Following the flood in 2008, and two fires this past year at the old Farmstead / Sinclair meatpacking plant, Cedar Rapids is moving forward with demolition plans. After the most recent fire in December, it was announced that the smokestack would have to be demolished due to structural instability. But last week the City Council decided to hold off for the moment in response to a plea from the Historic Preservation Commission to study stabilizing and restoring it first.

Details aside (not really the point of this point), I got to thinking after browsing through the Gazette online reader comments. Some people feel it is an important part of Cedar Rapids history and needs to be preserved while others simply see it as a waste of time and money.

I’ve been in Rome for nearly a month now, living and going to school in buildings that are 400-500 years old, surrounded by other buildings and structures well over a thousand years old. Over the centuries, most buildings in Rome – many that were once very significant – have not survived. They’ve either been abandoned and looted for building materials, or modified for different uses. Only more recently (last century) has there been such a strong preservation push for buildings and sites of antiquity. So being here really puts into perspective what old actually is, not to mention historical.

Personally I would like to see the smokestack saved – I agree it is an important part of our city history, as well as a neat landmark. The difference in “scale” and “significance” from Cedar Rapids’ history and that of Rome is interesting to consider once experiencing both.

Photo credit: Jim Slosiarek / The Gazette