(Toledo, OH) While walking with my wife through Toledo's historic Old West End today (this is the final day of the Old West End Festival) I stopped to gaze for a few minutes at a pair of old buildings that once operated as hotels: the Georgian Manor and Collingwood Manor. Unfortunately, the Old West End Historic District Commission recently voted to demolish these structures, and two more pieces of Toledo's vanishing history will likely fall victims to the wrecking ball.
Even more distressing is that these once-proud buildings are in such a state of decay that it would take millions of dollars to refurbish them even to the point where an investor might be willing to consider purchasing them. The only residents the buildings have hosted in the past few years have been squatters, though the thoughtful article by J.C. Reindl of the Toledo Blade claims that units were rented out until a few years ago.
The neighborhood is faced with essentially two choices: tear down history or watch it continue to decay. I had to scrape away a few years of accumulated leaves and debris to read the still beautiful glazed tile that once welcomed guests to the hotels:
Left: decorative ceramic tiles in front of the former Collingwood Manor
This is an era of tight municipal, county, and state budgets, so it probably would not even be worth the effort to seek government preservation funds for such dilapidated buildings. Yet it still bothers me that these buildings have been allowed to become demolition-worthy sources of urban blight.
Then there is the issue of the post-demolition empty space that will remain after these buildings are razed. The Old West End is a nationally registered historic district, and future development must meet the rigorous standards associated with erecting new structures in a historic district. My suspicion is that these tracts will simply end up turning into vacant weed-infested land that the city will cut twice a year.
That does not sound much like "progress" to me.