Both Sides of the Fence

A Tosa resident since 1991, Christine walks the dog, cooks but avoids housework, writes and reads, and enjoys the company of friends and strangers. Her job takes her around the state, learning about people's health. A Quaker (no, they don't wear blue hats or sell oatmeal or motor oil), she has been known to stand on both sides of the political and philosophic fence at the same time, which is very uncomfortable when you think about it. She writes about pretty much whatever stops in to visit her busy mind at the moment. One reader described her as "incredibly opinionated but not judgmental." That sounds like a good thing to strive for!

Loving those old buildings (and bring your thoughts July 25)

Eschweiler Buildings, Eschweiler Forum, Barb Agnew, Historical Preservation

Heading home from work in heavy traffic, you inch and stop, inch and stop, along Hwy 45, inhaling exhaust from the idling cars around you. Each one holds a single person, as urgent and annoyed as you are.

Then your vision shifts to the east, where the old brick buildings stand sentinel above the fields, grass or snow covered. You relax a little. Your breathing loosens, your blood pressure drops a little. Beauty is like a healing hand, and now the moment is sweeter. In the space that has opened in you, your imagination starts to unfold.

 Ah, this place! These almost ruins, what could they be, there on the high ground?

If you’ve wondered that about the Eschweiler buildings; if you're a tilter at windmills, as I sometimes am here;  if you’re a lover of architecture or history or environment; if you’re a daring thinker or just concerned about your children and theirs, please join the indomitable Barb Agnew and her band of local heroes Wednesday, July 25, at 6:30 in the Firefly Room at the Wauwatosa Library, to see if there’s a way to stop the wrecking ball. Sponsors include the County Grounds Coalition and other preservationists. (More here  and here and here.)

Spurring the possibly last chance forum is a rumor that Mandel Group head Barry Mandel offered “If someone can save (the Eschweilers), I’ll sell them for $1.” The group had promised to restore the buildings as a condition of gaining development rights there, and now says it’s too expensive.

So that’s the challenge. Is there a better idea, a brilliant idea, that can save those buildings? One that works with apartments, the research and education mission of the UWM campus there, and the environment?  With one dollar and a great idea, (plus some savvy in crafting financial packages and a great-minded benefactor or two), what legacy could we create for the community and our children here?

As to why I love the buildings (or as one reader says, am obsessed with them), a lot is personal history. Our ideas are shaped in childhood, and mine was full of open spaces to explore and buildings to love. Dad was a designer, so I was schooled in what makes buildings work for people. That includes delighting the eye. I want my kids and other kids, my neighbors today and tomorrow, to have nature and beauty and quality in their lives.

I'll stop where Wauwatosa Patch editor Jim Price started: “For in the end, we will save only what we love, we will love only what we understand, and we will understand only what we are taught.” (Baba Dioum)

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