We are accountable for the future generations. It is our responsibility to show and tell them stories of the past. One best way to appreciate history is seeing what our ancestors’ hands had built. Like how we are enjoying history now. But what are we going to offer them if we are starting to ruin physical pieces of evidence of the past?
Demolition could be the easiest way to make use of lands occupied by old structures, which some consider as worthless and just hazards to the neighborhood. However, the easiest and most practical way often is not the ideal and best way to solve these issues. There have been debates and legal proceedings between city governments, locals, heirs, and even land developers. They argue as to whether or not to demolish a particular piece of property or to just let it remain to stand, especially when the property has its share in the history.
Prestigious Historical Homes Saved From Demolition By Historical Preservationist
There are historical buildings contracted for demolitions saved by historical preservationists. They are a group of people who work hand in hand to rescue historical buildings and landmarks from getting ruined. They believe that it is not right for these properties to be demolished whether they are abandoned for many years or on the verge of collapsing. For them, it is just proper to preserve these prestigious historic homes as they are part of our community’s history.
Frank Lloyd Wright is a celebrated American architect and writer. He designed hundreds of buildings and six of his houses. He built one for his son, which is the David and Gladys Wright home (Bostrom, n.d.) in Phoenix, Arizona. A developer bought the property with the intention to demolish it. Good thing, this was stopped by the city government. And was put again on sale to an owner who would agree to preserve the historic home.
Another estate saved from demolition in 2013 is a part of Brisbane’s heritage. It put an end to the three-year-old legal battle between the Brisbane City Council and the Greek Community Church (who proposed the demolition). The 125-year-old Belvedere building was decided to undergo restoration instead of knocking it down. This property has become one of Brisbane’s most distinguished homes.
Demolition Approved In Rare Cases, Tough And Tiresome Battle
Arguments presented by current owners and hard to stop demolitions led to the drafting of historic preservation ordinances by different city governments. It is quite a tough call that they laid out rules, such as if the property is a threat to the community, it is already a fire hazard, contains asbestos and lead materials, inviting pests, et cetera. They agree that pulling down of the dangerous property could add value to the neighborhood’s land value. Moreover, no one wants to live near a home that is dangerous and sore to the eyes. But of course, authorities have to consider first different measures to salvage the property before the request for demolition is approved.
However, despite the passing of laws, there are still some people who tend to disregard them. They think the choice is theirs to make and that is what’s right. That is why they end up facing trials and paying up penalties.
The Hobart City Council fined a resident of Hobart, Tasmania. The penalty was not only for intentionally demolishing their Mount Stuart home that has been listed as heritage house but for removing heritage-listed trees around the property as well. He also was required to cooperate with the city’s planning authority to work on the restoration of its almost original structure.
Killing Of History
Some heirs to these properties think that it is their right to decide on what is proper for this gem passed on to them. They never think about its significance as the tangible memory of the past. They often consider the most comfortable option to avoid the cost associated with the upkeep of these old historic houses and to make money by selling them to developers whose intention is to demolish them for their gains. Very seldom do they consider the historical value these old structures hold.
Determination Can Keep History Alive
The first historic preservation organization is The Mount Vernon Ladies’ Association. Ann Pamela Cunningham founded it. She strongly believed that if the women of America will bond together, they can save America’s most respected hero’s home from going to destruction. Many mocked her idea of raising $200,000 to purchase the property owned by George Washington. But with her perseverance, integrity, kindness, and bravery, they were able to save George Washington’s Mount Vernon Estate. They continually serve as a model for many.
The architectural and preservationist community hold on to their conviction that allowing the demolition of these structures is like letting the business sector and a few people erase a fragment of history. If we are always to consider demolition, what tangible part of history are we going to show the future generation?
Bostrom, D. (n.d.) The David & Gladys Wright house. Retrieved from https://www.flickr.com/photos/bostworld/8065029951/in/photostream/
Moore, T. (2013, May 9). ‘Belvedere’ building saved from demolition. Retrieved from: https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/belvedere-building-saved-from-demolition-20130508-2j7tq.html
The kindness of strangers. Retrieved from: https://www.mountvernon.org/preservation/mount-vernon-ladies-association/the-kindness-of-strangers/
Street, E. (2017, December 5). Mount Stuart house owner fined $225k for demolishing heritage home, creating ‘clouds of asbestos’. Retrieved from: http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-05/court-fines-man-who-demolished-heritage-house-in-hobart/9226700