Seems to me that somebody, sometime, once said that time is the greatest healer of wounds. Nowadays we seem to be learning that even reminders of old wounds can create new injuries.
History is what it is. We can’t change it. We can’t erase it. We can learn from it.
Consider, if you will, the name of an occasionally controversial agency that crops up in the news locally at least once a month after a regular meeting — the Historic Preservation Commission.
Preservation implies hanging on to history. Is there a reason to preserve history? You bet there is, particularly when it comes to retaining some of the flavor of a growing, and ever changing, community.
I think it’s pretty interesting how the construction of Ira Levy’s condominiums at Third Avenue and Broad Street played out over the last decade.
Levy purchased the old Top Hat Formal Wear building at that location over 10 years ago. The building was not in good shape and Levy got permission from the HPC to demolish it. That was not an easy process. The site was used as a parking lot for a couple of years before Levy got the green light from the commission for the structure that sits there today.
The original concept was to construct something that was similar in appearance to the old Third Avenue Hotel, which was long go demolished.
Levy endured multiple arduous hearings before finally getting approval for the new building and while no one will ever confuse the Lofts at Third and Broad for a historic building, it doesn’t look all that out of place.
Of course you can tell it’s a new building, but it does not stick out like a sore thumb.
Certainly no more out of place than the Law Enforcement Center on Fifth Avenue directly across from the historic Floyd County Courthouse.
When it comes to architecture, modern design techniques can be integrated into historic settings and not look so out of place.
There’s an even greater example of this, but you’d have to drive a day and a half to see it. The new Museum of Civilization in Quebec City, Canada, is a magnificent structure in both size and significance. It was built right along the St. Lawrence Seaway as it flows into downtown Quebec, less than a couple of blocks from the 400-year-old original city buildings, many of which still stand.
It sits below the massive cliff that dominates Quebec City and separates, sort of, super-old historic Quebec from not-quite-as-old, but equally historic, Quebec City. It sits right below the magnificent Le Chateau Frontenac Hotel, built by the Canadian Pacific Railway Co. and opened in 1893.
To say that it dominates the Quebec City skyline would be the understatement of the year.
Yet this mammoth Museum of Civilization, which is obviously new, doesn’t look out of place with its historic surroundings. It’s worth the drive to Quebec City to visit. (But take this as a warning — flight arrangements from Atlanta to Quebec City are a nightmare.)
All of that takes me to — you know where. You’re an intelligent reader and could see this coming.
The statue of Confederate Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest and even the Capitoline Wolf statue have come under fire in recent weeks.
When we consider how we integrate Rome’s past with its present we should consider the future as well. I don’t have the perfect answer to the statue debate. Heck, I’m not sure I even have any kind of answer.
What I can tell you is that I have been unduly blessed with the ability to have done a little traveling over the past couple of decades. I love statues and monuments; they tell the story of a community. We could use more of them!
I had a chance to visit Rudesheim, Germany, a number of years ago. I rode a cable car to the mountain overlooking the city to visit the Niederwald Monument, erected in 1883 to commemorate the reunification of Germany. Yes, the same dastardly Germany that gave rise to Hitler a half century later.
I’ve seen the statue of Perseus, holding up the head of Medusa, in the piazza in Florence, Italy. A little barbaric don’t you think?
I’ve seen the statue of King Louis XIV of France, in Quebec City. You know, the king who virtually purged Protestants from France.
But back to some of our local monuments. Forrest is credited with saving Rome in 1863, albeit for just a year, during the Civil War. As best as I can tell, that’s what the statue is all about.
Others have called for the removal of the Capitoline Wolf statue in front of City Hall. Are you kidding me?
I will say the wolf statue does get a lot of attention from visitors to the city. If you had nothing to do all day, you could sit on the patio of Swift & Finch Coffee and spy on City Hall. I’ll guarantee that you’ll see somebody stop and take a picture in front of the statue.
It was a gift from the American Chatillon Co., which built the old Tubize/Celanese plant in Rome. Despite local fables, it was NOT a gift from Mussolini, though some city leaders felt the need to move it during World War II.
It’s going to be a little tougher to hide the Forrest statue if that’s deemed what’s best for the future of Rome.