I’ve wandered into what looked like lung cancer-covered walls. The sketchy white and black substance growing in between the cracks of the abandoned and desolate bathrooms of the forgotten insane asylums still linger there — even 40 years after their discovery. It amazes me to think that people could just leave buildings there, expect someone to do something about them, have no one come to their rescue, and then complain that they are a health hazard.
If that person had not just said “Ok, let’s leave this decrepit building in someone else’s hands, but I don’t want any part of deciding who that will be.” then we wouldn’t have this problem. Buildings are not just animals you can leave by a shelter and wait for someone to bring them inside. Buildings are all alone in the world. No one’s going to come one day, see this asylum or mansion on top of the hill, and say, “Well, gee, I better go make sure there’s no mold or asbestos festering in those walls.” While, yes, it goes against my moral standpoint of saving buildings, it is important to remember why, in fact, people knock down buildings in the first place.
Most, if not all, the time, environmental experts and toxicologists will evaluate a building based on its impacts on society and the habitat surrounding it, and will come to a conclusion that it is not savable.
There’s an element here that is contradictory.
I, too, would like to stop teens and the homeless from visiting and housing themselves in these horrid conditions. However, if we bring attention to the health hazards, more often than not, the building will be immediately torn down.
It’s just not fair. We need to save the buildings, not erase them. But, the preservation world experiences ongoing battles. The most we, as citizens, can do is write letters or sign petitions. Go to events that would benefit a historical society, then talk to those who you have given money to and ask for their support.
I have gotten emails responding to my requests, all of them said that they would love to help but the issue is just too big for them to help take care of. We need to make the issue not seem like it’s unsolvable.
This generation seeks to find an easier way to go about things — why not do it with buildings?