Thanksgiving 2008 and I am thankful for:
110-year old windows. One breaks on Tuesday night, so on Wednesday morning I fix it. Cost: a little over an hour of my time, $15.99 for the glass and $3.50 for putty (already had the glazing points). I am SO THANKFUL that I don’t have replacement windows. Because they can’t be fixed.
I am thankful I live in a town that has a viable, court-tested preservation ordinance which saves us from the teardowns and social pathologies that plague me-first suburbs like Kenilworth. I am grateful walking down my beautiful street to know that it will be a beautiful street next year. It is really that simple.
I am thankful that I work in Chicago, which has a vital and diverse downtown and recognizes that its vitality could not exist without its historic architecture.
Here’s a thought. You often hear people regret the loss of a beloved landmark in years gone past. How often do you hear the opposite? Like, “I wish they had torn down the Chicago Theatre and put up that highrise!” I never hear that, do you? Or, “Thank goodness they built that new McMansion next to my house! It really improves the neighborhood!” You might get a variation on that, however: “They built a new McMansion next to my house – now maybe I can cash in and get the hell out of here!”
I am thankful that we have a new President motivated by reality and not ideology, who is building a team based on ability rather than loyalty. I am thankful for the new students this year – both the historic preservation graduate students and my first-year undergads – both are VERY engaged groups, which makes the whole teaching-learning thing so much better in every regard.
I might even dare say I am thankful for technological advances, at least the 4% of them that improve our lives. Of course family and friends, but that has never been the topic of this blog. And of course, the SAIC who tenured me (the last vestige of the medieval guild system) and John Bryan who endowed my chair, and all of the great organizations like Landmarks Illinois and the National Trust (links at right) who put me on their boards. And most of all, this thing called historic preservation and heritage conservation which has brought me to see so many wonderful things in so many places.
(Kaliasha cave temple (16) Ellora, India, 1986)
These are my most prized possessions of all, and they are not possessions at all and they can’t be stolen or monetized or liquidated because they happened already.