I came across a story that I think is a pretty good example of the battle preservationists fight on a daily basis across our country. It has all of the components that are usually involved; an old house, renovation costs, a government that doesn’t want to spend money on an old house, a group that considers the house worth saving, and a group that considers an old house and a historic old house to be two different animals. I wish I had found this article when I wrote “What Defines Historic?”
So, What Does Define Historic?
Glen Carbon is a village in Madison County, Illinois, with a population of about 10,000. The Harmon House dates to at least 1908 when it was owned by a local coal mining inspector. Coal mining is a large part of why Glen Carbon exists today. The old house was then owned from 1916-1954 by the grandparents of one of the attendees at the recent village meeting where a motion was passed to demolish the house. The village has owned the house since 2000 and in 2008
determined it would take about $100,000 to renovate the home. The village doesn’t want to spend the money and the plan now is to take demolition bids for the next 30 days, and if preservationists can’t raise $100,000, the old house comes down.
I found the comments after the article to be as interesting as the article itself as the opposing camps expressed their viewpoints and arguments, and it seemed like it all came down to what defines historic. If a village grows around the coal mines that support it and an old house once owned by a mining inspector dates to those days, is it historic to the area or just an old house? Who has to have owned an old house, or slept in it, or even visited it to make it a historic home? The town I live in was known as a railroad town many years ago and quite a few of the old homes owned by railroad workers and executives have been restored over the years, but I don’t think Casey Jones ever lived in any of them.
Cash for Caulkers Revived?
There are rumblings that the Home Star Energy Bill, or Cash for Caulkers as it has also been called, may rise from its dormant state in the Senate. It has been there since the House passed it and sent it over in May. The Fed Chief is calling for stimulus spending to continue to help prevent the fragile economy from faltering, so the Senate may take action on the Bill in the near future.