The Paramount: Why bother saving it?

Cultural heritage buildings are in a community’s care. They are inherited from past generations.

Most people have mementos from their family’s past:  an old watch worn by their great grandfather, a photo of their youthful mother, a love letter, a child’s drawing.  These are treasures that are personal and are a connection to the past and a legacy to future generations. You would never consider throwing them away or tearing them up. Someone outside your family might do that.  If you let the next generation of your family know about their significance they can keep them safe.

It’s the same way and even more so with old buildings. Cultural heritage buildings are in a community’s care. They are inherited from past generations who built them well and used them for entertainment and socializing.

If they are significant enough in our collective psyche they are maintained in the present with the idea of bestowing them for the benefit and pleasure of future generations. They have much to tell us about our past, our social customs, the tastes of the period, the unique architecture and in the case of the Paramount, the movies and all the latest technology available at the time to show them.

When you demolish a community’s history you are severing the connection we all need for the past – whether we ever stepped through those doors we can still appreciate that link to past lives. We savour the sense that people walked this street, loved this house, enjoyed this theatre. By throwing away this building and the historical artifacts that lie within you are saying that nothing of this building’s cultural heritage is important or significant to the community’s history. Instead a sign can say, “Here once stood…”

No one ever says, I used to have my grandfather’s watch but I threw it away because it didn’t work. I tore up my mother’s photo because it took up room on my desk. I needed more space on the wall for another picture so I got rid of my two-year old’s scribble. Deeper connections require careful actions.

That is why you bother saving The Paramount.

 

Christine Camilleri,

Chilliwack