Communities get identity from historic buildings

Letter to the Editor, St. Thomas Times-Journal
Tuesday February 14, 2006

When my family moved to St. Thomas in the late 1960s Alma College was a vibrant part of the community. Throughout my high school years, the girls from Alma in their distinctive uniforms, opened my eyes up to a world bigger than our town. In the early 1980s, I worked as a classroom monitor during the evening study hours. I clearly remember walking down huge hallways, a bit shabby but full of character.

My children took swimming lessons at Alma on Saturday mornings. A few years ago when I was getting remarried, we looked at the Alma College chapel and actually booked it, but then the property was sold, disappointing us greatly.

Alma College memories, all part of living in St. Thomas.

Over the past few years I have watched this once magnificent building go to ruin as Alma has been exploited for her materials. I attended the Municipal Heritage Committee meeting at city hall Feb. 7. Many people spoke on behalf of saving the college and the committee responded.

I drove to Alma after the meeting. As I sat in my car I felt an overwhelming sadness, looking at what the college is now in comparison to what she once was just a short time ago.

What makes our city different from others? Go to any town and it is a carbon copy of the last. The same shops with the same design.

Towns and cities get their identity from the old homes, churches and buildings. When you read about St. Thomas’s history, many of our fine buildings were lost to fires over the past 100 years. In the past few years, we have lost many more to mismanagement by our city hall.

Other communities have taken historic sites and celebrated them and in so doing, brought tourism and economic growth into the community. It would be criminal to lose this wonderful landmark.

Speak out, be heard and make a difference. Call council members and the mayor.

Donna Murray
St. Thomas