Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Um, Let's Not Do That

Retired sports editor Irwin Smallwood proposes in today's N&R:
Let's dismantle old [World War Memorial Stadium's] facade brick-by-brick if feasible, and reproduce it as a magnificent entrance way to the coliseum parking lot and as a fitting and significant memorial to those who have given their lives in all our wars.
Wow. That idea is just so wrong on so many levels. Let's start with the intended function of the stadium. Here's what mayor Edwin Jeffress said on the day WWMS was dedicated:
And so the stadium has been built by children’s and widows’ and wives’ and rich men’s wealth. It is here for the use of the coming generations; the soldier boys said they wanted no hollow granite, no useless monument to decorate our street corners, even no statuary or brass to remind us of those who have passed along after doing life’s full duty, but they wanted something that would be useful; that would help develop mind and body; that would in this way be a perpetual memorial to those who have passed…, that those of us who follow should use our best efforts to make ourselves physically fit to answer any emergency;…; and when the call to duty comes, answer with a clear, strong voice, “We are ready to do our bit.”
Mr. Smallwood is proposing to take a still useful and much-used stadium, and make of it a "useless monument" that its makers disavowed. I mean, the entrance to a parking lot?

I confess that I find Mr. Smallwood's idea of ripping one of Greensboro's major architectural landmarks from its setting, where it is much loved and valued by its neighbors, to be simply repulsive. It also goes against every good preservation principle I know. As Greensboro's historic preservation handbook says,
Each property shall be recognized as a physical record of its time, place, and use. Changes that create a false sense of historical development, such as adding conjectural features or architectural elements from other buildings, shall not be undertaken.
With all due respect to Mr. Smallwood, his idea is about the dumbest I've ever heard.

8 comments:

Sue said...

I confess to waiting for you to write this before I offered my 2-cents; after all, I read the paper at 6-ish and often before coffee, so I wanted to make sure I wasn't just cranky. I thought it was a dumb idea on its face (moving the facade) and even dumber when I read the part about the parking lot concept. I don't live in the neighborhood, but I do live in Greensboro, and it sounded insulting to both groups. I don't profess to be a conservationist; rather, I'm just a citizen. And I vote 'no' (if I get a vote) and I'm glad that my 6 a.m. brain registered true today.

Jim Rosenberg said...

What if we constructed a gorgeous ornamental gate that served as an entrance to the entrance to the parking lot? Would that help?

David Wharton said...

Sue, it was probably the editorial that made you cranky!

Jim: A gate to a gate ... did Jim Gallucci pay you to write that?

jimcaserta said...

I think people should come out to WMS to watch how it is used today. See how it is used in all settings - college, college summer leagues, youth and adult amateur. It is the one field that players and managers in my league are disappointed if they do not get a chance to play at.

Anonymous said...

David, you wrote "with all due respect" before calling Smallwood's idea the "dumbest I ever heard". You are so polite. Will you allow a battle ax old broad to make a more appropriate remark? Like, "It takes a dumb-ass to have a dumb-ass idea and to get print space in a dumb-ass dominated newspaper!" Thank you David. Brenda Bowers

David Wharton said...

Well, Brenda, I'm from the Midwest, and we're brought up to think the best of people, even when they say things we think are dumb.

Anonymous said...

David, I'm from West Virginia and we mountaineers, hillbillies, rednecks, whatever, are brought up to call it as we see it. As for thinking the best of people, I don't dislike Mr. Smallwood. I do however from his own words have some insight into his character. Smallwood as a long time resident of Greensboro should have known the history of the WMS and therefore should have known his solution/idea/brain burp goes against the very reason the WMS was built in the first place. Where then is the man's honor? So you see it was not the stupidity of the idea so much as the sacrilege and disrespect for those who have earned with their blood the freedoms we have in this country. Then to add insult to injury the N&R actually gave him print space! Sorry David, I can not and will not think well of this man. My comment is succinct and accurately applies to all those referred to.

And David Dear it is not true that your midwestern upbringing has taught you to "think the best" of people because you have been a sarcastic jerk to me since day one, and with no cause since I came to your site and read what you had to say with respect for your assumed intelligence. I commented when I could favorably, or said nothing if I disagreed. I was angry with Smallwood, the N&R and the city council for wanting to demolish this fine example of a living memorial. Brenda Bowers

David Wharton said...

Brenda, you are right that I was a sarcastic jerk to you in a post about the stadium. I mistook you to be denigrating Hoggard's longtime (and continuing) work on that project, and it made me mad. I apologize.

However, you got off on the wrong foot with me in what I think was your first comment ever on my blog, saying that I "often attacked" Ben Holder, when the case was that I had never done so. The opposite is true: all of my links to his blog praised him.

So my first impression of you came from a criticism of me that was both untrue and uninfomed. That impression has stuck with me.