn Station's legacy. The demolition's impact is widely regarded as the most significant milestone in the preservation movement. People's attitudes changed afterwards. They knew, and still know, that it was a terrible mistake.

I thought of this recently when I was dwelling on this story. They now have 4,500 followers on facebook; folks from every state in the country and all over the world care. I believe the story of their abuse may wind up decreasing breed prejudice and help to pass this pending legislation.

Sometimes something good can come as a result of something bad, and if so, maybe the Lustron amalgam at 4111 Tonawanda Drive will not have died in vain. (Unfortunately, this has not been the case for the Defreest-Church house, as that ghastly bullseye reminds me every time I go by. But one can always hope.)

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