A Sea of Humanity Protest At Gates of La Ronda: Any Decision Makers Watching?
It was a sea of humanity and media at La Ronda this afternoon. They came literally from all over to pay homage to Addison Mizner's La Ronda. But in the end, will it matter?
Clients Mr. and Mrs. X who have Joe Kuhls as a lawyer, were you watching? Do you care? Arthur Kania, Salvage King, were you watching? Do you care? Mr. Kania are you really building a house in either Boca or Jupiter FL that will embrace the architectural flavor of La Ronda? If you love the style so much, why are you being so difficult? So will some of the salvage you rape from the carcass of La Ronda be integrated into your new McMansion? Why not do the right thing Mr. and Mrs. X and Mr. Kania? Are you all so souless? Why give money to charity like you all do? Is that about the tax write off and the name recognition or is it about the charities you support?
Why is it so hard for these people with obviously more money then sense to do the right thing?
Among the people there today was Suzy Atterbury. Her dad was one of the owners of La Ronda. Art Gallagher. She came to see La Ronda, and on this day, it was hard. Her father loved La Ronda and her family has many memories of Christmases past, yule logs in the giant fireplaces.
Benjamin Wohl flew up again. He spoke to a crowd of at least 100 people (if not more). He was spirited and passionate and pointed in his remarks. Benjamin Wohl is exactly the type of person the Main Line and Lower Merion need desperately. He is a man with vision and soul. You can see the passion in his face. I think it has been an honor to be in his presence as you meet few people anymore who are so decent. He owns a Mizner home - another Mizner home that needed to be rescued. Ben did that. There aren't enough Bens. He asked people to pray for La Ronda, and he's right, because La Ronda is on life support and they are about to pull the plug. The crime is they don't have to.
Oh yes, we currently have historic preservation tools, but the debate rages on when contemplating the tools. Are the tools ineffective or are many of those who interpret or use the tools ineffectual? Or both?
Am I angry. Yes, I am darn angry. Because tomorrow is September 1st and we are quite possibly losing yet more of our historical and cultural identity as an area. TOO MANY of the great houses and structures are gone. Too many of the equally important, yet more humble structures are gone. Take 520 Old Lancaster Road for example. Did wannabe developer Tom Hall really have to take that house down days after Chrsitmas? I still believe, as do many others that the answer to that is "no". Yet as property owner, that was his "right". What is the site now? Well I can tell you, a fragment of a driveway that dead ends into a weedy lot. There is no grand development.
La Ronda is the ultimate heart breaker and once again raises the conversation government like to avoid: when does what is right and in the public good matter? When does historic preservation matter? When do the property rights of those who live surrounding an area targeted by an unwelcome demolition matter?
When does what we actually want in our communities matter? You know what else I learned today? That when Villanova University was divesting itself of La Ronda, that was one of the many times Lower Merion Township would have had the opportunity to act and save and acquire La Ronda. But it didn't.
So folks, next time a development plan comes up that quite bluntly you think sucks and Lower Merion Township says "oh we wish we could do more" remember La Ronda. And remind them.
Has the township now, today tried to save La Ronda? Yes. But this should never have gotten this far.
And when you go to a cocktail party or a non-profit fundaraiser and see Mr. and Mrs. X who bough La Ronda, or the Kanias, remind them of La Ronda if she comes down. Remind them of what they could have done if in the end they let La Ronda be executed. I would even say if those people support a non-profit or charity and I see their names on a committee list or invitation, well from now on I will think twice. I will really think twice. Because La Ronda is the ultimate case of charity begins at home, and these people? They have had the chance to do the right thing, only they seem to have chosen not to. It might be their right to choose as they please, but it's my right to say they are WRONG.
These people aren't part of our community if they do this (they just live around here and there IS a difference), and can it just be said in this case, they can't buy their way in either?
If they change their minds and work with Benjamin Wohl I will get right back up here and say thank you for finally doing the right thing. But until then, I will say I have grown to despise them. I didn't at first because I was trying to see all sides of the issue and to respect the property rights involved. But to have a lot of money and not do something really spectacular for a community you have called home? I just don't get it.
Photos are loading now. I shot way more than I needed, but I figured I wanted to record it. It's my way of saying This place matters. Because it does. La Ronda matters.