The Holyoke Armory building came crashing down last week after 10 years of abandonment. Holyoke may well be the Massachusetts city best suited to dealing with a future of diminishing energy resources, climate change, and the relocalization of agriculture, but at this moment it is still a decaying, crumbling, “formerly industrial” community. Every year that passes without major revitalization means another year where hundreds of magnificent, historic structures go without maintenance, and therefore get another year closer to the day they come crashing down.
Springfield has taken the opportunity to bring in an enormous urban development in the form of a resort casino. Over a dozen older buildings are being or have been torn down as part of the process, 3 buildings are being preserved entirely, another 2 are having their façades preserved, and the head house of the Springfield Armory is being preserved to act as the centerpiece of MGM’s public plaza. No one knows how succesful this MGM project will be, or for how long. We’ll never know, if the MGM plan had been rejected, what would have become of the historic buildings in its current footprint whether or not they were damaged in the 2010 tornado.
We do know this: The head house of Springfield’s armory building will be restored and, for a few more years at least, get the attention it deserves and the maintenance it requires while Holyoke’s armory is now just a memory.