Thursday, June 07, 2007
The collapse of the historic Teeple barn was preventable but saying that belies the immense effort and cost that would have been involved. There were many people who cared and worked very hard to avoid this tragedy. In the end time ran out and the elements took their toll. It must have been a crushing moment on Thursday evening March 24th when Lori Teeple realized what would come next. No one wants to see all their hard work come for naught, including family members who'd lived on the farm and preservationists who sought to save a piece of our community's history.
Why should we care about a slowly decaying old barn? I don't know if I can articulate the answer to that question. My feelings on this subject were galvanized at the age of 10, in 1957, when my family traveled to the east coast for summer vacation. One of the stops was Williamsburg, Virginia. I was mesmerized by the living history that surrounded me and the experience launched a lifelong appreciation of living history farms, museums and historical landmarks.
My children often joke that the only theme parks they visited as kids were battlefields and places like The Home Place in Kentucky (one of my favorites).
I've photographed hundreds of local barns that are falling quickly into oblivion. Can they all be saved and should the all be saved? No, of course not. They've passed their prime, farming has changed and their original purpose has disappeared. But we should strive to save the shining examples of the period. The Teeple barn was one of those exceptional examples.
If you care about history and preserving the past it's important to get involved, even in a small way. Is there a local preservation society or living history group in your area? Donate some time or talent to their cause. A hundred small gestures can make all the difference.
If there are no opportunities in your community I will provide you with a way to help another barn survive this fate. Tomorrow we'll discuss Garfield Farm Museum's effort to restore the barn that was struck by lightning and almost burned to the ground.