I feel YOUNG today! Sure, the arthritis in my spine is making me walk like an old man, but last evening, at McFerson Commons (Arch Park), in front of the reconstructed and twice-moved Union Station Arch, Nancy Recchie, Franklin Conaway, Jeff Darbee and I re-lived, to a Columbus Landmarks audience, the now-40-year-old story of how we (and others) stopped the surprise Friday night demolition of the Daniel Burnham designed terra cotta arcade with a midnight temporary restraining order (the first time this had been done using Federal historic preservation legislation), organized to disassemble the remaining arch, realized ways (it took three years) to raise the money to re-erect it in a new park, and along the way create the Columbus Landmarks Foundation to educate people and advocate for historic preservation and quality urban design in our region. Today, Landmarks is a well-recognized and respected institution in Columbus, with a voice that has helped raise the bar on urban design and which has virtually eliminated late night clandestine demolitions.
(By the way, 20 years later, Schooley Caldwell was responsible for designing the move of the Arch from its 1979 location to McFerson Commons, but that’s a story for another day…)
Why am I telling you this now? Because I was 23 at the time. Most of our group was under 30 (Franklin, maybe just a couple of years older), and, yes, we had some “adults” helping us (one was even a rocket scientist who had previously been the person responsible for deciding just where the moon lander would set down). John Schooley and Bob Caldwell were early supporters of our efforts, donating time (mostly Tom Matheny and me), office resources and modest amounts of money. All of us subsequently became lifelong best friends–another benefit.
One of the greatest things about living in Columbus (I am transplanted from the East Coast) is that here, if you are passionate about something, and work hard at it, YOU CAN MAKE A DIFFERENCE! You don’t have to be old, or wealthy, or well-connected. As architects and designers, we are, by definition, passionate people . . . so to all of you, especially our great young professionals, I say go out and ‘join up’ with issues you care about, and make our city a better place!