Another historic Commerce building fell victim to “progress” this week, when the 132-year-old Pittman House was demolished to make room for the new Walgreens Pharmacy.
The destruction of the house, not to mention the magnificent oak tree on the same lot, illustrates a critical local shortcoming — we have no means of protecting our beautiful and unique old buildings.
Commerce recently adopted a demolition ordinance that will provide some protection for its central business district, but it needs a preservation ordinance to assure that growth and progress don’t come at the expense of our culture and heritage.
Commerce is not exactly Madison. We don’t have the quantity of stately antebellum houses, but we’re at risk of losing those grand old houses we do have, not to mention our historic downtown facades that make Commerce unique, at the point when after a fire or act of God takes out a section of the downtown and a Starbucks or a Rite Aid Pharmacy or any other business sees an opportunity to locate in our community.
Commerce can be business friendly without sacrificing its heritage. We have ample space to locate new businesses without allowing them to remake Commerce into one large strip shopping center. It’s time to protect our historic buildings while we still have some left — and before some Fortune 500 Company buys up a block of town to reshape in its own style. Without a preservation ordinance, the appearance of Commerce is left in the hands of people whose only interest is in making money out of it.
08/11/09 at 05:09 PM
My father grew up in the other house demolished to make way for the Walgreens. He and Oliver Pittman were first cousins and played in both houses; and other got into trouble. My grandfather was one of the first dentist in Commerce. It was so sad to see that both of the houses were gone and a modern Walgreens complete with large parking lot had taken the space of two historic houses and the adjacent gas station. Commerce does need an historic ordinance to stop this type of thing to happen again.