Preservation and decay

finetownhallsign1bI am not a nostalgic person. Nonetheless, I have a visceral fondness for old barns and buildings. These structures fire my imagination about the lives of the people who occupied and used the structures.

Late last month, on my way back from a station event in the central Adirondacks, I drove home through the communities in the northwest corner of the Adirondack Park, from Cranberry Lake to Star Lake and Fine, and then on to Edwards.

This is one of my favorite areas of the Park. No high peaks, true. But the landscape is open and down home. Wide tracts of undeveloped land and water, hidden pull outs to access rivers and lakes, and settlements that are simple and unadorned.

Very much a living center of Wanakena: the Pine Cone. On this day, a wedding party using the restaurant. Note couple between the two buildings.

Very much a living center of Wanakena: the Pine Cone. On this day, a wedding party using the restaurant. Note couple between the two buildings.

It’s also a region beset by economic decline in recent decades. Mining and lumber industries both disappearing, and tourism modest. (Check out Brian Mann’s recent story on the auctioning off of the Newton Falls paper mill and land.)

On my drive, I kept noticing old buildings that hinted at the story of a public life from an earlier, and perhaps more prosperous, era. Here and there, a building has been reclaimed for life in the 21st century (the Edwards Opera House, for example), but in general these structures are abandoned.

There’s a sadness–yes, the loss of interesting structures in any of our communities is a loss for all of us, but also I wonder how the decline of these structures reflects a challenge to the people of these communities to find a new way to build together. Across the region, it’s a challenge that we all face.

 

The old mill ruins--not the more recently built facility described in Brian Mann's piece-- outside of Newton Falls, just off Route 3.

The old mill ruins–not the more recently built facility described in Brian Mann’s piece– outside of Newton Falls, just off Route 3.

Newton Falls street, looking toward old mill chimney.

Newton Falls street, looking toward old mill chimney.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Newton Falls volunteer volunteer department still very much a part of the community's life.

Newton Falls volunteer volunteer department still very much a part of the community’s life.

Star Lake church.

Star Lake church.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Fine church.

Fine Town Hall, an historic building no longer in use.

Fine Town Hall, an historic building no longer in use.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Main Street in Edwards, across from the Opera House.

Main Street in Edwards, across from the Opera House.

The Edwards Opera House (and Town Hall), refurbished and reclaimed for performances in recent years.

The Edwards Opera House (and Town Hall), refurbished and reclaimed for performances in recent years.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Furnace ruins at Twin Falls, off Route 3. In lower right corner, you can see the raceway that controlled the water power flow to the iron smelting operation.

Are there buildings, or ruins, in your community that hold the stories and history of our past? If you’re interested in old buildings, preservation and regional history, check out your local historical society. And, you may want to visit Adirondack Architectural Heritage.

 

 

 

 

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2 Responses to “Preservation and decay”

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  1. And then there’s the round barn (now gone) in the town of Stockholm off CR47.

  2. And it sounds like most of the remaining buildings at the J&L mine will be torn down soon-ish. There are still some things that should be cleaned out, like metals & such. But not much of value is left there, and the roofs are gone or going.