Written by Paige Berschet '18 (Marietta College)
As a Marietta College student and member of the Marietta community, one of the things I love most about Marietta is its historic charm. On the weekends, I love walking around downtown, enjoying the shops, and dining in the local restaurants.
On Thursday, October 13th I was able to learn more about Marietta and its history during the Historic Preservation Series’ first event: “Enjoying Old Marietta.” Jessica Wielitzka, Owner of Hidden Marietta Tour Co., was the first presenter. Jessica started by showing pictures of iconic landmarks in the United States, like the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch, historic homes in San Francisco, and others, followed up with inviting those in the room to ask, “Why can’t this be Marietta?” She showed old pictures of historic buildings in Marietta and then pictures of what they look like today, emphasizing that although the original purpose of the building has since changed, being able to adapt and use it for another purpose helps to maintain our downtown and its historic integrity.
Jessica also discussed what happens when historic buildings are not maintained. They fall into disrepair and are (eventually) torn down. When people visit Marietta, they want to learn the stories of our past and be able to see the beautiful historic buildings that are tied to the tales of our history, not be told of what once stood in a parking lot today.
I would have loved to have witnessed the gothic architectural beauty and history of the Marietta Union Depot on 2nd Street (now the Parking Partners lot), been able to cruise down the Ohio River on the beloved Betty Thatcher, or taken a stroll down an Ohio Street once full of buildings and life. Instead, I am able to only look at pictures and imagine what could still be a part of the historic charm and beauty of Marietta.
Kyle Yoho, Education Director of The Castle, presented a case study of 128 Front Street, an historic downtown building that was for many years a drug store, but now has a new purpose as an antique store. Again, we are reminded that old historic buildings can still be used for a new purpose. Kyle talked about Marietta’s many rankings as one of the best small towns to visit in the United States and how the biggest emphasis for tourists is put on all of Marietta’s wonderful historic offerings. Marietta’s history is truly what makes us special and unique; a revitalized and preserved downtown will not only help to bring in more tourists, it will help to attract more investments, create more jobs, increase property values, and so much more! Marietta is already a community to be proud of, and a revitalized downtown will increase that pride tenfold!
This first event in the historic preservation series helped me to open my eyes and realize that what’s lost is lost forever, but that there are still so many things of value in this community that are worth preserving and saving for generations to come. It’s up to us to save it!