Trading away beauty for ashes

Published 8:24 pm Tuesday, May 12, 2015

To the editor:

If you stand on the corner of Mahan and Main streets facing Cedar Hill Cemetery here in downtown Suffolk, you can see to your right one of Suffolk’s oldest buildings — somewhat preserved and standing strong.

Just down the road to the left you’d be able to gaze upon the Folly of Mr. Mills Riddick. It is a great four-floor Greek-Revival townhome mansion, now museum. If you turn around from there, you’ll see — an empty lot, now void and bare.

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What is missing?

Though fire- and water-damaged and somewhat unstable, the house that used to stand on that corner was a jewel of history. The lot is laden with history from as far back as the mid 1700s. That history ascended the markers of Suffolk’s timeline, continuing to add to the richness of the city’s vast treasure of antiquity.

What has happened?

Also an integral part of the city’s rich history is First Baptist Church Mahan. Wrapped into the historical account of the corner lot’s owners and the owners of the house is a small narrative concerning First Baptist Church.

However, it was First Baptist that took ownership of the 100-plus year-old historic structure, only later to demolish it and bring to naught the tangible pieces left of that historical chronicle.

What will follow?

Sadly, the piece of history that was crushed and hauled away in crumbled heaps now leaves behind, as I stated, an empty lot. This jewel was ripped from the collets of the people of Suffolk, snatched from the bezel of Mahan and Main streets, and now there is left one less jewel on the shank of the city.

The invaluable ornament will now be replaced with a social hall and a parking lot. This is truly a story of trading beauty for ashes if there ever were one. If this is the extent of the respect shown for history, my only question is this: What is next?

Delano Calvin