Monday, September 28, 2009

Destruction, Why?

Every house has a history. Some seem to be more important than others, but each one holds it's own stories of the era and type of construction that it is, as well as tales of what went on within the walls.

It pains me when I read of homes being demolished for newer, more up-to-date residences or business buildings. I'd so much rather see these places transported to another location, than to see them fall prey to bull dozers and other machines of mass destruction. When there is a particularly old building, whether currently liveable or not, it tears my heart out. Do not those in authority recognize that these buildings have stories to tell? Do the providers of destruction permits care at all that these histories will be gone if they allow demolition?

The home that my parents built in the 1950's was one of those whose walls came tumbling down after my Mother sold it. It was hard enough to know that the home would pass to hands outside of our family, but I told myself it was ok because another family would live their lives there, make memories there , add to the history of the place. But not long after the deed was passed, the vacant residence was sold again, and thus began the horrifying tear-down. After it was transformed into a larger, more elaborate house, with a pool in the rear yard, it was sold once more, and again, added on to. Now there is a garage in front of what used to be a master bedroom, and a step-up garden of boxwoods and other plants stands in front of the area where my Grandfather's room once was. The interior is open so you can see from front to back of the house. The vinyl pool, which had had no swimmers, as the house had had no residents since Mom sold it, was torn out and replaced with a gunite one. Gone are the willow tree which stood near the driveway. Gone is the huge Crabapple tree in the front yard and the 50 year old Azaleas and old blue Hydrangeas that stood near all the windows of the house. Gone.

They can take away all of my childhood home, but they cannot take the memories that were made in the house I lived in then. The house held our history.. holidays that were spent with our family around the table together, the cook outs where the pool is located now, the summer vegetable garden that Dad tended, the clothesline where I put up and took down many icy articles of clothing in winter, the first house that three of my babies came home to from the hospital. It was the place my parents worked for and the place where my father spent his last days while he battled cancer. It is where my Mother cared for her family. And, sadly, it is gone.

My mid-century home has been eradicated, along with many others. I'm sure that our house meant nothing to anyone, except our family, but what about the various others which went back to other eras? Even if it was just the construction that revealed it's age and technique of building at the time, was that not important enough for it to preserved ?

I applaud East Hampton Town for the keeping of so many old places. But, I'm heartbroken whenever I read of another house 'biting the dust' or being handed over to the fire department for burning. Once these places are gone, they are gone.
Photographs are all that is left for the future generations. Unless there was some magnificent bit of importance performed within the walls, no one will even remember it after the walls have been forcibly crumbled.

Beside the fact that the homes are being destroyed, is there not an element of wastefulness to the destruction, rather than the moving of liveable buildings? With the moving of a house, and some up-dating or reconstruction, these places might make affordable homes for some who might otherwise need to rent houses.
Is it not wiser to donate such places to Habitat for Humanity, that wonderful organization that works to help under-priviledged families own homes?

I try to comfort myself when I read of another house going down, but I find no words with which to heal my hurting. I just shake my head instead.