Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Historical Absurdity...

The oldest building in Macedonia may soon be nothing but a pile of rubble.

Longwood Manor, the 84-year-old former home of Colonel William F. Long, could face the wrecking ball any time now. Long was the first mayor of Macedonia. City officials have produced an estimate for repairs on the "structurally unsound" house: $500,000. The house was deemed unsuitable for living "several years ago".

"We would like to have a historical marker like this. How do you do that when you are $227,000 in debt?" asked Mayor Don Kuchta. Demolition costs would roughly amount to $34,000, not including asbestos removal.

The house is located on 292 acres, known as Longwood Park, donated to the city through Long's will. According to the city, the will only states that the land be used for public purposes... it mentions nothing about the house.

On March 12th, the house was quietly condemned. Longwood Manor Historical Society wasn't told they only had 10 days to appeal the declaration. If a half-million dollars isn't put into escrow by September 12th, Longwood Manor will be leveled.

I have been inside this house within the last few years for an overnight ghost hunt. The preservation society has done wonders rehabilitating the home and giving it a facelift. Restoration efforts have been slow, but what little funding they have received has gone immediately into supplies for repairs. All labor has been on a volunteer basis. If this property is "condemned", I would hate to see how many other structures in the city would also qualify. They're not important enough to touch, apparently.

I can't help but wonder about the ulterior motives. Construction companies have a close-knit relationship with the city and have a habit of ending up on the payroll. Macedonia already bulldozed the old high school to the ground. The century-old railroad bridge is in the process of being eliminated. History is quickly becoming a thing of the past in the city.

But would you honestly expect a town to care when their oldest building was only built in 1924?


Liam said...

That is so sad to hear they are tearing down that great old house.

I really enjoyed my first "ghost hunt" there with you a few years ago.

At least I'll have the memories and the pictures.

Buck said...

Unfortunately, it's nothing new. Small towns are even worse at times about preserving their heritage than large cities. In my small hometown in South Carolina there was a magnificent old home. It was the only truly significant piece of Queen Anne style architecture in the town. They were offered the property as a donation and claimed "debts" and "liability" and so the property passed to a slash and burn developer who tore down this gorgeous piece of history and put up an Eckerd's drugstore and enlarged the parking lot for a McDonald's. The city of Newberry didn't even bat an eye while at the same time declaring themselves on signs all around the area "Historic Downtown Newberry" - historic my left butt cheek.

Jeanne said...

Know what you mean.
Living in the heart so to speak of the Gettysburg Campaign area, I continually stumble upon "new" historic sites. Some have been demolished and only exist in footnotes on the Internet, but other buildings/areas still cling to life.
When we first moved to the tri-state area (PA/VA/MD), the one thing that made the move bearable were the remnants of our nation's history.

Chris said...

That Sucks and such a wonderful old house. I could not believe it when I read the story in the Akron Beacon Journal. Its just crazy to have these historical homes knocked to the ground! Something needs to stop!

Anonymous said...

That is trully sad. I hate when they tear down historically old for new. They say it would cost to much to fix it up but if they just do what needs to be done for safety, i am sure it can be done. Sounds like they are just using a cop out to get something else in there to put more money in their pockets.

Cullan Hudson said...

A sad prospect faces us one day when our oldest structures are the most soulless of mid-century modern monstrosities. While I can appreciate the style in some respects, it always feels cold. In Oklahoma City, beautiful towering hotels once graced the skyline but fell, one by one, to the wrecking ball in the name of "urban renewal" in the 1960's. Few were spared, and of those, really only the Skirvin has come to life once more. So, too, were a series of historically significant "Chinese tunnels" used for opium dens, gambling, and the like by Chinese rail workers seeking the smallest piece of the familiar.

Jeanne said...

Wow! Now that really is a shame!
Just like the excuse for music you hear nowadays. Lord, to think that some of that Rap Crap will be around in fifty years. Of course, most of the folks listening to it today will be deaf by then!