Can Holyoke be Saved?
Thank you for posing “Historic Preservation’s Biggest Question: What do we save?” and including a strong article on the loss of a beloved building in Holyoke, Massachusetts [“The Life and Death of the Skinner Coffee House,” May/June 2008]. Yankee Magazine has a long tradition of recognizing the importance of historic preservation to our quality of life — dating back to the days when it sponsored the Yankee Intern Program in the National Trust’s Northeast office. Readers may be interested in our annual announcement of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Places,” [scheduled this year for] May 20. Find out more at: PreservationNation.org
Peter H. Brink, National Trust for Historic Preservation, Washington, D.C.
Having grown up in Holyoke, written a book about Holyoke, and been intimately involved in the fight to stop the city’s recent demolitions, I feel compelled to write a followup. Holyoke was the fire capital of New England in the 1970s, yet there were more municipally sanctioned demolitions in an 18-month window in the 1990s than there were fires in the ’70s and early ’80s. A group called Save Historic Holyoke had a major impact on stopping the demolitions. Sadly, another spate of demolitions is in the works for the near future.
Disinvestment continues as buildings have begun to collapse, in one instance killing a person. The CanalWalk — a project which will be an engine of renaissance — continues to await leadership from the city before it can move forward. More than $10 million in private investment sits on the sidelines, waiting for the path’s construction — 11 years so far. I intend to launch a “Friends of the CanalWalk” group, long overdue.
As for [other projects such as those mentioned in] the sidebar, renovating the Schell Bridge in Northfield, Massachusetts, will incorporate it into a network being developed in three states, featuring up to 200 miles of bikeways and low-volume roads all linked together. One highlight is that four former highway and railroad bridges within a 10-mile stretch along the Connecticut River will be open only to bikes and pedestrians (schellbridge.org).
Craig Della Penna, Northeast Greenway Solutions, Florence, MA
The Power of Art
I read “Still Lifes” in the January/February 2008 issue with great interest. A friend and I decided to drive to Guilford, Connecticut, to visit Brendan Loughlin’s studio and see his paintings along the streets and fences. A local passerby told us that his studio was closed [at the time] and recommended that we look through some of the shops to see his work. As we were admiring the artwork in the Greene Gallery, our conversation veered to our hometown. The proprietor insisted we go back to the restaurant where we’d had lunch to meet Loughlin’s daughter, who was a waitress there. Then she insisted on calling her father to meet us. He was there in five minutes, friendly and charming, and invited us to his apartment/studio to see his work. Obviously we were delighted, slightly embarrassed at all the attention, and wonderfully entertained by Brendan Loughlin. Thank you for printing his story and allowing us to have a day filled with adventure.
Elaine Piselli, South Weymouth, MA
How the article [on Brendan Loughlin] moved me! Brendan and I share similar life events, and now I’m about to move ahead with my own photography show. Brendan proves that one doesn’t need anything but passion and a will to keep one’s dream alive.
Kyle Elizabeth Nolan, St. Charles, MO
For all of us who love our horses from the beginning to their end, the touching portrayal of the reality of our daily lives in “Cold Snap” [January/February 2008] pulled on my heart and soul. LeeLee Goodson so aptly lets readers into the “routine” of caring for our four-legged companions, who give us all they can in return for a home. The Goodson farm is a wonderful example of good family life, ever teaching, going the distance no matter the circumstances, supporting one another in fun and heartache, and respecting life in all its forms.
Ann Power, Reading, MA