This Place Matters

This Place Matters 2You might have noticed the Facebook posts featuring a photo of a person with a sign (“This Place Matters”) standing in front of a historic building in Montgomery. May was National Preservation month and there was big push to spotlight some Montgomery landmarks. However, the “This Place Matters” campaign, promoted by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is ongoing.

A visit to their friendly website provides a lot of info and a bunch of fun photos. The site explains that the “This Place Matters” project allows us ordinary folk to “Speak up for the places that are most important to you.” The colorful page discusses the campaign in detail:

Everyone has places that are important to them. Places they care about. Places that matter. “This Place Matters” is a national campaign that encourages people to celebrate the places that are meaningful to them and their communities … through“This Place Matters,” we hope to encourage and inspire an ongoing dialog about the importance of place and preservation in all our lives.

So there you have it. The site provides signs, a campaign tool kit, and encourages the use of social media. Lots of people have posted their favorite place right on the site. You can too. The site also offers merchandise such as banners, yard signs (I’d like to have one), T-shirts, and buttons. I think it would be weird to have “This Place Matters” across my chest, but maybe that’s just me. Scroll on down and you can see a bunch of cool photos of little known places (that, of course, matter) such as Central High School in Little Rock and the Elisha Morse House (1870) in Minneapolis. The site allows you to join, donate, and/or get emails.

Instructions for participating come in three easy steps: 1) THINK (the most difficult!) What place matters to you? This place needs to have historical value. 2) SNAP Have a friend snap a photo of you and a sign at a place that matters. Selfies work too. So you don’t have to have a friend. Ha! 3) SHARE. Share your photos using #MgmMatters and #ThisPlaceMatters. Most posts included a few lines about the place’s history. You can download the sign, or you can go by the gift shop in the Loeb Building at Old Alabama Town and get one.

Montgomery’s preservation organization, Landmarks Foundation, has been promoting “This Place Matters.” On Facebook I have seen the Winter Building, the Chappell House, and Union Station. There were probably others I missed. While it is true the city has lost a lot of historic buildings, a lot remain. Some are renovated. Some are undergoing renovation. Some need renovation. Some are in danger.

So I decided to take a personal approach and bring attention to a historic house on my street: 102 North Lewis Street in Capitol Heights. The bungalow is at least 100 years old and possibly designed by Richard Whaley. It is part of Montgomery’s history and part of my history. I know the house personally; it has great bones and a lot of character. It currently needs a new owner and a lot of work (and it is priced accordingly, and even that price can stand some negotiation). But it will be a comfortable beauty when it is fixed up. The owners will have great neighbors – the Belser House is across the street, and I live two houses down.

This place matters because it is a historic home in a historic neighborhood. This place matters because it is on my street. This place matters because I want to see the house loved and taken care of. I want to have good neighbors. I want to see a new roof, and people sitting in a swing on a newly painted front porch. I want to share plants, invite them to potluck, look at plans for the kitchen and bath (we all redo our kitchens and baths). I want to introduce them to Sweeney Lou and Dolly. I walk by and drive by this house multiple times every day. It is important to me that it is seriously renovated and owned and lived in by new members of our community. All of that matters to me. This place matters to me.

Karren Pell is a writer, teacher, and performer who lives with her husband, Tim Henderson, and an assortment of cats and dogs in Capitol Heights. She is the author of three books. Her musical compositions range from commercial songs to theatrical works, with five musical adaptations to her credit.

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