Letter: Save Old Bennington from 'subdivision blight'

To the Editor:

Thank you, Bennington Banner, for bringing to our attention the proposed change in the face of Old Bennington in your article, "Proposed Subdivision Near Battle Monument Concerns Village." I am of the mindset that the headline should have been expanded to "Proposed Subdivision Near Battle Monument Concerns ALL."

One of the chief reasons my wife and I fled the Washington, D.C., suburbs was the systematic "subdivision blight" that laid waste to some of Maryland and Virginia's most important historic areas. We we impressed by this area's historical significance and admired Old Bennington in the manner in which it appeared to have protected its historic heritage. The proposed subdivision of the property at 25 Monument Ave. signifies a bona fide threat to the preservation of Bennington's storied history.

Here's what happened in Maryland and Virginia in the D.C. area: Imagine if you will, a plethora of "George Washington Slept Here" colonial homes throughout the region, overrun by "Five, Four and a Door" (Five windows on the second story, four on the first and a front door), unimaginative residences — all because no one stepped up to protect the historic heritage of the area. A prime example was the temporary Executive Mansion in Brookeville, Md., pressed into service by way of the British burning the Executive Mansion in Washington, D.C., during the War of 1812. This colonial estate in suburban Maryland is now inundated by rows of tract housing that has robbed "The Executive Mansion For One Day" of its entire historic value.

It is high time for Bennington to protect its historic assets that visitors have come to love — that we love, yet sometimes take for granted. As a marketer, I can assure you that the proposed subdivision off of 25 Monument Ave. will spawn zero incremental visits and has a high probability of becoming a jeopardy to current tourism via a drop in visitor traffic. No one in the Megalopolis wants to mount up to see a historic area honeycombed with modern housing.

Moreover, once a precedent is set to allow subdivision blight in Old Bennington, history tells us that the floodgates for more and more subdivision blight will open and once this happens there will be no chance to recover our ruined historic assets.

Two hundred and forty-one years ago, Old Bennington was the epicenter of British want and gain. Heroes came to its defense and those who wanted to do the area economic harm were repelled. I ask that we once again marshal the necessary forces to thwart the invasion of subdivision blight that has targeted one of the historic jewels of New England, namely our very own Old Bennington.

Jeff Grimshaw,



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