Monday, January 15, 2007

Help Restore Downtown Buildings

I would like to direct these comments to the owners of historical buildings in downtown Brownsville.

Recently, there has been a flurry of restoration and renovations throughout downtown, which includes west downtown. This restoration of both commercial and residential buildings has been going on for some time and every year the downtown looks one building better with each restoration. Unfortunately, there are those who don’t feel the need to do the same for their buildings. If you walk down Elizabeth & Washington Streets, you will see buildings that have been neglected for so long that are now a shell of their former selves. Looking back at pictures of downtown from the early 1900s and you get a sense of what these majestic buildings must have looked like at that time. Fortunately, many of these buildings still exist but have been “modernized” during the 1940’s to 60’s. They lie behind aluminum sidings, bricked up, covered, ignored or even butchered but many have survived the brutal assault with disdain in their appearance.

I now politely ask the current owners of these forgotten buildings to help restore these beautiful and majestic icons of their time. Then, and only then, will downtown be the crown jewel for architecture and restoration south of San Antonio and be the marvel of the RGV! Yes, it is costly to restore but please consider this; if it is not done, these buildings may not be around for another 100 years to be enjoyed by the citizens and tourists alike in their time. The time is now because weather, pollution, neglect, and time take a toll on these buildings. They could easily last another 200 years with a little TLC.

When purchasing or owning historical buildings, it should be realized that you are now part of that history and share the responsibility and duty to care, maintain, and/or restore these wonders of our city. So please consider my pleas and do the right thing; restore your historic building or residence and see how people will once again want to live and work in a fully restored downtown that will equal or surpass that of downtown San Antonio! What it lacks in height makes it up for in architecture and density that few downtowns have in the nation.

On a final note, I would like to thank the owners of historical commercial and residential buildings in downtown (east & west) that have taken great care and expense at restoring a part of our history such as, but not limited to: The Bollack building, Dancy building, 409 Galleria building. La Madrilena building, The Cueto building, Alonso building, the Kraigher House (on Paredes Ln), and many, many more that are too numerous to mention in this column. Thank you very much and hope to see more buildings come around until one day downtown is fully restored and then can the City say or advertise Brownsville as a historic city.

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