Scoffing at 'Historic' Buildings

Read this article in the Gleaner this morning about closing a small, small school in Douglas. It’s the oldest continually operated school in Canada since opening in 1873. They don’t want it to close because it’s historic, as well as the usual arguments about smaller class sizes, etc. Let’s focus on their history argument …

A building this old could be considered historic, I guess. I wouldn’t know it’s “historic” if it didn’t have a sign to that effect strapped to the side of the building. I mean, it’s not like a museum or a finely curated historic house or something where you walk in and BAM the history hits you like going outside in -30 degree weather hits you.

And why are they closing the school? Apparently, it “has re-occurring water safety and air quality problems, needs a new roof, siding, insulation, windows and doors, and doesn’t have a sprinkler system.” Oh, they’re closing it because it’s unsafe for children. Crazy how older buildings are like that. Additionally, the list of things this building needs replaced includes everything you need to make a whole new building! There’s nothing but the frame and foundation that’d be left if we restored it - not very historic, eh?

I’m sorry, but I’m tired of people who invoke “history” as a way to justify their fear of change. When you give people like this enough encouragement, eventually you get a city of Fredericton riddled with enough by-laws to make it prohibitively insane to live or do business here. Renting a building downtown for your office? Sorry, you can’t put an office sign outside because that building’s “historic”.

Historic sites - real historic sites like Signal Hill in St. John’s - should of course be preserved. “Historic” buildings like the one in the article are just excuses to avoid change that NB'ers seem terrified of.


Posted on March 18, 2011