Cities on the East Coast, and especially in the Northeast, have and will continue to have the opportunity – some might even say obligation – to preserve the history of this country. I could not agree more with architect Roger Richmond, whose solution to the Portland Museum of Art controversy over the demolition of the former children’s museum is to save the faςade and modernize what’s behind. While not the best solution, it is one that is workable.

Think of Philadelphia, Boston, Charleston or the oldest city, St. Augustine, Florida, where identity that only the past can give has been maintained. These are places where the new does not displace the old, where cultural heritage is valued, where character is kept alive, where there is a link to our past that made us who we are. As Richard Moe, past director of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, put it: “Preservation is simply having the good sense to hold on to things that are well designed, that link us with our past in a meaningful way, and have plenty of good use left in them.”

It is too easy to create an ordinary city. Tennessee Williams once named three cities with unique identities and then said that everywhere else is Cleveland. I earnestly hope that Portland does not become another Cleveland.

Anne Nelson

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