Tuesday, August 11, 2009

Goodbye to Whitehall ...

I'm sure nearly all of you recall the series of big downtown fires we had in Montana last spring -- three blazes, each destroying a row of buildings along a city's Main Street. The first was in Bozeman, where an explosion nearly vaporized the old buildings; here, plans for reconstruction are already well underway. The Miles City fire also left a row of buildings very heavily damaged, and the facades were soon leveled for ostensible safety reasons ... the lots are vacant now, seriously impacting a downtown already harmed by years of fire and neglect.

And that leaves Whitehall, a little Jefferson County town that already had relatively little to recommend it. Given its tiny business district, this fire caused a far greater relative impact than the other two ... but it also left the buildings far less damaged, so that if the owners or the town cared enough, they could have been rebuilt. But they apparently didn't, and when I drove by yesterday the last of the cleanup was taking place. And now Whitehall is closer than ever to not having a downtown anymore.

1 comment:

  1. As the Whitehall Chamber of Commerce President, I can assure you that the town and the community did all that it could to save the buildings involved in our April 2009 fire...especially since they were the homes of several of our murals. However, due to the extensive inside damage caused, the buildings could not be salvaged. Whitehall DOES care about the preservation of its historic district and has worked tirelessly to save historic Borden's corner and other venues of historic interest. I am hurt that a passerby felt the need to comment in such a negative light of how Whitehall "apparently didn't" care enough about these buildings.
    Elizabeth Kidwell
    Whitehall Chamber of Commerce, President