OPINION: The Realities of Historic Preservation
Teddy Herzog | 11/12/12

Ha ha... the Daily Post... and Pagosa Springs.  I just can’t quit you.
I read with interest Bill Hudson’s article about 480 Lewis Street.  I have a personal interest in that building.  There’s a file here at my desk, even though I’ve spent the past two years in California.
Once every few months I return to Pagosa Springs, mainly because my daughter still goes to the high school.  She is doing a year abroad in France this year but I will visit you all again over Christmas.
Every time that I visit Pagosa Springs, I fall in love again.  I think about buying an old house and fixing it up.  That’s what I do for a living.  It can be a good way to make money and it’s my passion.  Any questions you have about my expertise about the topic of old house renovation could easily be answered by the photos on my website at www.TeddyHerzogConstruction.com
The last time that I visited, in the springtime, I started looking around for a fixer upper house yet again.  By far, the house that most caught my eye is the one at 480 Lewis Street.  As a professional, I can tell you that the house has good bones.  Sure, it is butt ugly though for a guy like me that is only just a good challenge.  In my mind, I have torn off the old aluminum siding and replaced it with wood siding and trim details and new windows to give it a “turn of the century” (1900s) jewel.  I’ve torn off the roof at the front and either put on a steeper roof or added a roof deck with views of the river.  The inside is modernized with new electrical, plumbing and heating.  I would have had to add insulation as well.
Easy enough for me to talk big. 

But, I never did it.  After all, who the heck is going to buy a mansion from me — across the street from the Bear Creek?  And that really is the rub here, isn’t it?  Any of us can see what downtown Pagosa Springs could be, one day.  Clearly real estate values will be higher, one day, and the downtown will make more than a few real estate investors proud of their choices.  But probably not today.
Once upon a time, I annoyed the mayor by referring to downtown old houses as “shacks”.  But, it wasn’t an insult, just the eye of a professional telling what he saw.  I’ll tell you that 480 Lewis Street is an unusual building in that it does have good bones.  At first look it appears that: the floors are level, the building  square, and the roof is not sagging.  It is not the typical older building of downtown Pagosa Springs.
After I left for California two years ago, I promised myself that I wouldn’t read Bill Hudson and his Daily Post anymore.  Too negative.  To predictable.  Articles almost always written in voice of the “naysayer” that the mayor once called him.  But as you can see, I just can’t help myself.  Still reading the Daily Post to see what is happening around Town.  And, look, here I am writing something one more time.
I recall a conversation that I had with the late Stanley Levine in which he talked about the “POD” people – “people opposed to development” – that you find in every town and against every project.  I kind of have a love/hate relationship with Bill Hudson’s writings for the Daily Post.  Yes, his writing is almost always against something or somebody.  But more often than not, his point of view makes a lot of sense, if you look at it from his perspective.  And for someone like me, if I am willing to read his writing and also in between the lines, the Daily Post is my best source to keep in touch with life in Archuleta County.
Here is another thing about that building at 480 Lewis Street.  Before the recession hit, “green”, sustainable construction was all the rage.  But the most “green” building in town is "the one that is already built".
“Historically significant” means that a building has a great story to tell about the past and that someone thinks it worth the trouble to tell the story.
I personally know many of the people who volunteer for the Town and help determine whether “redeveloping” 480 Lewis Street into a parking lot is a good idea or not.  I am not going to take sides here.  The idea that, in order to take a step forward downtown, another solid building needs to be demolished is cause for sadness.  But easy for me to say.  I didn’t do anything to restore the building at 480 Lewis Street and apparently nobody else is going to either.  But I surely will be sad to see a parking lot there the next time that I come to town.
Really, this is not so much an opinion letter about a house as it is a love letter to y’all. I miss Pagosa Springs. I miss the people, the land and the challenge.  And I feel sadness when I think about the economic and political struggles.  No easy solutions, that’s for sure.  Good luck with all that.
I will be back again for a visit at the end of the year.  No doubt I will fall in love yet again.


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