Last month, with some melancholy, I reported on the imminent demise of The Main Hotel. Like a neighbor who has been sitting next to a death bed, I can say now that The Main is gone. It is no more. And like the amputee who still feels those missing toes, I will still look over to that empty space and see The Main sitting there as it did for 107 years. Carol Brown at the PG caught notice of my blog and included it in her story about The Main.
I view the destruction of The Main as a collective community failure. Many old buildings, if structurally sound, are renovated and repurposed. Certainly it was feasible to save The Main. But the community will was absent. The community didn’t view it as something to be saved. We have a strong sense of private property in America, and that leads us to believe that people can do with their property whatever they please. Sometimes those private property rights will conflict with the community interests and this is always controversial subject. Certainly this was the case when the UP church on Washington Ave was purchased and converted into a nightclub. Likewise, the purchaser of The Main had the right to renovate the building, sell it, raze it, or do nothing at all with it. And he exercised that right. And now a community landmark is gone.
My concern over the loss of The Main isn’t just foolish sentimentality. Our local leaders (including myself) are marketing our borough to potential businesses and residents all over the county. And a main feature of that marketing effort is emphasizing our “small town” atmosphere and our quaint, old-time feel. In an article about our Thomas Espy Civil War Veterans Post, the Washington Post said of our town, “Its picture-perfect Main Street looks as though it has been lifted from a model railroad”.
We think they are right and we think that people will come to Carnegie for that. However, my point is that last week we lost a building from the model railroad set. What will be next? The old Post Office, maybe? If I’m not mistaken, every building on Main Street is privately owned except for Husler Hall, the home of the Carnegie Historical Society. So, really, what is the future of our model railroad set? I’d be interested in your thoughts.
More pictures can be found here; click