The DDN has done a great community service with a massive editorial (taking up nearly the entire op-ed page of the Sunday paper) on historic preservation.
Ostensibly about Building 26, the old NCR codebreakers building, the editorial goes well beyond that, addressing the questions of deciding what properties to save, perhaps via a process for a sort of historic preservation triage.
The editorial includes an excellent critique of Dayton History:
Meanwhile, Dayton History, the region's premier organization dedicated to telling Dayton's history, has been totally cowed. No resolutions, no nothing from it about the need to bend over backward to save Building 26. Dayton History can't be fanatical, but it does have to show passion for Dayton's treasures.I would go much further. Dayton History has abicated activity in local history beyond Carillon Park and NCR archival work. The kind of urban and community history done by the old Montgomery County Historical Society has been abandoned. Dayton History can't even be bothered to put up historic markers.
Case in point are the "Gem City Circle Tours" historic walking tours of downtown. Logically one would expect either preservationists or historic society volunteers to lead these. Instead the tours are being organized independently, by individual unaffiliated with Dayton History. The movement to save the Arcade also started outside of Dayton History and Preservation Dayton.
The City of Dayton comes in for critique:
The City of Dayton is so hungry for any economic development that it hasn't dared to challenge UD's decision.
Another example of this is the city not willing to impose solid urban design guidlines on new construction, like the new drugstores on Wayne and on Salem, resulting in suburban style site planning that destroys the urban character of streets and intersections. The city wants the development so bad they will compromise on good urban design.
The editorial continues with this statement near the end, key point in boldface.
Dayton is lucky to have so much history that's worthy of protection. From the Wright brothers' shop to Paul Laurence Dunbar's home to Sunwatch Indian Village, there is magnificent history here that's worthy of sharing with future generations. And communities across the country are using history of far less consequence to drive economic development.
To be rich in something and not know or appreciate it is a tragedy.Yes exactley. Good examples are St Louis, Cincinnati, and, for industrial history , overseas, the Ruhr region in Germany.
The DDN op-ed blogger Eddie Roth continued the discussion at his blog
Building 26 is not the only endangered historic site in the Dayton region, and there are not enough resources to save everything worth saving.
With that in mind, what other properties should make the “A List” for preservation or reuse?
By what process and criteria should this community select the vital few?
How might they be preserved or adapted?
But if you surf in to that link, you'll note the dim bulb respondents just want to talk about Building 26, not the bigger issues highlighted by Roth and discussed by the editorial.
The reason Dayton is weak in historic preservation is that the people who live in the Dayton metropolitan area are are not interested in it and don't get it. That they have rejected the living history of the city, prefering a brand called "history" sold at certain locations and venues.
History is a canal boat ride in Piqua or watching Blue Jacket or visitng Carillon Park, or antiquing in Lebanon and Waynesville, not the old buildings, factories, churhces and neighborhoods of the city of Dayton, nor the history of the common people who lived and worked in these places.