Historic buildings should be preserved

Well, the Bethlehem Steel administration building is coming down. We were treated to successive photos of an excavator tearing an ornamental window from the Mansard roof with the glee of a child plucking a cherry off a sundae. Honestly. Sensible people criticize us preservationists for insisting that everything old or historic be saved. Our issue is, to quote an old cliche, “they don’t build ’em like that anymore.” When’s the last time we saw an edifice – corporate or public – being constructed in gorgeous French Renaissance style?

We wouldn’t have such a problem with an old building coming down if something of comparable merit were to take its place. And we’re particularly rankled if there’s no concrete plan for use of the site. Yes, the Bethlehem building was blighted. But then this whole area is blighted. We are in hard times. It’s too bad we can’t let our derelict landmarks sit until times improve and they might be useful again. How often have we heard that detestable phrase “shovel ready” when nobody’s got a shovel to start construction of anything?

Unfortunately, tax codes favor a landowner clearing a parcel of land and sitting on it rather than trying to maintain a historic structure.

Anthony Kunz