Friday, May 13, 2011

That Which They Labored For...

I opened the local newspaper’s website this morning and immediately felt sick to my stomach.

I’ve tried to remain vague on this blog as to the Einsel House’s exact location in Ohio, but I’ll admit today that I live in Seneca County.  Seneca County - where thanks to Governor Kasich’s budget cuts the county commissioners have new ammunition in their seven year long fight to take a wrecking ball to the county’s 1884 Beaux Arts courthouse. And where just yesterday the same commissioners cited Kasich’s budget as justification to cut funding (all $42,000 a year) to the Seneca County Museum. And then while they were at it they also decided to sell the 1853 Greek Revival housing the museum and all of the contents thereof.

From the Toledo Blade article linked above:
The news, which came after no public discussion, was a shock to those who are involved with the museum and its foundation. Seneca County began its collection of local history artifacts in 1915 and moved into the Greek Revival home on Clay Street in 1942.

Some items could be sold by auction locally, [Commissioner Dave Sauber] said, while some of the more valuable items -- paintings and some antiques -- could be sold through New York auction houses.  The extensive collection includes numerous items that were locally manufactured or have local significance such as a large collection of Tiffin Glass. Many items were donated by residents who wanted them to be shared with the community. 
"Once it's gone, it's gone," [Museum Director Tonia] Hoffert said. "There are items in here that once they are sold off, you'll never find them again."
I don't even know what to say.  I just feel ill.

". . . Old buildings are not ours. They belong, partly to those who built them, and partly to the generations of mankind who are to follow us. The dead still have their right in them: That which they labored for . . . we have no right to obliterate. What we ourselves have built, we are at liberty to throw down. But what other men gave their strength, and wealth, and life to accomplish, their right over it does not pass away with their death . . ."    ~John Ruskin 1849, "The Seven Lamps of Architecture" chapter 6


  1. That is totally absurd. The state budget has to be balanced, I understand that, but surely taking care of a county's heritage is everyone's (i.e., the government's) responsibility?

    I cannot understand people who see value as a commercial commodity alone.

  2. That is sad and shows how irresponsible governments really are, especially when it comes to history. I suspect that the decision came from those that were not raised in the area or was not taught in the history of their community because anyone with respect for where they came from doesn't destroy what those that came before them worked so hard for.

    I sure hope some severe backlash results in them canceling the future sale of the museum and the contents. I find it interesting that the decision came with no public discussion. It's the taxpayers who should have the final word on what happens, not these commissioners. And while $42k a year isn't chump change it isn't so high that if the community could come together on this, surely there would be a way to keep the museum operating by way of donations.

    Keep us up to date on what happens.

  3. State budgets are so depressing I don't know what to do. I haven't heard about any building destruction recently, but here in CA we recently got word that ALL my family's fave state parks will be closed for the summer. Keeping my fingers crossed for you!

  4. I'll be sure to keep everyone here updated on this situation. I'm pleased to say that the local outcry has been immediate and loud. In a sort of twisted way it's kind of nice to read all the letters to the editor with people standing up for their history. I'm just upset that the letters are necessary.

    The local newspaper has been running a poll on what should happen to the museum. So far only 8% of respondants approve of closing the museum. The remaining 92% are split 21% keep it open and funded with taxpayer money and 71% turn it over to a nonprofit organization to manage.

    (And Kat - that's awful about the state parks. Ohio's state parks are still open, we're just contemplating allowing 'fracking' by oil companies to get to the natural gas under them. Who cares about residual earthquakes or polluting our water when there's $$$ to be had?)

  5. Well, this is sad, but it's more important that the 2%ers not pay their fair share.

    (sarcasm off)