Courtesy of the National Trust for Historic Preservation
The destruction of the Orth house was a sad moment for the Healy Project. It was designated as an historical resource by the City Council in 2013. We witnessed its demolition last week in a cloud of smoke and hundreds of tons of debris, the remains of the beautiful old house that T.P. Healy built in 1893. The Healy Project did everything possible to halt the destruction of the house, but other priorities and interests prevailed.
While its destruction is painful, it’s done. The Healy Project is still concerned about the corrupted and misleading testimony at trial and before the City Council, and is looking forward to working with the City Council to avoid these problems when discussing preservation and environmental issues in the future. We care very deeply about our local architectural heritage, and while we understand that preservation is merely one concern out of many that city planners must weigh, we believe that our city officials should strive to keep their personal feelings apart from a fair and transparent governing and judicial process.
It would be understandable to suggest that these concerns are sour grapes or retributive, but the house is gone and nothing will bring it back. When the Healy Project voices its concerns about misleading or corrupted testimony, a lack of transparency, and dangerous demolition practices, these concerns are about the public trust in its institutions. These concerns are about trusting that in the future the City Council doesn’t just give lip service to preservation, social, and environmental issues while bending under the weight of private developers and the desire for a larger, more affluent tax base.
Courtesy of The National Trust for Historic Preservation.
Personal grudges by city officials against their constituents in any forum, including social media, are unfortunate but understandable, especially when based on doctored images. Our city officials will certainly rise above it, and move forward toward not just preserving what makes this city great, but making it greater through an intelligent development and planning policy that includes preservation as a cornerstone. We welcome the opportunity to work with the City Council to ensure that future preservation efforts are not derailed by false or misleading testimony, and that when we as a city decide to destroy historical resources we are not basing those decisions on tainted information.
Our city has been cast in a bad light on the national stage recently because of these very issues, which nobody wants to see. We’d like to invite civility back to this conversation, starting with ignoring internet trolls whose only interest is stirring up trouble to get attention.
Preservation and restoration is always the greener option, and our historical treasures are a part of what makes our city exceptional. The Healy Project’s mission is to preserve the architectural legacy left to us by Master Builder T.P. Healy. While we will never lose our passion, we have set our personal feelings aside to further that mission. We hope everyone else, including our elected officials, will do the same.