Saving our local heritage

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 3, 2003

There is something to be said for the grandeur of a new building - we are certainly proud of Andalusia Elementary School and the new activity centers both in Andalusia and in Opp - but there's more that can be said about saving an old one. Both Opp and Andalusia city councils have made choices lately concerning the historical well-being of their communities. Both cities, instead of opting for glamorous - and expensive - new facilities; have chosen to rescue the past instead by taking old, classic buildings like the old Opp Post Office and East Three Notch School to renovate as their home base.

Cost is not always a factor in these matters - we sincerely doubt that Andalusia will escape with the relatively light cost of about $250,000 that Opp will pay for its new city hall - but to have built a similar structure on the same scale as the old school from the ground up would have cost even more.

It is more than using what you've got, although that is certainly an excellent quality to encourage, it is preserving what you have. Sometimes the cost of bringing an old building up to current codes costs more than building from scratch, but once a classic old structure is torn down, there is no bringing it back.

Opp and Andalusia are "bringing it back" in a different way, by restoring the buildings to former glory and, to paraphrase Frank Lloyd Wright, giving the form a function as well. Think of the buildings in both towns that could benefit from this approach. Even if they were to stand empty for a time, awaiting occupancy, wouldn't they still look better - and make our cities look better - if they were fixed up. We understand cost constraints, slow economies and the overwhelming nature of such a project, but we can dream of day when the buildings in this area have signs that read "For lease" instead of "Condemned."

Until then, the cities of Opp and Andalusia have made a good start by setting a good example.