December 13th, 2018

More appreciation needed for city’s historical buildings

By Medicine Hat News Opinon on July 6, 2018.

Most of us appreciate traditional architecture, the elements of design and construction that you just don’t see anymore but that does not often translate into doing what we can to keep them.

Just for a moment, imagine Medicine Hat without the beautiful St. Patrick’s Church, or the other historical churches such as Saint Barnabas, St. Peter Lutheran, Fifth Avenue Memorial and so on. They command our attention, help us reflect on beauty, teach us a bit about history and so on.

There are also numerous schools and homes in town with historical and architectural significance that many of us comment on.

Sadly the maintenance costs alone of these old buildings are great, not to mention heating costs that can be prohibitive. These factors generally lead to the decision to simply scrap the building and start again.

It may make economic sense but as a community we lose a little of our cultural heritage in the process.

If you question the need to preserve these buildings it is worth considering the places you choose to travel to on vacation. Europe abounds in historical buildings that people will travel thousands of miles to take in. Even if you stay in Canada many of us are drawn to Montreal and Ottawa because of the historical architecture and sense of history.

Riverside School is to be demolished along with 101 years of history. Yes there are photographs of the building to tell a story but they are never quite the same as standing in the original building. Climbing the beautiful wooden stairs and touching the banisters that thousands of children did over decades can touch your heart in a special way.

Elizabeth School, although no longer a school, is being used as a community centre but will also face a large bill in future to keep it in good repair.

After Earl Kitchener School closed, and languished for some time, our community was ecstatic to have a buyer who did considerable renovations and turned it into an attractive family home. It is not easy to find a family willing to do that.

While historical buildings can be burdensome when it comes to upkeep costs, perhaps there would be a larger focus on making the effort, and perhaps even giving financial support for those making the effort, if we showed more appreciation for these magnificent buildings.

They after all a part of our history.

(Gillian Slade is a News reporter. To comment on this and other editorials, go to https://www.medicinehatnews.com/opinions, email her at gslade@medicinehatnews.com or call her at 403-528-8635.)

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