So, is this how the Opera House was lost?
The James A. Garfield Historical Society withdrew its application to the Portage County commissioners for consideration to receive a community development grant intended to facilitate the rescue and restoration of the former Paul’s Grist Mill/Foote Building in downtown Garrettsville. It was all about financial fear. The front, more or less intact, building was built somewhere in the mid-to-late 1800’s and was an early industrial driver of the local economy, producing wagons and carriages. The rear two sections, the ramshackle ones, were probably added in the 1930’s or 1940’s, as part of the agricultural services offered there; no historical significance to mention, in need of demolition.
The historic building is in need of many things, no doubt about that. Architecturally, it cannot really be compared to that immense brick edifice, built in 1889, demolished in 1964, but think what a landmark Garrettsville would have now if the Opera House had not been abandoned, then taken down. Not alone a clock tower but village offices, an auditorium, storage space, perhaps, AND the original clock tower.
There’s a C&W song that has a line to think about–not just in this case but often–that says, “They paved Paradise to put up a parking lot….” The old Paul’s/Foote building doesn’t come up to that exalted standard, and a parking lot is part of the over-all plan but pitching this project for lack of funds and foresight is not a ringing endorsement of community spirit and/or commitment.
How did the current clock tower get built anyway? Was there just money lying around to be spent? Hardly. There was work to be done and it GOT done–planning, fund-raising, raising expectations; it was part of the United States Bi-Centennial celebration. If there are organizations, groups, individuals out there who could make this happen today, they need to step forward now, partner with the JAGHS, plan for next year(hoping that grants will be available once more) and get motivated to make something good happen for all of us.
Step right up.