LETTER: SD’s historic buildings should be saved, not condemnedThe damage that occurred with this building was part of the façade — the “face” of the building. No structural damage occurred.
By: Lauretta Cole Larsen, Mitchell
To the Editor:
A large thud. The sound had not come from my building, so I stepped outside to see the cause.
A large piece of concrete had fallen to the sidewalk from the pediment above on the adjacent building. I phoned it in. The police took some time to get there and proceeded to block off the area.
The store owner two doors down pointed out to the ladies standing in front that the damage was not structural. As one could easily predict, the tongues were wagging the next morning about tearing down old buildings.
I heard someone had commented that the footings were bad. I can tell you for a fact that when rain deluged the area, the rock foundation of its adjacent building had absolutely no water infiltration.
The same gentleman also commented that an area farmhouse built in 1886 had a stone foundation that remained solid while a concrete wall built much later collapsed.
Speaking from experience, I am not a fan of concrete, especially as it relates to historic structures. Historic buildings were made of materials which allowed the natural flow of moisture and air. Many used a lime mortar made the same consistency as the surrounding stone to allow moisture to flow, leaving the structure intact. Concrete, when it gets moisture in a crack, breaks. The piece that fell was made of what was then a revolutionary new building material, concrete. The damage that occurred with this building was part of the façade — the “face” of the building. No structural damage occurred.
Historic buildings were made with a great deal of skill, and the wood in them is far superior to what we use now. Each stone was carefully placed, so that even if the wall were freestanding without mortar, it would continue to stand. Think of the many castles in Europe that are centuries old. We in South Dakota can be so quick to condemn, both literally and figuratively. If we in South Dakota do not change our attitude that everything has to be new, we will soon lose our heritage. Save our historic buildings.