Not all old buildings worthy of preservation

Thursday, June 10, 2010

McCook as a community, is of a mixed mind when it comes to historic preservation.

We're proud of our heritage -- hence the Hills, Senior Center and Square -- but we also want to be progressive and forward looking.

A prime example is the former home of Gov. Ralph Brooks, a former high school superintendent who died in office, and who is honored by the name of one of the McCook Community College dorms.

Envisioned as part of the Heritage Square surrounding Norris Park, the old Brooks house has been purchased by Red Willow County, which has yet been unsuccessful in finding someone to move it off the lot or demolish it, leaving room for a possible jail or other county uses.

Sen. Ben Nelson's boyhood home has been moved from B Street to Norris Avenue, and features a new bronze of the senator and his parents, to be dedicated July 3.

Sen. George Norris' home across from Norris Park started the whole project, operated as a state historical site and featuring a bronze of the senator reading newspapers.

Gov. Frank Morrison's home for the past few months of his life, north of Norris Park, is in private hands and a sign describing it as such is nowhere in sight.

Other attempts at preservation have been equally mixed. West Ward carries a lot of memories for those who attended school there, but the city has judged remodeling it impractical, and it is set for demolition to make way for possible city public safety and administration buildings.

A barracks, bombsight vault and memorial garden are a focal point at the old McCook Army Air Base, and the Depression-era pool house at the McCook municipal pool has been remodeled into modern usefulness without loss of its original art-deco design.

Tearing down useful, historical structures is a mistake, but so is a half-hearted attempt at preserving them without a clear practical, financial plan for maintaining them and putting them to the best use.

We can't afford to preserve all old buildings, nor should we allow them to fall into disrepair.

It falls to community leadership to decide which ones are worth the cost and effort, and which ones should be allowed to fade into fond memories.

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  • Agreed. But the Brooks home is one of a kind in that it was the home of a former Governor and is in usuable condition now. A drive around the area would find several school buildings older than West Ward that the people that attended them would have fond memories. Think of Cedar Bluffs, Marion, Lebanon,Wilsonville, Edison, Max Parks,Hagler, Hamlet, Palisade....old schools of which most are empty and decaying. East Ward is the same vintage as West and it has been renovated--yet empty and has proven to not cash flow. As one voice in the wilderness, it would be a mistake for the Brooks home to be torn down.

    -- Posted by dennis on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 3:06 PM
  • At least this one can be torn down at a reasonable cost. If nobody wants to move it then there's no sense to spend more money on it. Even if he did serve 8 months as a governor.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 3:33 PM
  • typo - 18 months.

    -- Posted by McCook1 on Thu, Jun 10, 2010, at 3:34 PM
  • Let's get the show on the road. Get the place removed and go on with business. McCook and the county are doing good with removing old and run down buildings/houses. On the other hand, what about the building on the corner of South Street and Hwy 83?? It has been there long enough. Even though the owner has been working with the city on the removal of it. All the other buildings/houses have been torn down, now let's get this one gone. Or is the city playing favorites with the owner?? This place is a real eye sore. It sure has been left standing longer than the others.

    -- Posted by edbru on Mon, Jun 14, 2010, at 10:59 PM
  • I understand it is on the list and will be down soon (hopefully)

    -- Posted by dennis on Tue, Jun 15, 2010, at 1:41 PM
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