Thursday, August 6, 2009

Letter: It's time to speak up for local landmarks

Tom Cantlon was the Courier's token liberal columnist before Randall Amster, so I count this piece as a semi-column.

The core of it is rousing us rabble to stand up for Sharlot Hall Museum and the old post office. I want to confirm here that public involvement -- writing letters and email and making phone calls -- is effective in getting the attention of state legislators and shaping their views of public opinion. I'd suggest contacting not only Ms Mason, Mr Tobin and Mr Pierce for our district, but other rural legislators, legislative leaders and the governor as well. It really does matter.

A detail toward the end of the letter caught my eye, the idea of turning over the closed post office space to the museum. Readers who are paying less attention might conclude that Tom advocates moving SHM over there once the state sells off its land and buildings. Nothing like this will happen, of course. The state may pawn the museum, but the arrangement would be more like a secured loan (at high interest cost!) than an actual sale. Still wrong, but not so catastrophically wrong as to leave the museum homeless.

But speaking as a former museum professional, given its mission there's really not much SHM could do with the post office space other than turn it into an exhibit in front and storage in back and in the basement, and that only given enough money to staff it. Not really practical.


WaitWut? said...

Maybe because I'm originally from the "big city" I don't understand what all the fuss is about regarding the post office and the museum. Of course they need to be saved. Not the "post office", but the building. But, no one mentioned tearing it down. No one intelligent, anyway. I think what the one commenter meant about using the (possibly) abandoned post office was to have a "point of interest" type of display. Just a little storefront museum/shop with some curiosities and maybe a kid's "hands on" section that would peak interest in the actual museum itself. As it is now, we get a flowthrough of tourists that don't know about Prescott or the museum. Also, having the little "storefront" museum would add some culture to the Courthouse area. Not that Quiznos doesn't offer culture.

I'm not sure what the financial hit would be for the museum, but I think it would be worth looking into.

Steven Ayres said...

I'd encourage you to go down to the square, walk around for an hour and consider what the essential functions of a city center are, why the square continues to work for the community, not just tourists, and why functioning city centers on this scale are so rare today.