Reader: To Those Concerned With the Loss of Historic Heritage

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“The Beginner’s Guide to Dead Zones” [May 19, 2010] was really quite moving to those of us who are concerned with the loss of historic and architectural heritage from our area.

Though interested in all of the subjects on your list, of particular concern and sadness to me is the Warner and Swasey Observatory. I direct the tiny Stephens Memorial Observatory at Hiram College and can only wish the college had such a grand facility. Our circa 1901 telescope was manufactured at Warner and Swasey’s telescope factory in Cleveland and is a virtual twin to the instrument they owned and had installed in their backyard observatory. Fortunately, their telescope was spared, as were subsequent and larger instruments once operating in the region’s foremost astronomical center.

In Cincinnati, neighbors who feared that their historic observatory was about to meet the wrecking ball banded together to save and restore their moldering treasure. The Cincinnati Observatory Center is now one of the finest institutions of its type in the nation for historic preservation, public outreach, and astronomy education. If only the will existed here to bring such a turnabout.

James Guilford, Director
Stephens Memorial Observatory
Hiram College

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