Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Victoria's heritage needs support to live on

By the Advocate Editorial Board
Sept. 2, 2013 at 4:02 a.m.

Victoria's rich history can be seen all around our city. We have historical markers that point out places of significance, historic homes that are featured on an annual tour and landmarks that have stood in our community for generations.

But sometimes, pieces of our history are forgotten and fall into disrepair. This has happened more times than we like, and some pieces of our history have either been torn down or removed, including historic homes, the Meiss Wind Gristmill and now the Zahn house and the J.H. McCabe Grocery building.

It is disappointing to see our historic landmarks fall into such disrepair, and we think it is time the city of Victoria takes action to help preserve our hometown history. These homes and buildings are pieces of the story of Victoria. Important members of our community lived, worked and raised families inside these structures. Every time we lose one of these buildings, we lose a part of Victoria's identity.

We've heard some good ideas from the community already concerning the future of the Zahn house. Some people are in favor of placing the house in a prominent place downtown to serve as a historic visitor's center. This idea has some appeal, as it would welcome visitors and tourists to our historic downtown area using one of the houses that is part of our hometown history. That would serve the purpose much better than a modern building that does not reflect the proud history and heritage Victoria has.

But while this one idea is a good way to save an individual building, we wonder how the city of Victoria can take a more proactive approach to prevent other historic jewels from falling into the same state of disrepair. A building only reaches that point after years of neglect or financial difficulty. We think the city should look into partnering with citizens groups interested in preserving our history such as Victoria Preservation Inc. in order to offer incentives or grants devoted to preserving our historic homes and buildings. We've already seen an amazing amount of progress in restoring downtown by allowing members of the private sector to invest in the area. Why not establish a similar community-based program to help preserve these homes?

After years of watching valuable pieces of Victoria's heritage fall apart or be removed to other locations one by one, it's past time for our city to take action. Waiting until a historic structure is beyond repair or requiring homeowners to undertake a massive renovation after years of neglect is too little too late. We must take action now to preserve our treasures before we lose any more.

This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.



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