Scott Tibbs
blog post
May 25th, 2005

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Historic designation?

Tonight, the City Council will vote on whether three houses on College Avenue will be designated as "historic" and protected from demolition. The three large houses, split into rental units, sit across from the Justice Building. The previous owner of the property sold them last November. He opposed designating them as "historic". The current owner told the Herald-Times that he does not plan to tear the buildings down.

I honestly do not see why these three houses are "historic". Did someone of importance live there? Did a major historical event happen there? I do not believe that the architechure itself is a terribly strong argument for government-mandated preservation. As you can see, the houses themselves are far from remarkable.v

As much as we talk about a balance between private property rights and government regulations, it is (in my opinion anyway) clear that Bloomington has gone too far in the direction of "historical preservation". Take a look at the city's list of historical properties. Are all of these buildings truly historic?

I'm not a property-rights absolutist when it comes to historical preservation. There are buildings, landmarks and other things (such as battlefields of the War Between the States) that should be preserved for future generations. However, there is also the issue of that pesky Fifth Amendment, which proihibits property from being taken for public use without just compensation. If the City is going to prohibit a property owner from tearing down a building because it is of "historical benefit" to the community, the only honorable thing to do is to compensate the owner of that property.