Homes, commercial buildings, and even industrial remains can be among the few long-lived “residents” who can tell us, our children, and future generations the stories of our community. These stories might be about the place where the first city council meetings were held after Oswego incorporated in 1910 (long before a city hall was constructed) or the local mid-century hamburger drive-in.
They vary in architectural importance, but they may have equal significance to the individual memories on which the community’s collective past is built. The stories these buildings tell are critical in communicating our community’s history and values. They can be silently eloquent, and with our help and stewardship, can live long after we, as individuals, are gone.
Demolishing the past and building anew surrounds us with contemporary structures that rob us of our uniqueness and threaten to turn us into Any Town, USA. Diversity of ages, whether it’s people or buildings, makes for a stronger and more interesting community.
Richard Moe, former President of the National Trust for Historic Preservation observed, “There may have been a time when preservation was about saving an old building here and there, but those days are gone. Preservation is in the business of saving communities and the values they embody.”