We live in a society that cherishes new things with new features.
Old things must be conveniently disposed of. I write this with a Windows 7 computer, not the Apple IIe, typewriter, ballpoint pen or pencil that preceded it.
Our society even helps get rid of old things.
When we buy something new, the price often includes a disposal fee for recycling what it replaced.
With such clear bias for newer and better, why exactly are we paying up to $600,000 to acquire and relocate a century-old barn its owner wants to tear down? What benefit can justify the expense of adding an old barn at the Kirkland House? I know it's our "heritage," but what exactly does that mean?
Kirkland House was built a century ago.
A half-century later it was abandoned and nearly destroyed by determined teen vandals. Volunteers began loving restoration in 1993 and it was acquired by Delta in 2004.
The main floor is rented for meetings and the elegant grounds for weddings and social events.
Grounds rentals for 2012 are reported fully booked at $950 per day. I expect they will soon be renting space for barn dances, or whatever people do in old barns ... perhaps weddings when it unexpectedly rains?
Restored heritage buildings apparently have attraction for public use ... within limits. Their website boasts wheelchair access and modern washrooms, not lovingly restored privies.
Kirkland House is Delta's very own heritage theme park. They offer attractive venues for private events, but rather than being met by cartoon characters, one is immersed in Delta's heritage.
Instead of a big hug from Mickey, one is greeted by Delta as it once was.
How better to learn and appreciate Delta's heritage ... and the volunteers who saved it for us?
The key to preserving Delta's heritage buildings is public access and use.
Only when the public gets involved can they understand and appreciate what life used to be like.
The Kirkland House Foundation is a not-for-profit organization.
Events and donations fund ongoing restoration costs. Delta's help with their capital costs seems a cost effective and prudent way to preserve a sample of Delta's heritage for its citizens.
The heritage value of privately owned buildings that deny public access and use is more elusive.
Heritage has little value if you can't learn it! Many historic homes and buildings are hidden in plain sight.
Delta's heritage webpage provides information about major designated properties (6) and registered properties (79) and includes downloadable "passports" useful for locating and viewing. Delta's heritage seems carefully documented and helpfully presented.
While pondering heritage I visited Delta's museum. Delta has a unique and very interesting history, but there was little unique about the displays. I saw rooms with old furnishing and farm implements.
They are just like the ones I grew up with ... but I didn't grow up anywhere near Delta.
A room portraying Delta's distinctive and interesting history, the people and events that make Delta very special, would be a wonderful addition.