Letter to Editor - Preservation: Timely, Timeless

Geneseo Republic

 I recently drove into Bishop Hill from Davenport to deliver posters for the upcoming Bishop Hill Book Fair. At my first stop I was dismayed to find a petition asking for signatures to save historic colony-era buildings. I was reminded of the time, years ago, I was stopped on the street by a distressed visitor who asked how I, a resident at the time, would let such a thing happen. I was told about the roof of the Colony Church. I went to investigate and witnessed firsthand the dismal sight of blue sky showing through a gaping hole in the roof. Thankfully, the roof got fixed.

     That was then, today’s Colony Church and the tarp-covered Olson barn stand in sharp contrast to the Steeple Building, which has seen several rounds of repairs and improvements completed more recently than much of the state-owned property. No matter who owns an historic structure, care and maintenance must be ongoing and timely. Old wood exposed to nature’s elements cannot wait forever.

     I write about Bishop Hill and have found that my thoughts about the meaning of preservation have expanded. Preservation doesn’t begin or end at buildings; it encompasses individual lives, families, and communities—past, present, and future. I commend Courtney Stone for his efforts to bring these issues to light with his petitions. We have a lot of work to do to ensure this part of American immigrant history and culture endures and never fades away.

Mary R. Davidsaver

Davenport, IA