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Sunday, February 28, 2010

image and branding

Today's News Journal and some of the other current discussions going on about our vision of Mansfield's uncertain future have me wondering why historic preservation is so little discussed. I remember Mansfield in the 1970s, and the N. Main Street area in particular, and if that had been the trend and future of the downtown, I would not be living here today.

There has been a tremendous improvement downtown, focussed on preservation and restoration, but I'm not sure people actually understand it. Most of my generation who would remember Mansfield 40 years ago, quit going downtown and haven't been back. And many younger people perhaps think it has always been this way.
Just like our industrial parks and outlying shopping areas, there are empty buildings and signs of the economic downturn, and the downtown has certainly contracted, but the new reality has its own vitality and is building a new identity on the quality architecture of the past.
I would challenge anyone to promote this area's identity and livability by only featuring buildings we have built in the last 50 years. Given the value of the historic architecture in the mix of all of the accomplishments we're proud of, as in any city of any size, it is time we included a discussion of how to protect these assets in our consideration of Mansfield's future.

Monday, February 15, 2010

more demolitions

I just reviewed a list sent over from Codes of 20 more potential demolitions for Historical Society input. Every time I go out and look at one of these properties I can usually look around and see two or three vacant abandoned properties nearby. And when you compare Mansfield today to what it looked like 60 years ago, it makes you wonder why people think demolitions are the first step to making things right…we’ve been demolishing houses and buildings for a long time and it never ends. The only improvements that have been made in downtown Mansfield in that time period revolved around restoration and preservation. Demolitions are a necessity, unfortunately, but it's time we looked on them as the drain on money, resources, and tax base that they are instead of as a panacea for improvement. It's time when we sit down to talk about improving the quality of life here, that we talk about ways to prevent abandoned and vacant properties, instead of just cleaning up after our ongoing failure to deal with this.

Friday, February 12, 2010

joseph allonas

The great-great grandson of Joseph Allonas has brought by two photogaphs: one of Allonas, and one of the entire family in front of the house on Prescott Street (see previous posts). There's very little of the house showing, but a great view of the front walk down to Springmill Street, fence, and gate. All0nas died in 1879.

Saturday, February 6, 2010


I had no idea our project to photograph old clothing this winter at Oak Hill would come up with anything quite so fantastic as the one I just posted on facebook. Above is a higher resolution picture. The label is Boue Soueurs, (Boue Sisters). They were most active from 1899 to the 1930s, and best known for their 1920s creations. I think this dress might be earlier, given its length and train. The condition is very fragile. Besides involving photography, our purpose is to properly store the clothing in acid free boxes, etc.