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July 09, 2014

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Just curious as to why it's so important to save these buildings. Historic or not it's still a dead lot with no activity. I'm for saving historic properties but only if there creating value for the people of Salem. Just my opinion on the subject. THANKS for the blog and keeping people up to date on the current events in this city.

Tony, the goal/plan is to "repurpose" Howard Hall so it will be filled with activity. I've heard that there is someone interested in using the building for an educational purpose. There likely are others with other proposed uses, since Salem Hospital didn't make much of an effort to market Howard Hall for redevelopment.

Regarding historic properties in general, we need to keep in mind that this area (like most of the western United States) is unusual in its disregard for history.

I've been to Europe once. Buildings centuries old are common there. For example, what would Venice be like if all of the old buildings had been torn down and replaced with modern ones? My grandmother owned a house in Rhode Island that had, I recall, a "1789" on the chimney. It was charming, as are so many historic homes back there.

To them, a building like Howard Hall would seem modern. Yet here in Salem, it is viewed by Salem Hospital and many others as a derelict suited for demolition. My wife and I were at a family reunion in Madison, Indiana last week. The main street is wonderful -- filled with buildings from the 1800s. Again, much older than Howard Hall.

We have a throw-away mentality out here. We don't respect history, or historic architecture very much. Salem has already lost many buildings that would have added to the historic ambience of this town. Does everything need to look like south Commercial street and Lancaster Drive?

Plus, Howard Hall has a lot of meaning to the blind community. For this reason alone, it should be saved. Historic buildings, such as those in the downtown Historic District, add value to the entire community. Salem Hospital doesn't have a right to do what it wants with Howard Hall, either legally or ethically.

As secretary of the American Council of the Blind of Oregon, Willamette Chapter I can attest to the fact the blind community supports the unanimous decision of the Historic Landmarks Commission rejecting Salem Health's application to demolish Howard Hall. The Salem City Council is poised to reverse the Lanmarks Commission's decision not because the Commission made an error but for political reasons. This decision is very ill conceived. Please come to the Monday, July 14 City Council meeting and express your feelings about this issue.
Patrick Schwab, Ed.D.

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