June 22nd, 2024

Building preservation important for city’s future


By Dale Woodard - Lethbridge Herald on March 2, 2022.

There are many reasons for preserving Lethbridge’s historical buildings.
On Saturday afternoon at the Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Belinda Crowson, president of the Lethbridge Historical Society, discussed a few of those reasons with a group of fellow-interested historians.
Fittingly, the hour-long talk also took place in the SAAG building which turned 100-years-old this year.
“So tying in with the centennial of this building, they asked me to do a presentation on what has been done, what is being done and what needs to be done to save Lethbridge’s historic buildings,” said Crowson. “So I talked a bit about some of the buildings we’ve lost back before we really got going on this and some of the processes, how we do historic inventories and surveys and statements of significance. So all of that really hard work behind the scenes that the public never sees which goes into saving historic buildings and how the public can help.
“Groups like this who are already interested in arts and culture are an easy group to speak with because they have some understanding of the work that goes on.” 
Crowson said she doesn’t think people often realize why historic buildings are saved.
“Not only is it the cultural and social part, it’s how it sets up our communities and our streets. But there is an environmental reason.”
The best LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) still isn’t as environmentally friendly as a building that already exists, said Crowson.
“So if you really care about the environment, saving historic buildings is an environmentally smart way of going about it.”
It’s also very economical, added Crowson.
“What we know is if you’re creating a new business, especially a small business, old buildings can support that. Which is why you see so many restaurants in historic buildings and places like that. We also know if you’re going to renovate a building it takes more tradespeople. So it’s actually good for the labour force. So, for various reasons, environmentally and economically and for the character of our community, saving historic buildings matters.”
Crowson said people often have a misconception that we’ve lost all of our historic buildings.
“But there are still about 3,000 in Lethbridge. When you look at houses and you look at other buildings in Lethbridge, we have an amazing stock of historic buildings.”
Crowson noted doing a better job of making people understand what makes a historical building and how they can preserve it. 
“They think of the grand, designated buildings, but we need better stories of some of the coal mining shacks and better stories of some of the smaller homes. That’s where a lot of the work has to come from, doing a lot of that digging into houses that maybe aren’t as well known.”
A few years ago, the Lethbridge Historical Society put together a package for their volunteers on how to research buildings, something they’ve also shared with the public.
“So if you want to do research on your own property, we can give you that and support you,” said Crowson. “So we’re trying to make people as much a part of the process as they want to be. They can always reach out to the Historical Society, but they too can become those researchers.”
The Lethbridge Historical Society can be reached on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/LethbridgeHistoricalSociety.
Those with questions can also email at lethbridgehistory.org.

Follow @DWoodardHerald on Twitter

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