I continue to read letters/comments in regard to the planned demise of PBL Eastlawn School, the former Paxton-Buckley-Loda Junior High School and former Paxton Community High School building.
It is amazingly unbelievable at some of the misinformed comments I have read. This issue encompasses both support of the well-played irrational decision to demolish and a good handful of forward-thinking visionaries in absolute agreement to preserve this majestic structure, or to at least ask for reasonable time to proceed seeking another purposeful option.
I would suggest and respectfully ask for the PBL school board to please consider an appropriate amount of time to actually see what other feasible options can bloom for Eastlawn — and the community.
I know, you have kept that “back door” open (thank you). Now, it is time for the later group of people to take action beyond more words. Form a commission, enlist outside professionals, petition, fundraise, etc.
At this point, I really don’t know why Eastlawn was abandoned to begin with. I hear that it is “too old,” not “pretty enough,” needs repairs/updates, etc. By the best of recollection, the most important part of education is the education itself, not how “pretty” or “new” my homeroom is.
This building has served well the community of Paxton, without flaw or incident, for 100-plus years. Do you really think a newer building (and all the money to build it) will outlast that timeline? Of course not. The quality and pride in “modern” building technology compared with generations ago is not even close, let alone lasting. And, of course, regardless of what you are always led to believe in such cases, the cost of demolishing and rebuilding surmounts the costs of fixing/updating almost every time. Has anyone actually crunched the figures, or are people just content to allow writing a blank check with the taxpayers’ money in hopes it will work out for the best? Think again when each of you hear: “It will not cost you anything.” Now, how many times have you heard that one?
Over the decades, Paxton has lost many — too many — architectural/historical treasures: the Cruzen mansion, Remembrance Clark’s home, the Knights Templar mansion, the Coliseum (a.k.a. Jim Link’s), the Middlecoff Hotel, the original Eastlawn School, the Majestic Theatre, our beloved Paxton Community Hospital, our beautiful bridges, the Ford County nursing home, Augustana College, the ICG Depot, and the unique Phillips 66 station.
I just hope we will not be in another fight for our courthouse (county seat) with Gibson City. With this “I don’t care” trend, perhaps this time we could lose it. Other institutions we have lost — or which have been diminished — include the Chautauqua, our used-to-be-most-anticipated Paxton Community Sale downtown, the community swimming pool, West Lawn School, etc.
It is sad how much of my hometown has disappeared. Each loss is just another piece of Paxton dying/being killed, wiped off the map of our landscape and minds, never to be anything like it again. Unfortunately, we hear we live in a throw-away society. Perhaps so. But, please, let’s not become (or continue to be) a throw-away community, throwing away our history, heritage, unique architecture, identity, memories and pride.
With the fabulous, untiring work and vision of the likes of Mr. Royce Baier and Mrs. Judy Jepsen-Popel, Paxton has made some great historical, common-sense strides in preservation. But these fine people and their efforts cannot continue to be successful by themselves. Where are Paxton’s visionaries, forward-thinkers, historians and, yes, Paxton’s patriots?
If the current trend of thinking continues, we will some day all ask simply: “Where is Paxton?”