Comment 102199

By lakeside (registered) | Posted June 09, 2014 at 01:59:00 in reply to Comment 102176

I often agree with Dan Jelly but not in this case. I understand his all or nothing stance on preservation, and the reluctance to offer demolishers even one more way for them to explain away their actions, because this was in the face of the impending loss of the Education Centre.

I think many of us would have practically chained ourselves to the doors if we thought that would prevent its demolition. But as we all know now the building was doomed, no matter what -- forces beyond reason were in play.

It was an architectural masterpiece and there were a dozen other places where the new Medical Centre could have been built, some as close as right next door if that precise location was somehow so essential. But it was coming down anyway and there was nothing anyone could do about it.

The Education Centre is a great example of just why we do need an Architectural Garden.

It's not to create some maudlin graveyard midway of our failed efforts to save historic buildings. Its to share our past with future people who, without some record, will never know those buildings beyond the semi-gloss pages of the next edition of Vanished Hamilton.

As Dan points out, the buildings are far more than the sum of their parts and those parts are infused with the life and times of those who have animated the building through the years. To touch and feel the old building is to be that much closer to it.

It's true that so many buildings are long gone and can't be inclded in an architectural garden implemented now, but what about the future?

As modernity leaps forward, won't the experience of seeing and touching these awesome works of stone help people to understand the value of historic buildings? This sometimes helps people to gain a greater appreciation of heritage going forward.

The garden need not feature exclusively the relics of our lost preservation battles today. There could be stone sculpture works mixed in with the architectural elements; a series of delightful surprises as you wind your way around the loop trail.

Somewhere there must be people who have some of those lost pieces, who would perhaps allow them to be displayed in a setting where more people can appreciate them. While the lost Cherokee marble cladding from City Hall wasn't it's centerpiece or anything, I think the location of some of it is known. Maybe some of that could be bought back or donated and then be used to line a path or somehow be otherwise incorporated into the site. There must have been people who retained samples of prominent buildings such as Old City hall when they came down. Where are these now?

There might be other pieces of history that can be re-found and incorporated. Not every piece has to even be local. Exceptional pieces from other fallen buildings could maybe be considered for inclusion. Elements of buildings in the areas surrounding Hamilton could be incorporated as their history is intertwined with Hamilton's own, since they developed together.

Perhaps new works of sculpture could be produced by local artists out of lesser architectural elements like the marble. Imagine some sort of sculpture composed of salvaged 'HAMILTON' brick, as could have been salvaged from the Lyric/Century theater when it came down a few years ago. For the longest time there were what must have been thousands of bricks right on the surface there and millions of these bricks are still around buried in back yards and holding up book shelves.

Adaptive reuse in the original place would be the highest and best use for our old buildings. But when that fails, why not celebrate their lives in a gorgeous setting while making a powerful impression upon the next generation of potential architectural preservationists?

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