Havre Daily News - News you can use

It's important to preserve our past


We hope you have been enjoying our series of articles focusing on architecture, most of which can be seen in Havre's own Residential Historic District.

We will continue these articles this year, promoting our first and foremost goal of informing and educating the public about historic preservation and the wonderful treasures we have right in our own back yard.

The year 2002 was interesting, to say the least. Did you know that Peter Rabbit, the teddy bear, Barnum's Animal Crackers and the Alexander Smith House (also known as Keith and Bonnie Doll's house) all experienced their 100th birthdays in 2002? With the coming of the end of 2002 and the arrival of 2003, one reflects on the past while looking forward to the future. As is our tradition, we wrap up what Havre and Hill County have lost in the past year with respect to our irreplaceable past. Thankfully, we have not lost much, but with the razing of each structure, less of our history is passed on to the future. But keep in mind that a good preservationist knows what can be saved and what cannot. A small house on the 500 block of Second Street was torn down this fall, and the Jestrab house, commonly known as the "old chancellor's residence," quietly came down as well. A structure that several years ago had me thinking "why is that still standing" was the frame of a house on the outskirts of Box Elder. Each year it leaned a little more, and with the heavy rains this summer it went crashing down. While this structure certainly saw better days, and was by no means salvageable, if one is really into old buildings like I am, one stops to think "Who lived there? What did the house look like? What was life like there? What did the inhabitants do for a living? What happened to cause the building to be abandoned?" Questions such as these can go on into infinity; some can be answered and some cannot. What is important, however, is to record as much as possible, not only for the sake of local history but for descendants who come looking for information on a relative. A personal goal and a goal of the Havre Historic Preservation Commission is to photograph and record as many old structures in and near Hill County as possible. We have a great start on this goal, but also have a long way to go before completion.

The year 2002 saw many goals accomplished by the commission. The first year of the release of our walking tour map and guided tours offered during the summer months was a success, as was the quilt registry held during the Montana History Conference, our "Tradition of the Christmas Tree" presentation, the start of placing banners on the light poles within the borders of the Residential Historic District, and the formation of our preservation library.

We will be offering tours again next summer, partnering with the Hi-Line Quilt Guild to host another quilt registry next fall and presenting the "Tradition of the Christmas Tree" again next year, adding some to that program. We will be purchasing some more banners for the district and adding volumes to our library. Please be looking for an informational brochure on historic preservation later this winter or in early spring.

The Havre Historic Preservation Commission meets the third Thursday of the month at 7 p.m. in the Heritage Center second floor meeting room except August, November and December. For more information on the Havre Historic Preservation Commission, please contact Emily Mayer, Havre historic preservation officer, at 265-6233.


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