History is taking a beating recently with the tearing down of statues and the defacing of monuments, and now one of Wellsville’s most iconic buildings is going up for sale.
At the last meeting of the village board of trustees they voted to move forward with the plan to put the former Municipal Building up for bid. They will have the bidding documents and requirement ready by the next board meeting. I don’t know if they have put a value on the building. It might be easy to put a price on the building, if it were just a building, but it will be very difficult to put a price on the history of the building and the role it has played in the village’s life.
From its façade engraved with the names of iconic authors, to the clock in front with its stained glass scene of hot air balloons towering over a field of memorial blocks, engraved with the names of residents to the memorial bench, it will be hard to determine the value of the building to anyone, but someone from Wellsville.
The mayor has said it is his hope that whoever gets the building will not greatly alter the interior. But what possible uses can facilitate the curving stairway down to the ground floor or leading up to the meeting room and offices?
I can’t imagine anything, but more offices. It would be difficult to turn it into a restaurant. It would take someone with more vision than I have to turn it into an eatery.
It was built as a library. Since we have a pretty good one setting across the street from the former Municipal Building, I cannot see it being returned to its original purpose. Although it might be a fascinating place for a bookstore.
As I said it will take a person with more imagination than I have to turn it into something else. The one thing I know for sure is that there has to be a plan for it. The board needs to guard against anyone making a bid, no matter how big and attractive, that is unrealistic. No one wants another historic building debacle like the depot. We don’t want to watch another beautiful building fall into disrepair and become an eyesore, because of an irresponsible landowner who lives in a different town.
I have mentioned it before, I think the building should be GIVEN to the Thelma Rogers Genealogical and Historical Society to be used as a museum for Wellsville. The current Dike Museum is too small to house and display all the memorabilia from the village’s 167-year history.
That building, with its rare hose drying tower, could then be used exclusively as a firemen’s museum.
Then Wellsville would have two museums to attract tourists.
I hate to see the Municipal Building lose its place in history by becoming something less than historic.
I feel much the same way about the statues and the memorials that are being defaced and torn done. What is next, the Statue of Liberty? How many Irish and Italian immigrants sailed past that monument on their way to years of indentured servitude instead of true freedom?
In this new age we’re running into where everyone is so sensitive about the nation’s history, we need to rein in our emotion. Instead of tearing down statues and memorials use them as a teaching moment.
They want to obliterate the facade on Stone Mountain, why not add to it with the story of Martin Luther King, Rosa Parks and Katherine Jackson. Broaden the meaning of the statues and memorials by recognizing the contributions of Black Americans. Do not cheapen American history. Accept it for what it was and do better. You know the saying, "forget history and you are doomed to repeat it."
As for the Municipal Building, like the other historical buildings on Main Street, its dignity needs to be preserved and what better way to preserve it than to give it to people who revere history.
— Kathryn Ross is a longtime reporter and columnist for the Wellsville Daily Reporter and The Spectator. Her column appears in print on Fridays.