What I’m about to tell you is ridiculous. Yes, I’m about to tell you is that there is currently a building of priceless value about to be destroyed in the name of progress. This building has significant historical value as it was the place where a meaningful meeting occurred on the most important day in history. That building: the Carl’s Jr. fast food restaurant at the corner of 200 South and State Street in downtown Salt Lake City, Utah.
You might be thinking, “Dave, you are insane. What are you talking about!”
What I forgot to mention is that this historic meeting on the most important day in history: was that it was MY most important day in history. Yes, December 16, 2000 was the MOST important day in my life. It was the day I married my beautiful and sweet wife, Ioana. The important meeting: a Groom’s breakfast before the wedding bought by cousin and life long buddy, Danny Soderholm, who served as my best man at the wedding.
So, what’s the big deal? None. I’m actually surprised this restaurant lasted as long as it has. Now, a major developer is proposing what could be the tallest building in Salt Lake City upon completion.
When I found out about this proposed building, I genuinely thought, this will be a great addition to the city. I haven’t eaten at that Carl’s Jr. since that morning nineteen years ago. It has very little sentimental value OTHER than that memory of a breakfast with Danny that morning. It wasn’t important where we were that morning, it was important because I grew up with Danny.
My whole childhood was a long series of good times hanging out and having fun, building tree forts, playing football in the yard, riding bikes places. That breakfast was almost like a turning point where I went from Danny being my best friend to my wife Ioana becoming my best friend.
See, memories, are important to us, and buildings DO play a very important part of that history. Historical preservation of buildings is a valuable societal goal especially for buildings that we share a cultural, political, or societal memory that needs preserving. Take for example the Parthenon in Athens, Greece. The actual edifice is perfectly useless in every way in today’s modern world. So WHY as a global culture do we expend so much money and effort preserving it? It is because it carries with us a long established shared memory so that we can REMEMBER how we got to where we are now.
Why don’t we save ALL buildings? Most buildings aren’t worth the capital to preserve. The average building in the United States of America has a life of 50-100 years and from a financial standpoint that life is 30 years. In the case of that Carl’s Jr., it’s not worth saving as it does not remind ALL of us of shared cultural memories. It does remind me of that special morning 19 years ago. But only me.
Progress is important, and is a conflicting value to Historic Preservation. Both are needed. Sometimes, though, the history to be preserved needs to be through stories, photographs, drawings, blog posts, etc.
As for me, I’m glad I had a chance to go today, this our 19th wedding anniversary and photograph a place that hosted a special moment in my life before it is demolished and will only be available in my memory.
Happy Anniversary, Ioana! I love you!
By, David Clayton