Thursday, September 18, 2008

Opinion: The Importance of Preservation in New England

Article and photo by Eric H., at

A few years ago, a local politician suggested tearing down historic Blackburn Hall in Walpole, MA, as a means to create new development. It didn't go over well with local residents at all.

Whether the politician meant it --or was just informally suggesting ideas that he didn't truly believe himself -- the message resonated an all-too-familiar, Yankee response: please don't mess with our history. Fortunately, the Blackburn Hall issue hasn't been brought up much since then, and perhaps that's a good sign, as well as a blessing.

Blackburn Hall is a welcoming center, of sorts, with community social gatherings, childrens' theater productions,, recreational activities and more. Built in 1932, Blackburn Hall adds historical flavor to downtown Walpole with its neo-classical red brick facade with whitewashed pillars. With a tall historical building that houses the police station on one side (see photo above) and plenty of open land on the other (not in this photograph), you have a classic New England look, steeped in historical preservation that no modern building could ever approach in terms of charm and character.

Hopefully, Blackburn Hall will be in Walpole center, forever, and serve as a reminder to other New England communities on the need to preserve our precious, storied history. With commercial, industrial and residential development collectively off the scales -- even in a tough economy -- the challenge will be even greater to preserve the charm and character of our New England towns, cities and their amazing historical buildings.

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