Maybe we should thank you for taking the facade first.
No beating around the bush or pretending. Tear it off quick, like a Band-Aid. Expose your intent and own it. Hand it over to outside developers who have the money to reduce our history to rubble. Or, enable wealthy businesspeople to hold the keys for years until the handcrafted doors and the well-made walls buckle and gasp under the fists of neglect. Then pull the plug: “It can’t be saved; it was too far gone.” Shrug.
When you try to raze it fast, you realize how strong it was beneath the peeling paint and the cracked plaster. These old, once-beloved buildings are hard to kill, so their mangled and butchered skeletons are a bit traumatizing to see. Let this be a lesson.
Louisville, with all its Southern charm and heart of compassion will prevail. We will get dressed up for Derby and extol our virtues to visitors. Our local pride will eclipse the daily stress we endure to make this city the best it can be. Our love for our home can’t be concealed.
Be assured that, while we smile and shake your hand, friend, we will be challenging you to fix this. We will be on our best behavior as the world descends on our city in the coming weeks. But those of us who live here—those who have spent their lives creating this city and loving this city and championing this city and investing what little we have in this city—we will ask you in the quieter moments: How will you do it differently next time? With whom will you collaborate? Which local voices will you bring to the table that you’ve avoided in the past? What difficult decisions will you make that prove outside interests won’t take precedence over Louisville citizens and our shared history?
We will wait for this dust to settle. We will be ready to work when (not if) you call us together to problem solve.
My friend was visiting me this weekend. He had never been to Louisville before. He was fascinated by all the building facades around town and asked, “At least they kept those, right?”
But it’s the structure behind the face that counts.
Louisville deserves better. Prove that you agree. Your actions speak louder than your words.
Bless your heart—you made a mistake. Now let’s fix it.