CORRESPONDENCErnLetter From Bataviarnby Bill KauffrnanrnA Well-Preserved WomanrnMv wife is president of our count’srnlandmark society, and though my inabilityrnto tell a cornice from a frieze rendersrnme a hapless consort in matters architecturalrn—more Denis Thatcher thanrnHillary Clinton—I am nonethelessrnproud of her. For preservation seems tornme far less an aesthetic ruffle than anrnemotional and spiritual necessit’.rn”Preservation” suggests to some arnband of fastidious dowagers tidving uprnthe houses of long-dead great men, polishingrnthe silver and keeping off-limitsrnthe maid’s chambers and slave quarters.rnThis is part of it, and a worthwhile part,rntoo: among our family’s more embarrassingrnperversions is visiting the homes ofrnthe Presidents—I highly recommend thernWarren G. Harding home in Marion,rnOhio, abode of the best chief executivernof this century. On the other hand, preservingrnthe castles of the robber barons,rnor the dens of iniquity that domiciledrnthe liars and mass murderers who havernplayed so prominent a role in public lifernover the last 50 years, is a waste of effort.rnPreserving the bovhood home of, say,rnRobert McNamara, makes no morernsense than memorializing the playgroundsrnof the youthful Jeffre’ Dahmer.rnPreservation in a small community isrnsomething much different. Our landmarkrnsociety rightly honors the couplernthat restored the grand manse of thernbleak turn-of-the-century industrialistrnwho killed the man he found in bed withrnhis wife—and was acquitted in the blinkrnof an eye, in the 1884 version of the O.J.rnSimpson trial. (Saith the Neu’ York Timesrnafter the acquittal: “Rowell now goes freernon a verdict which is so singularly ridiculousrnthat the whole affair is calculated tornplace American justice in anything but arnpleasing light.” Plus ga change and allrnthat.)rnBut our society also honors, throughrnvideo presentations and awards and arnmagnificent book, the less grand butrnmore inspiriting homes and churchesrnand shops within which life has beenrnlived, and the daily made sacred, for tworncenturies. My wife and the rest of thernlandmark society (of which I am a sluggishrndirector) know that the story of arntown cannot be understood by a quickrnvisit to the mansion on the hill.rnWhen I walk the streets of my hometownrnof Batavia, New Vbrk, ever buildingrncarries with it a fund of meaning andrnmemory that can never be duplicated orrnreplaced. There is the corner store inrnwhich I bought the Buffalo and Bataviarnpapers for my grandfather every afternoon;rnhere is the house in which I usedrnto drink beer and play cards with myrnfriends till the wee hours; there is thernbleacher in which I sat with my parentsrnand brother cheering our professionalrnbaseball team; this is the church in whichrnwe made our first communion.rnBut what happens when these buildingsrnare gone? The memories remain,rnbut the corporeal e’idence of a life livedrndisappears, and we become as ghosts,rnstrangers flitting through a strange land.rnMany of us leave, because our anchoragernis no longer visible. When the signpostsrnof our lives vanish, it does not makernmuch difference where we live. Onernplace is the same as tfie next—not hostilernto our residence, but merely indifferent.rnWhen I was a boy, the men who ranrnmy citv begged the federal governmentrnfor urban renewal money, which theyrnthen used to knock down her core. In arnvery real sense the’ killed my city, and forrnyears I despised them. But I have comernto see that they were neither venal norrnstupid: they had simpH bought into thernlie that Progress—by which her publicistsrnmean the destruction of the past—rnis inevitable, and that those who resistrn”change” (which is seldom natural butrnalmost always the result of interventionrnbv governments or unaccountable corporations)rnare must” relics, doomed tornextinction or, een worse, irrelevance.rnTo raze an edifice made venerable byrntime and life is as grave an act of desecrationrnas toppling a tombstone. Nitwitrnteenagers, fired by booze, occasionallyrnrun riot through the Old Batavia Cemetery,rnkicking over markers as thoughtlesslyrnas a mower scalps grass. They are, inrneffect, spitting on our forbears, butrnhaven’t they had the best teachers: us?rnWe removed the capstones, we kickedrnout the fundament, we erased the signsrnand markers that our ancestors had sorncarefully constructed for their heedlessrnposterity. Wasn’t urban renewal—orrn”slum clearance,” as it was known inrnsome cities, the racist implication beingrnthat the blacks and Italians would bernswept away on a broom of federal dollarsrn—merely the grown-ups going onrntheir own headstone-toppling rampage,rnin broad daylight no less?rnIf you believe, as I do, that the deadrnare with us always, then preservation isrnthe joyful duty commanded by love andrnpiety. It enriches us as it honors our ancestors.rnA building carries within thernghosts of all who have walked its floorsrnand run its stairs. Someday we, too, willrnbe footfalls, grateful to those who preservernour old haunts.rnBill Kauffrnan is the author, most recently,rnof America First! This piece will alsornappear in The Family in America,rnpublished by The Rockford Institute.rnForeignrnCorrespondencesrnbvWnham MillsrnBulgarian Autumn, Part IIrnFor travelers drawn to the cradles of civilization,rnBulgaria offers a good alternativernto the crowds of Greece. One canrnrevel in the Greek and Roman occupationsrnthat followed the Thracians. Moreover,rnwhile civilization was having arnrough go later on in the western Romanrnempire, matters were quite different inrnthe eastern Roman Empire, or what wernnow call the Byzantine Empire, and examplesrnof Byzantine art and architecturernare abundant in Bulgaria. Eariy, Middle,rnand Late Byzantine churches can all bernfound in the coastal town of Nesebarrn(Mesambria). The Old Metropolitanrn40/CHRONlCLESrnrnrn