Recycling Buildings

“When we build, let us think that we build forever…”–John Ruskin, The Seven Lamps of Architecture

All too often, when a building has outlived its usefulness, much like Henryton did in its time, it is pretty much ‘left for dead.’ This is especially true of the buildings that were built in the times when asbestos and lead paint were commonplace. Buildings like this exist in every community in the United States and the normal response to these, if not to leave them to rot, was to tear them down to make a parking lot or a new building. But this is the most impractical of actions to take.

Buildings like those that make up the Henryton property are not only part of the historical record but they are just beautiful. Buildings like these are scarce resources and if this new green-trend sweeping the nation can tell us anything it’s that resources can, and should be, recycled.

This is not an outrageous practice, in fact it happens all the time. Massachussets, for example, has recycled several of its buildings. There is even a book on the subject that was published by The National Trust, Built To Last with a foreword by governor Michael Dukakis.

It is important to remember that all of our resources, whether man-made or natural, are limited. To simply look at an old building and question, “What has this building been?” is a limited approach. One must approach old buildings with the question of, “What can this building become?

Of course, the history is important and we do not aim to discount that. In fact, the historical importance of buildings such as the ones at Henryton should be reason enough to save them. All too often buildings of great historical importance are destroyed and lost forever. The Historical Society of Carroll of County doesn’t even have any thing in their records regarding Henryton. Go ahead, call them and ask. Absolutely nothing. So if we allow the state to destroy these buildings without a second thought–where will their legacy be? We’ll have nothing left but blogs full of pictures from urban explorers. Henryton must be saved.