By Emily Mayer Lossing
National Historic Preservation Week is set for May 13-19, 2001, and the Havre Historic Preservation Office is excited and making plans to celebrate our heritage during that week. The theme this year is "Restore, Renew, Rediscover Your Historic Neighborhood Schools." All over the United States, thousands of historic schools are being abandoned and demolished to make way for larger, more modern schools away from neighborhoods and community centers. This year, preservationists across America will celebrate historic schools that have been saved and preserved, speak out if a historic school is threatened with demolition, and remember the schools that are no longer an anchor in the community. In a partnership with the H. Earl Clack Museum, the HHPO will feature photographs of schools in all of Hill County. However, we need your help. What do you remember of the school you attended? Who was your teacher? How did you get to school? Is your school still providing an education to children? We feel that what really truly makes a place historic is you, and we invite and encourage you to send in your reminisces of your days in school. We would like to have your history on hand for others to enjoy at our festivities during Historic Preservation Week. Your writings will then be archived for future reference at the museum. If you were a student, teacher, staff person or volunteer, we would love to have your experiences on paper. Remember, we are not limiting the stories to Havre only. If you attended any Hill County school, we want to hear from you. Incidentally, while Havre and Hill counties contain a great many older schools, there are only two listed on the National Register of Historic Places - the old Robins School and the old Junior High School gymnasium, which was demolished several years ago.
We also need your help in another area! One of the projects that the HHPO has decided on performing is the clean-up of the old Veterans' Memorial next to the Jestrab home. This was a site that participated in many ceremonies honoring those who fought and died for the United States. It was abandoned many years ago, and the HHPO has decided that we cannot afford to lose or forget this simple and honorable piece of our past. If you or someone you know was involved with the original dedication or if you are a veteran, or just want to help, we would be pleased with their and your presence in assisting us to clean it up a little. The prairie grasses are tall and there is a lot of broken glass there, but we feel that cleaning it up and keeping its memory alive is important to us all as Americans. We should never forget the sacrifice offered to preserve our freedom nor should we neglect sites dedicated in their honor. We plan on cleaning up the Veterans' Memorial during Historic Preservation Week, but the date has not yet been set. It will all depend on the weather. We all know that there is a real possibility of snow during May!
Another agenda item for the celebration is personal stories of preservation projects. Some folks have some great stories of how they worked to preserve a historic building or site. It is easy to look at a preserved home and admire it, but quite another for the person(s) involved in doing the work. While all of it is rewarding, not all of it is fun!
Mayor Phyllis Leonard will be asked to read and sign a proclamation declaring National Preservation Week. Our mayor and City Council is to be commended for their efforts in keeping historic preservation a vital link in the area for tourism, economic development, and downtown revitalization. I like to say historic preservation is tourism and equals economic development. Last, but certainly not least, will be the presentation of the third annual Havre Historic Preservation Award. This award was created in 1999 to thank those who have worked diligently over the years to save a piece of Havre history. Nominations are now being accepted for the award. The criteria are: 1) The home must be either a primary or contributing structure in the Havre Residential Historic District as outlined by the National Register of Historic Places in 1989; 2) Alterations and/or additions to the home must not deter or destroy the historical integrity of the structure nominated; and 3) There must be an ongoing commitment to preserving the nominated structure (simply replacing the roof on a home will not quality, when there is no intent of preserving and maintaining the structure as a whole). If you are wondering if a particular home will qualify, please call me at 265-6233 and I will let you know. Please mail or drop your nominations off at the Havre Historic Preservation Office, 306 Third Ave., Room 306, Havre, MT 59501. Nominations are being accepted until April 30 and the recipients will be notified shortly thereafter. It is important to note that this award is earned, not won, and therefore if there is more than one home nominated that fits the criteria, there will be multiple awards received. However, if no nominations are received or if the homes do not fit the criteria, then it will be noted as such in the records and plans will be made for the fourth annual Havre Historic Preservation Award next year.