Saturday, April 16, 2011

Imagining History

I guess as a child or teenager even, or college student or even a young adult, we look up to higher society and government and can be naive and think that the people on top and in power are the most just and honest of all, with no incentives. How foolish of me to think this way.

When we are young though things can seem dramatic and inspiring and peak an imagination that's hard to contain. Disney World for example possesses a euphoric buzz that only children of a certain age can understand. While other places or foods or things in a more daily proximity can achieve the same; like playing man hunt in the neighborhood. The rest of us just don't get it. And depending on age we might dismiss these imaginations as silly or uncool.
But if and how our initial fascinations shape our future is an interesting question.

When I look back there has always been a level of physicality to my nostalgia and imagination. I remember order, decoration, structure, horizon, texture. A specific space or place was always what intrigued me. Perhaps this is why i wanted to become an architect.

So why do i bring up these things?

The Board of trustees and Mayor of Garden City NY (a very affluent town) ...and by very I mean some people blow dollars out of their noses instead of boogers... anyways, the board voted last month to demolish St. Pauls School. To me this is like if the governor of Florida decided to shut down Disney World. Built in 1879, St Paul's is a beautiful High Victorian Gothic school that was used for over a century. It hasn't been in use since 1991.
As a young kid it scared the hell out of me and brought to mind haunted ghosts, whereas when i grew older it carried more of a fantasy vibe with trying to imagine what its like in the past. And even today it evokes this feeling of Academic discipline, enforcing and motivating students to study hard.

It really boggles my mind that these people can't see things the right way. Or perhaps I am wrong and also so stubborn that it's impossible for me to see otherwise... but I think most would agree with me.
The board thinks that as residents and people in power they can make a decision for the towns population, while also disregarding the 140 years history of the building and it's people who have enjoyed it. St Paul's was built in honor of Alex Turney Stewart who founded Garden City.

Wikipedia says it costs 100,000$ to maintain St Paul's each year. For Garden City that's the dust on a penny, when you consider the average household income is 104,000$ and median home price is 460,00$.
Why would you want to tear down the most beautiful piece of architecture in your town? You want to wreck the building which was constructed in honor of your towns founder? Is it Greed? Well I am sure an amazing historical gem of architecture has some market profitability to it. Have we no respect for history? Is the only way to preserve it is through words or images?

There is a referendum vote on April 27th for the village to float a bond for 3.75 $ million dollars in taxpayer money to fund the demolition. If anybody knows anyone in Garden City, please tell them to go and Vote No. We can't keep destroying our history in America.

You can also help out by visiting Or their facebook group.

Here is more photo's and a neutral look at the situation and Garden City.


Buck said...

such a disgrace. there is probably a square mile of space surrounding the school that could be developed without touching the building.

maybe we should write some LI members of congress to try to get some earmarks and shit to save it...

Kate said...

It could be compared to when the Budhas were destroyed in Afganistan. Everyone thought that was a disgrace and a crime. Our history isn't that long but the issue remains the same. But because they are doing it democratically there is an ugly aura of approval in destroying art I think it's sad and it all revolves around the co$t of maintaining it and where they have to spend their tax dollars now instead. $3.7 to tear down is ridiculous though - they could maintain the school for 300 years for that amount of money. Someone should be able to think of something constructive/inventive to do with the structure in that time

Buck said...

Here is more history being torn down...