Vol. IV No. 1 1/1/2023
Editorial: Who We Are
At the Historic Preservation Committee meeting on December 12, Chair Carl Sprague reported that the garden structure on Prospect Hill Road designed by Daniel Chester French in 1915 was torn down.
Buildings are the repositories of our memories. Through them we tell our story. We point and say, "that is the house I grew up in" and so the tale of a life begins. Tearing down an historic building creates a rent in the fabric of one life or our lives. It makes it harder to explain who we are as a people, a town, a nation.
French, the sculptor of The Minute Man, Concord, 1874, Alma Mater, Columbia University, 1903, and Abraham Lincoln, Lincoln Memorial, 1920, left behind in our wee village his house and studio preserved by the National Trust, "The Spirit of Life", Saint Paul's Church, 1914, and a wealth of memories. He loved Stockbridge and called it heaven. The garden structure on Prospect Hill Road could have remained the starting point for the story of who he was and who we were. Now it is gone.
Some mourn. Some are shocked that anyone would do such a thing — they feel the loss. Some think this is nonsense. They say, who cares? Progress is what matters — tomorrow not yesterday. Recently someone wrote that our kids don't care about our local history — if true, it is very sad. Those untethered from their own past are adrift. Edmond Burke wrote, "those who don't know history are doomed to repeat it." Those who don't know history, evidently, are doomed to tear down a valuable piece of it.
Where do individual rights end and communal interests begin? What is the penalty for an assault on our history? What is the penalty for making a community sad?
Photo: Lionel Delevingne