Historic Preservation: Not Everyone “Gets It”

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Midway Presbyterian Church

I recently spent the afternoon in Historic Midway, Kentucky, with an older friend who lives there.  I was admiring a rather modest, privately-owned, 19th century house that caught my eye. My friend scoffed at that, saying “who would want to live in something like that?” She offered her opinions of the wonderful Shaker Village of Pleasant Hill  near Harrodsburg, Kentucky (“nothing there” “boring”) and Colonial Williamsburg in Virginia (“why would anyone want to go there?”)  She humored me by walking with me to a historic cemetery (Sons and Daughters of Relief Cemetery), stopping at the entrance while I went on in to check it out. Finally: “Why are we here?”

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Unfortunately, my friend’s response is not an uncommon one, so I went in search of historic preservation talking points to work into future conversations.  😉  I found this excellent piece from the National Trust for Historic Preservation:

’That’s Not Historic!’

“A lot of good and honest folks roll their eyes when they hear that adjective applied to a building they’ve never heard of. Angry anonymous bloggers leave posts, and old men grumble. A building can’t be ‘historic’ unless Davy Crockett was born there, George Washington slept there, or a Civil War battle involving at least moderate bloodshed was fought on the premises…..

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National Trust for Historic Preservation (March 3, 2014–Adapted from Jack Neely’s article, ‘Nine Practical Reasons to Save Old Buildings’ at Metro Pulse.)

So with those points in mind, here are a few more photos from an afternoon spent enjoying local history in Midway:

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I plan to spend another day in Midway sometime soon.  Maybe I’ll invite my friend to join me for lunch before I head off on my own to explore more of Midway’s history.*   A win-win for both of us!

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*The Midway entry on Wikipedia offers these tantalizing bits of history:

  • Legendary thoroughbred racehorse Man o’ War was trained and first ridden by Midway native Joseph Bryan Martin, who is buried in Midway Cemetery.
  • In 1921, a mob took Richard W. James, a black man, from the county jail in Versailles and lynched him about a half-mile out of town.
  • Before European exploration, the area around Midway was inhabited by the Mound Builders. Two large and several smaller American Indian mounds have been identified on nearby farms.
  • Midway is Kentucky’s first railroad town (the tracks run right down the main street!) and got its name from its location halfway between Lexington and Frankfort.
  • Midway and Woodford County are home to many thoroughbred race horse farms.
  • Zeralda James, mother of Frank and Jesse James, was born in the Black Horse Inn south of Midway.  Her father ran the tavern.
  • The Weisenberger Mill at Midway has been in the Weisenberger family for seven generations. It is the oldest continuously operating mill in Kentucky and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

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6 thoughts on “Historic Preservation: Not Everyone “Gets It”

    1. Can you imagine a world of McMansions, shopping centers and strip malls?! Ugh! You hear people say that our historic buildings aren’t historic “enough,” citing ancient landmarks in other countries as their ideal. Well, those landmarks are there because they DIDN’T tear down their history!

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  1. I’m glad we are of like mind on this topic. Appreciating the past was something Mom nurtured and instilled in us. I feel sorry for people who don’t have that. I feel sorry for our historic buildings and ancestral stories when too many don’t value them.

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  2. Yes, we are lucky to come from a family that valued history and passed down the family stories. I know people who can’t even give you the full names of their grandparents, let alone any historical details (I’m sure you do, too!)

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    1. A very good point, Rich–thanks. 😉 I didn’t get to take a close look at it and I can’t even tell you what street we were on when I saw it. Let’s just say it was early in Midway’s history then! (I’ll change it.)

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