Sometimes I find gems buried in the piles of papers on my desk. This is from the Winter 2008-2009, HARBnews, published by the Historic Architectural Board of Review of the City of Lancaster.
The speech was given on December 22, 1905 at the opening of the Stevens High School (corner of North Charlotte and West Chestnut – now converted into apartments – adaptive reuse). The project was being criticised for running $91,000 over budget and this was in response to the critics. The discussion of quality materials, true craftsmanship, and sustainability are all issues we regularly deal with – it just goes to show the more things change the more they stay the same.
“With the scientific and commercial development of our people comes the ever increasing necessity for better and larger high school buildings that shall adequately meet in all their parts the necessities of these schools; and they should, like all other important civic buildings, be erected in the most thorough, substantial manner, fundamentally sound in all their parts, with the polish of fine workmanship, to the end that they may not only exert an elevating and refining influence upon the scholars within their walls, but also represent the intelligent, liberal, and progressive spirit of the community.
The modern high school is, therefore more complex in form and more elaborate in appointments than like buildings of some years ago, and necessarily more expensive in its cost. In the construction of this building we have employed the best of what we deemed reasonably necessary to fully meet not only the demands of today, but of many years of the future.
We have not attempted to build with cheap materials and poor workmanship, but rather to build strong and substantial with the best material and workmanship, and at the lowest possible cost. Solid and enduring work is the basis of true economy, and time will prove the wisdom of building well.
I also desire to refer to the great fidelity and honesty of purpose with which the builder performed the work he assumed in the erection and completion of this building. The thought uppermost in his mind seems ever to have been, not how he might realize the greatest profit from this undertaking, but how the greatest strength, durability and beauty of finish might be secured.”
– C. Emlem Urban