Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The Clock is Ticking and our Heritage is Slipping Away

Is this worth saving?

The Central Block - centerpiece of the south end of downtown Sutton dated 1887 is 128 years old as we move into 2015.

Sutton residents are fortunate to have some of the finest historic buildings in the area which depict the once-common architecture of plains frontier towns. And many of us are proud of our downtown.

But age is creeping through the foundations, the frame and the facades of each building. Left alone each and every one of these buildings will gradually, maybe faster than that, deteriorate past the point where no amount of effort and expense will save them. Drive to Clay Center, Harvard and other surrounding towns to see our future, unless...........

Arresting the deterioration of old buildings is a formidable prospect, and expensive. The beauty and historic significance of downtown Sutton is a community asset. We cannot expect the individual owners of the pieces of our downtown to carry the full load of determining whether or not downtown Sutton will have any look similar to today's in ten, twenty or thirty years. The Central Block is 128 years old. What will the west side of the south business district look like in 2050? Or the west side of the north end? Or the Bender Building? Unless.....

A few years ago there was a small group which made noises and some actual action to address the question of preserving downtown Sutton. The time was not ripe, or the effort was not there, or the hurdles were just too high. All that's changes since that time is that the situation has worsened. That will continue, unless.....

Unless what? Unless some sufficiently large group of Sutton residents and organizations decide that preserving downtown is a worthwhile objective and put some collection of smart heads together to figure out how, it soon won't matter.

The first question really is, "Is it worth it to save downtown Sutton's historic appearance?" And "No" really is a legitimate answer to the question. In fact, that is the implicit answer currently being "voiced." Is it not? Is that a consensus?

If not, let's do something.

Sutton's Sesquicentennial approaches - 150 years since the beginning of our town. We have choices about which specific event to measure 150 years from but current planning is for the year 2021, 150 years since the community of the banks of School Creek went from one homesteader to a hundreds of people, a railroad and dozens of businesses between April and the end of the year.

Wouldn't it be a great 150th Birthday Party for Sutton and Suttonites to celebrate the 150 year history of the community AND the prospect that the distinctive appearance of downtown Sutton will be here to enjoy for another generation or two or.........?

This comment has been inspired by a small cadre that is ready to stir the pot on this question. Stand by to be stirred.....

Jerry Johnson
402-773-0222 or better yet, comment below...

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