There Is Some History There

January 27, 2014

Those of us who make an effort to preserve the best historic buildings, structures, and landscapes in the U.S. get a little tired of the naysayers who can’t see value in artifacts from the past. And they get tired of our protests about lack of funding and political support from our lawmakers.

It’s particularly vexing when a politician can’t even acknowledge the value of a building in his home county, and one that nearly everybody reveres because of its association with an icon of the American folk revival. When asked about the prospect of saving Greystone Hospital, the home of Woody Guthrie during the last decade of his life, New Jersey Assemblyman Anthony M. Bucco could only say, “There is some history there,” but “the taxpayers” should not be “saddled with” the cost of preserving the building and maintaining it.

Who but the residents of Morris County, and New Jersey, should take responsibility for buildings that have been compared in significance to Ellis Island as repositories of 20th century history? Only the Federal government, with its National Register program, might have the wherewithal to create a park or historic site at Greystone. Such a prospect is not inconceivable, but not without the support of local residents.

Mr. Bucco not only shows his ignorance of our national heritage, but also a disregard for the intelligence and commitment of his constituents, when he makes lukewarm statements about a historic site that even Governor Chris Christie believes is worth saving.

2 Responses to “There Is Some History There”

  1. Bobby Cousins said

    If you and your preservation pals want to save and restore Greystone – which might cost $340,000,000 – then open your own wallets and pay for it. The taxpayers should not fund your hobby.

    Woody Gutherie spent 5 years at Greystone. 5 years at Brooklyn State Hospital, and a year at Creedmore before he died – so get your facts straight.

    Maybe the most historic aspect of Guthrie’s life was his father Charles, a member of the Oklahoma Ku Klux Klan. Charles Gurthrie was part of a group of 40 men who kidnapped a black woman and her son, Laura and L.D. Nelson, from the county jail in Okemah, Oklahoma and hanged the two from a bridge. Laura was raped before she was hung.

    • Always good to see someone who can set the record straight, but there is no point in splitting hairs about this kind of history. Woody Guthrie’s stay at Greystone is but one of the hundreds of historic events that took place there. I don’t expect people who hate preservation to appreciate these areas of significance. I do expect elected officials to understand something about their districts and constituents.

      As for $340 million and the Ku Klux Klan, this kind of poppycock belongs on Rush Limbaugh, not in the debate about an nationally significant building and landscape. Unless you are a professional preservation architect, or psychiatrist, don’t muddy the waters with information that is either false or irrelevant.

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