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LETTER: We’re losing L-A’s architectural soul

To the Editor:

What does it profit a man if he gains a parking lot, but loses his architectural soul? The paraphrasing of an oft-quoted Bible verse easily applies to the current tragedy taking place in Lewiston: the demolition of the building formerly housing the United Baptist Church.

The main photograph on the front second-section of Sun-Journal’s February 15 issue illustrates the crime against our cultural heritage!

And then there is the removal of the beautiful stained-glass windows from the former St. Patrick’s Church for transport clear across the globe to Japan (Sun-Journal, February 19)! Twice in one week, this daily newspaper revels in the wanton destruction and systematic dismantling of vital parts of the Twin Cities’ architectural landscape and history!

The ongoing stripping away of our artistic beauty and culture, much like the stripping of Christ’s garments before being scourged, cannot be explained by indifference or ignorance alone. It goes much deeper, to a total erosion of our values. The answer must lie in those thirty pieces of silver.

I never thought that I would witness the senseless elimination of our culture heritage in my lifetime. In an age of supposed enlightenment and awareness, we have not yet learned from our past mistakes!

One has but to peruse the marvelous book by Ralph Skinner, “The Churches of Lewiston-Auburn” to see all of the beautiful buildings now gone. I note particularly the stunning Bates Street Baptist Church and Pine Street Congregational Church as well as the predecessor to the present Basilica of SS. Peter and Paul.

There are also the former Dewitt Hotel, old St. Dominic’s Regional High School and Empire Theater. Will St. Patrick’s and St. Joseph’s Churches ultimately suffer the same fate as the United Baptist Church? If so, could the remark made several years ago, originating from Portland area circles, suggesting that the Twin Cities were a cultural wasteland, be that far off the mark?

We should all hang our heads in shame!

Brian Franck

Auburn

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