Landmarks are the soul of a city
I have visited your beautiful city before and marveled at some of the remarkable architecture from the river to Rice Park to Cathedral Hill. Yes, and I remember the big "1", it is truly among your outstanding landmarks. [MPR News Feature: Tough times for the beacon of St. Paul] It comes as most disturbing to me, a native of Atlanta and lifelong resident of the Atlanta area, to read that there are considerations to remove this remarkable piece of architecture or possibly otherwise alter it under the pretense of progress, finance, uncertainty, political fumbling or whatever...

I can recall as a young person growing up in Atlanta and environs, the wonderful sense of awe and amazement at all the great old architectural gems we had then. The two grand railroad stations, fabulous theaters that could make one feel as if they were in the midst of royal company, the great Arcade building, the imposing old hotels, and other fabled old buildings and homes that defined what Atlanta had been and was for us then. Sadly, now they are gone forever, in the name of "progress", money, greed, and whatever other expletives one wishes to add. If only some of our great "visionary" city leaders - citizens and politicians alike - had possessed the foresight and courage to stand in the way of the destructive forces that steamrolled over our remarkable treasures and gifts from past generations. Thank God Joe Patton, Atlanta Landmarks, and others that we were able to stand up resolutely to Bell Telephone. Literally blocking the streets stopped the razing of the Fox Theater, which incidentally has become one of the most profitable theater houses anywhere.

Ah, but lest I wander too far into fond memories of times long since past, I would like to say to the people of your community that they would be wise to look to the future in decisions that affect the very soul of St. Paul and what they would leave as their heritage for generations yet to come. There will never be an age when the landmarks that you now have can be replaced or reproduced; the spirit, the craft, the artistry, the dedication that guided these old buildings are forever gone, but you possess the physical gifts in these structures that never be erected again. There are many alternatives to consider, from adaptive uses to refocusing of energies into vital downtown economies and any where else your imagination can take you. Be kind, be gentle with your past, be thoughtful of your future.

Michael Collier
Flowery Branch, GA

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