Restoring, rehabilitating, renovating, oh my! One’s head is spinning at all the possible ways in which you could upgrade your environment in a thoughtful way. Looking forward while looking back to the past for inspiration could be your guide. If you do want to participate in fixing up your favorite place and be a great steward of history, it so happens that May is National Preservation Month. This could be the very time to pause and take notice of the places you love. Could you help be an advocate for preserving history?

While the European colonization started in 1492 in the United States, our country’s history started long before that. Take the Jeffers Petroglyphs near Comfrey, Minnesota, for example. Native Americans were carving images in stone about 8,000 years ago for Pete’s sake. We have a more complicated and longer history than we’ve been willing to contemplate. So, open up your mind when you think of preservation, it encompasses so much more than buildings. It also includes landmarks with significant importance that could give a new/old twist to any ideas you might want to entertain.

Here in Waseca we’re very lucky to have wonderful buildings that showcase our growth over time. Take the Waseca County Courthouse, or our “Historic Downtown,” or think of some of our homes like the Ward House on east Elm Ave, or even consider rustic buildings like those in Maplewood Park. These places remind us of bygone days and give our city character. Without these structures, or places currently being restored, we would be missing out on the history that has made our community what it is.

There are many ways to become involved in preservation. Joining the Waseca County Historical Society is a wonderful way to become more sensitive to the history of the place in which you live. If you are a business owner in Waseca you could consider looking into the historical rehabilitation of your building. Or you could attend our Historic Preservation Commission meetings in the City Council chambers!

My dad was a history teacher. On a road trip, he never failed to brake for historical markers. Stop and take a look at what that plaque tells you, you will probably learn something new. My mantra is to ‘take the road less traveled’ as talked about by Robert Frost in his poem “The Road not Taken,” and that indeed has made all the difference. (I got that tip from my dad, too.)

We have more articles coming up. Especially watch for information about the historic walking tour.

Katie Youngberg is the president of the Waseca Heritage Preservation Commission.

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