Decaying history

I love history.  I wouldn’t admit it at the time, but some of my favorite childhood memories involve visits to museums and historic sites.  Growing up hasn’t changed that much – I’m probably one of the few people who enthusiastically plan another visit to the metropolitan museum of art every time we visit NYC. 

I’ve blogged about this Shaker historic site before.  It’s become one of my favorite places to visit and photograph.   I don’t always come home with good images – after all, any sort of landscape shot in the depths of November will most likely be blah and boring.  It fascinates me and infuriates me at the same time.

This Shaker settlement is the first Shaker settlement in the United States.  It’s now a state historic site after being converted to state office buildings for a while.  The site itself is pretty large: multiple buildings dot the landscape, dwarfed by the huge institutional looking nursing home that has nothing to do with the Shakers.  A small lake past the buildings and apple orchard produces a nice little stream that cuts its way through the cow pasture and down between the buildings, disappearing behind the large barn. 

It’s a piece of history, and the state is letting it fall apart. 

Much of the buildings have been converted.  They’re all brick except for the main meeting-house, which is the only building that has been restored to its original glory.  Everything else is decaying, falling apart, with huge flakes of peeling paint and collapsing floors and porches.  What’s left of this history is literally rotting  into nothing.

It boggles my mind that this state has some of the highest taxes in the nation.  We pay a lot – from state taxes to house taxes to local sales tax.  You name it, we’re paying out the nose for it.  Yet somehow we don’t have the cash to keep our history from falling apart. 

I have a sneaking suspicion that if this historic site was located closer to the “real” part of New York – the city – it would get more attention.  But since it’s stranded up here in the part of the state that most New Yorkers think doesn’t count – upstate – it’s neglected and ignored.  It’s a shame. 

History matters.  It’s a shame the state doesn’t think so.


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