by Diana Yost-
Some of you may remember a scene in the first Back to the Future movie where Marty McFly is being asked to donate money to help “save the clock tower!” I can’t help but picture in my mind that crazy old lady running up to him shaking her can of donations pleading for Marty to donate. She insists that he help “Save the clock tower!” She is referring to the old clock tower, located on the square in the center of the town. As you may remember, the clock tower had been struck by lightning and broken in 1955, and just laid in disrepair for 30 years. For this old lady, saving the clock tower was important because it had historical significance in the town. And for those of you who are familiar with the movie trilogy, you might also remember the clock tower being built in the third movie, taking place in 1885. It was a sign of the birth of the town, a symbol of the beginning.
I write about this as an example of historical preservation of significant buildings. Why do we preserve old buildings? An old, broken clock tower in a small town may seem insignificant for some. But for others, it tells a story. It connects its community to the past.
Personally, I am a huge advocate for preserving historic buildings. On one hand, being an architecture admirer I desire that the buildings be saved for their architectural quality. Aesthetically speaking, the designs of older buildings appeal to me much more than new designs. Historic neighborhoods just look better, if that makes sense. Appearance aside, historical buildings deserve to be preserved because they are a source of the past. Historians and the public alike can learn a great deal about a culture and a community from these buildings. What was the purpose of the building? Who designed it? Who lived/worked there? So many questions can be asked of these old buildings, and the answers can tell us so much.