Out with the old prevailed

In following the discussion over the destruction or preservation of the historic concrete rail at Lake Helen, I recalled an inscription I once read on a memorial. It said “Future generations will judge us not by the monuments we preserve, but by those we have destroyed.”

In my 40 years as a resident of Gothenburg, we destroyed the historic powerhouse, a unique bandstand with rest rooms and a beautiful concreted fountain in Ehmen Park. E.G. West Park used to have historic rest rooms, a pavilion under the water tower, a beautiful fountain and fishpond and a very unique concrete and steel bench where the tennis court is now located.

No one seemed to object as these monuments to Gothenburg’s history disappeared. Another example would be the concrete block city jail that sat behind City Hall and preceded the “new” jail cells (now gone) that came with the new City Hall in 1939.

The old jail building had a steel bell tower over it which supported the old fire bell. And later a genuine siren used to announce a fire. A horn was atop the tower that sounded in unison with the phone in the police station. If no one answered the phone, the horn sounded until the caller hung up.

When I served on the City Council in the 1970s, there was a push to demolish the Lafayette Park pavilion and replace it with a heated, air conditioned steel building complete with a kitchen. Under the “out-with-the-old, in-with-the-new” philosophy which was so pervasive in those days, I supported the plan until my wife, Gail, threw a royal fit at even the suggestion. Thereafter, I opposed it and in retrospect I’m glad I did!

I am thinking today’s preservationists in Gothenburg would welcome the return of any of the demolished monuments I have cited in this letter.

Keith Fickenscher, Gothenburg resident 1947-1985