The Portland Museum of Art plans to demolish the building at 142 Free St. This building is a beautiful and irreplaceable 19th-century work of art. As is typical of buildings inspired by classical Greek architecture, its beauty is largely exterior. What has happened to the interior over the years is immaterial. When we picture the Parthenon, we think of the building on the Acropolis, not the garish statue of Athena that once dominated its interior. The question of what to do with 142 Free St. is a question of beauty rather than a question of history.

For those of us of a certain age, it recalls the demolition of Union Station and its replacement by a strip mall. That act of cultural destruction was carried out by businessmen from away. This destruction of 142 Free St. is to be carried out by the Portland Museum of Art, which has a mandate to preserve beauty for the benefit of society. This destruction will never be forgotten and will always be part of the collective memory of Portland and Maine.

Alfred Riel

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