Why does history fascinate us?
To many people, history is boring. Well, if history is boring, people have failed to make history come alive. There are certain historical landmarks that make a town a home. In my hometown of Downers Grove, Illinois, there is the Tivoli Theater and the Edwards House. One remains; the other is gone. If we aren’t proactive, more historical buildings will be torn down.
Is history truly exciting?
Look at the highest grossing, most memorable films: Gone With the Wind and Titanic. Look at The Phantom of the Opera. The musical made Andrew Lloyd Weber a billionaire.
Unfortunately, the historic Edwards House in Downers Grove, Illinois was shamelessly torn down last weekend without any respect for historical preservation. Houses of less respect have been moved to new locations. Our first house in Downers was torn down to make way for McMansions, but it was only a 1923 cottage. It didn’t have the stained-glass, plaster medallions, cornices, woodwork, and majesty of the Edwards House. The Edwards House will be replaced by boring condominiums that pop up like row houses in our town. Years from now, no one will look back and say, Why didn’t they build more condos? (yawn).
The Edwards House has special meaning to different people. It was an architectural wonder. A home for the families who lived there. A landmark to others who drove past it every day. A place where people worked. I used the Edwards House in my coming-of-age novel Julianna’s Secret. I refer to it as “the dark, turreted mansion.” As Julianna changes, the house changes. Truly, Julianna and the mansion are one.
So the historic Edwards House was demolished last week. Like the barbaric Goths who sacked Rome, the developer stripped the Edwards House of her stained glass, her pocket doors; even her ordinary doors. These barbarians have no respect for history or for architecture. Like the bungalows of the 1950s, more condominiums will dot our town, making everyone yawn with boredom. Nevertheless, the historic Edwards House will forever live in the hearts of people who respect and admire history and architecture. It was a landmark in Downers Grove that never should have been torn down. The Edwards House lives on!
You don’t believe me?
Remember, people the world over are still fascinated by the Titanic, the American Civil War, and the pyramids. To the people of Downers Grove, the Edwards House has its own special place in our hearts and in history.