Letter to the editor | A lesson from the past

August 27, 2013 

“Caught in a … vise and determined to maintain its credibility, Bellefonte Borough Council voted unanimously — if reluctantly — last night to sanction demolition of the historic Gamble Mill … the tearing down of still another remnant of the Borough’s storied past. … Still, the door was not closed shut in the faces of those citizens — mostly Talleyrand Park Citizens Committee members — who pleaded with Council to save the mill.”

This 1975 newspaper account chronicles the impending demolition of the Gamble Mill, whose owners planned to erect a steel building for selling beer.

Sensing a bit of déjà vu?

That citizens’ group — now known as the Bellefonte Historical and Cultural Association, incorporating Talleyrand Park Citizens Committee — is working to save another historic building from borough-ordered demolition: the Garman Opera House.

The historic Gamble Mill, where a steel building could be today, is now a restaurant drawing patrons from around the county and beyond. And beer sold there now is from its on-site brewery. It was saved because the borough decided to work with its residents, delaying demolition long enough for them to find buyer and restorer Ted Conklin.

The Garman Opera House on courthouse square — the most important block in any historic town — is irreplaceable.

In making its historic decision Monday, may the Bellefonte Industrial Development Authority follow the borough’s 1975 willingness to reconsider and give its residents the opportunity to save a treasure.

And may Garman visitors 38 years from now find it unbelievable that someone ever voted to tear the Garman down.

Melady Kehm, Bellefonte

the Downtown Master Plan.

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