In the area where I grew up, there were two old buildings that always fascinated me.
One of them is not quite so old because I happen to personally remember it being built. A friend in my neighborhood, who also happened to sit next to me in our class of elementary told me of his parent’s plan one day in class. They were going to live their dream, a business idea they had of opening their own restaurant.
They were serious too. They had flown to England to spend nearly a month there. (Don’t worry, my friend’s aunt and her husband cared for him and his younger siblings while they were gone). They had all sorts of old authentic furniture, rugs, tapestries and decor delivered to the area from the U.K. Sure enough, in a short time there was a mini castle in the area! They had built a castle, (not small either) and opened their authentic restaurant. It was beautiful, magnificent, and it was unlike anything people had seen. This was in the 1980’s.
I was very young, and couldn’t go there to eat dinner myself. By the time I was a teenager who could drive there to eat, I was a fool and didn’t; so it was a treat anytime my family took me there to eat. One walked in through a castle door with knights on each side with 15th century plate armor. The knee-high lion statues were impressive too. The building was spectacular, but still blended nicely to the surrounding area. It improved the quality, value and feel for miles around. Just being on its grounds caused people to slow down, reflect on simpler times gone by, and to reminisce at the past and previous eras.
One could request a private dinner for two in the “tower room.” It was a huge restaurant, which served hundreds of guests. It was a restaurant for several years, but after the owners, (my friend’s parents) sold it, it eventually became too expensive to operate a restaurant. Its next identity was a reception center. In these days it was called Castlebrook. It did indeed make impressive weddings and receptions. I personally wanted to hold my wedding reception there at one time. But it was outside of many budgets. A reception there demanded a hefty penny. The building was indeed beautiful, very impressive without a doubt.
It became a landmark for the entire area. Then, only about two years ago, one day I was driving and it was gone… I am so not kidding. The castle may as well have been vaporized into outer space. The trees, grass and beautiful landscape surrounding it were also torn up. It was so sad to see. It had served as a beautiful eye piece and landmark for hundreds of people in the area. Everyone knew what and where it was.
I wondered just what in the world was important enough to take the place of that castle! Even as an adult, my thinking was that it must be something very important.
It was a strip mall. A Verizon wireless building was one of the stores that still stands today (at least for now) in the place of my friend’s parent’s castle.
The next building in the same town as the castle was an old Catholic church, which had been turned into a restaurant. I’m no architect, but for a young country such as America, that was an old building with some years behind it! Built in probably the 1940’s or 50’s out of stone, it had impressive architecture and beautiful landscape. Every time I passed by it, I liked to just admire it. Like the castle, I had spent time in it, even remembering a prom dinner there. It was the same story; it was big to operate as a restaurant, so it became a reception center. Then one day it was gone. Condominiums took its place.
Now I’m all about looking on the bright side as much as one possibly can, but in many ways enough is enough. See, this is one of the problems in America today. Actions speak louder than words. When it comes down to it, our actions say that we value instant results over any of what has gone before, any remnants of former lessons. The wave is ridden and the fleeting things have the priority in the name of progress for the sake of progress. Then we wonder why we can’t pull the young people off Pokemon, and yet they are encouraged to ponder and consider carefully, especially when it comes to spiritual matters. They are even warned of the dangers of shallowness; yet, what reminders do they have for anything contrary? For them, what serves as examples, reminders, pillars of special things, places, people and times gone by? Without searching on the world wide web, what immediate examples do they have of one who respects and honors the earth, creation?
These two buildings were impressive. They had a presence. They had some decent years behind them, and just the appearance and majesty of them caused anyone to slow down and show some respect. Older buildings and remaining natural places should be left alone. They help people to ground and center. They help them to develop roots and memories in a very special way of a place. America desperately needs roots; but every time we start to develop some, we uproot and sever them, virtually trading in what is wanted in the long run for what is wanted that very instant. Becoming virtually owned by gigantic corporations is one of the major causes of this. It is a big mistake. Each little mistake adds up to bigger ones, and unless we change our habits, views, ways and thinking, it is us, this great nation that will crumble beyond repair and collapse to the ground.
It is flawed thinking to decide to bulldoze an old building because it’s not “doing anything.” It is collecting and affirming depth every year that it stands; even if it stands empty for decades. If English Ivy (Hedera helix) is growing up the side, it is doing something. It is never too late to revive a building and again turn it into something beautiful and magnificent; but to just bulldoze one in the name of progress for the sake of progress is extreme folly.
No matter what the naysayers, fear- based thinkers and pessimists say, it is not too late.
We can develop roots and repair the damage done. Collectively begins individually. It is my hope, my prayer and my plea that we all join hands.
Below are some links in helping to preserve remaining natural places, and to help heal communities, the earth and alleviate poverty and homelessness.
Thank you for reading,