History is all around us and presents itself in many ways. Our town and families include components of a variety of history. The more variety, the richer we are as individuals and community, and historic preservation is known to draw visitors.
The county and Sturgeon Bay market our museums, which collect and preserve objects of cultural importance for educational purposes. We are fortunate to have our Historic Third Avenue, Maritime Museum, Door County Historical Museum and Miller Art Museum. Remove these collections of the past and what are we left with? Surely, we are diminished.
After the co-op buildings were removed and the granary remained, it became a principal part of the city’s first waterfront redevelopment plan. Why then, has the granary become an object of controversy and fierce rejection? Why can’t an idea morph and move beyond its original plan? Across the U.S., projects have encountered twists and turns, and with each reiteration, what emerges has value and is often more meaningful than the initial vision.
We know the granary raze order can be reversed, and/or other options explored, however, city council actions related to the granary have been confusing, contradictory and have not allowed for review of options. Fortunately, local media has provided good coverage of the proceedings.
We have a gentleman, George Evenson, who has given his time and talents to history and preservation. For Crossroads, he organized the moving and preservation of a church, school, grocery store and residential home. He was involved with the Belgian Heritage Center efforts and was president of the Door County Historical Museum for 22 years. At a council meeting, he spoke passionately for historic preservation of the granary, and said, “It would represent the city’s strong agricultural roots, upon which our county was founded.” Additionally, the visitor bureau and the city’s Historic Preservation Committee are on record to save the granary.
I think of the distant future, 50, 150 years from now, when the past is really the past and hope our grandchildren have the opportunity to become familiar with county history through as much authenticity as possible. I understand not everyone is a history or preservation enthusiast. However, most of us would agree that retaining our heritage is a worthwhile goal, as it offers connection and continuity to our past.
Unfortunately, the West Side Development waterfront history is messy. My fervent wish is that each idea can be viewed objectively and on its own merits. Remove, gone forever. Save, possibilities remain. We know the granary can be restored. In fact, our mayor stated such at a city council meeting.
By its actions, the city administration seems determined to want to reject ideas by those who want to save our history, and this opens serious questions to their motivation.
I’m confident, if preserved at its current location, the granary would become a community icon and would be featured on the cover of a Door County magazine. I hold onto hope.