Radiogurl a la Carte

Tuesday, Jul. 19, 2005
Detour to a Legacy

Sometimes landmarks are historical dots on the map. Sometimes they're moments in your life. In this case, it was both, and while its indelible mark will remain in my memory, the physical landmark has been destroyed.

Not long after I started this diary - I don't recall the specific entry, sorry - I posted a photo of a historic building in downtown Globe, an image I wanted to render as an oil painting. That original photo sits to the left of this paragraph. The charming old building housed a coffee shop, an art shop, and several apartments. News reports said it was built circa 1910, but I remember: the cornerstone was marked 1904. I lived there for a while, residing in the only apartment on the fourth floor. In fact, it was probably my favorite of all the places I ever lived. There was an ambience there unmatched by any other place I've called home.

The structure was originally the Pioneer Hotel and even when it underwent name changes (several times) it was known as the old Pioneer Hotel. It was next door to the city's only walk-in theater. The drive-in theater operates at the north end of town but has atrocious sound and pictures. The downtown theater was the destination of teenagers on dates, of families taking their children to the matinees on the weekend, and all of the other normal niches filled by the movies.

My apartment had hand-carved doors, marble floors in the kitchen and bathroom; an old claw-foot bathtub of generous proportions; hardwood floors in the living and dining room (yes, there was a separate dining room in the one-bedroom apartment;) twelve-foot ceilings; ceiling fans; and hand-carved double doors leading to my private balcony. It was spacious, and I had an unmatched view through any of several windows, not to mention the balcony.

This is a photo from the weekend and the silhouette to the left is the skeleton of the old Pioneer Hotel. The one-story structure (center) is the movie theater. Both are, needless to say, a total loss.

The preliminary report attributes the blaze to an electrical problem in the four-story hotel. I wouldn't doubt it. When I lived there, the place was undergoing renovations, but there was a need for much more than was done at the time, and renovating a structure of that age, size and construction isn't a cheap undertaking. The estimates for all repairs was about $1 million - for a building that the owners purchased for $40,000.

The owners applied for a heritage grant to help defray the costs of the most urgent repairs - not the least of which was a new roof. For whatever reason, they didn't get the award. Maybe they couldn't generate the balance of matching funds. Maybe they didn't dot their i's and cross their t's. Maybe the federal government didn't consider the structure to be significant enough in the nation's history. In fact, I had to move out because my apartment was declared unsafe. In retrospect, it probably was... It was built on safety rules of the early 1900's, which weren't up to speed with the rules in the mid-1990's (when I lived there.)

Whatever the cause, it's no longer relevant. What's left of the structure will be undoubtedly be demolished. The safety conditions will require it. There isn't enough left to salvage.

I'm sure that the theater will rebuild, probably carrying out previous, once-abandoned plans to expand to a multiplex cinema at a different and more centralized location. But another chip has been gouged from history, another touch of heritage fallen like a once-great warrior. It was just a blip on the map, after all...

Before - After

In the grander scheme of things, no soul can truly be replaced. Each one of us has a place in the universal tapestry. We each contribute our own color and texture. When one thread is snipped too soon, it distorts all the threads around it. Other lives can unravel and tear. If the wrong thread is ripped away, the whole fabric of life becomes dangerously fragile.
- LeiLani, aka Radiogurl aka Bright Opal (1957 - )