Preserving our past
Upon reading in the paper about an impending demolition of the historic structures in Emma, I went before the Board of Pitkin County Commissioners and pleaded with them to initiate some type of action, if at all possible, to save these historic structures, before they become lost forever by indifference.
Our past is what sets us apart from the ordinary and makes Aspen and Pitkin County so extraordinary. Not only is the history of this community written in the events of its residents, but also in its physical form. The artifacts, relics and ruins of our mining and ranching years, the proud and stately public buildings, the gracious homes or the humble cottages of yesteryear, all serve to remind us of our unique heritage. If the remnants of our past are not preserved, if we do not honor our past by its preservation, then where will generations to come learn of our struggles, our trials, our triumphs, our failures and our successes? Each year, one or more buildings, an old byway or a remnant of the past, disappears from our collective memories, until only a faded photograph or recollection can recall those places of long ago.
Today, as we assess our preservation efforts, it is our responsibility to direct change in a manner that will preserve our unique historical and cultural heritage. We must not allow our heritage to be lost; and those physical reminders of a place in time must not be altered or destroyed beyond recognition. A community’s greatness lies, not only in the preservation of its past, but also in its future. We owe it to the future community and to our progeny to maintain that sense of place in time.
Let us then strive to preserve all that will convey our history. The old tree with its graceful limbs, the bent iron gate, the derelict ruin, the leaning tombstone, the soft brick or weathered wood etched by time should not be discarded for mere forms of function. Even a collection of old junk and artifacts can have historical significance.
Preservation is more than a faded photo of times-gone-by in a dusty museum or a marker on the front of a building. True preservation is life itself. Just as the performance of a symphonic work makes the music immortal, so should our preservation efforts recapture the life of our times, both past and present. Our yesterdays then, will become a part of tomorrow.