Aug 212013
I was shocked to see the photo on page B4 of Fridays Aug. 16th News Gazette. For those who missed it, the photo depicts a University of Illinois employee in a bulldozer demolishing a house near the corner of Goodwin and Oregon in Urbana, and it clearly shows that all of the original door and window trim (as well as the old, multi-paned windows) are still in the house, being destroyed along with all the rest.

What possible excuse can there be for this kind of waste?

Why, at a time when landfills are overflowing, would the University heedlessly destroy perfectly good architectural materials — doors, windows, wood trim, lighting fixtures, hardware, flooring, siding, mechanical components, (and who knows what other interesting bits and pieces of the old house that could have been of use to artists and crafters) — when a local organization exists that will gladly come at any time and remove all of these things at no cost or risk of liability to the University whatsoever?

The Preservation and Conservation Association of Champaign County (PACA) has been a part of this community for over 30 years. PACA is a 501c3 nonprofit that uses the proceeds from its architectural salvage warehouse to not only support itself, but to also give grants to the community, scholarships to students, and sponsor educational opportunities for people interested in learning more about preservation and conservation. Since the changes of administration at the U of I, PACA has spent months making calls, stopping by offices, writing letters, filling out forms, and generally making a nuisance of themselves trying to get someone, anyone, at the University to sit down and talk with us about revitalizing and eventually formalizing a relationship that previously existed — and generally worked very well — for many years.

We still have hopes that this is just a temporary disruption and that we’ll soon be back on the University’s ‘to call’ list, but whether or no, the important thing is not that PACA has an opportunity to salvage these places before they come down, but that someone does.

Otherwise it is a deplorable waste of perfectly sound, still useful, and often irreplaceable material for absolutely no good reason.

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