Another small group wishing to encourage St. John’s Episcopal Church to stop plans to demolish two 1920’s homes gathered in front of the church on Sunday morning. The message continued to be the same: It hurts your neighborhood and neighbors when you destroy our remaining older buildings.
Just as was the case the previous week, some people entering the church indicated support, others registered apparent disgust and most avoided eye contact. One person reportedly attempted to start an argument with the group, but left after being largely ignored. Another person approached the group during the protest and invited them into the church while offering them programs. Her manner seemed rather more rude than warm which didn’t make the group feel inclined to join the service.
Some things were different this time out. The church offered a neighborly gesture by providing coffee and water to the group. They also had an officer present should he be needed to restrain the unwashed masses. Also, WVLT filmed some of the goings-on and interviewed a couple of the people gathered there, so was some coverage on television and all who were interviewed did a good job.
The gestures of neighborliness were appreciated. I understand one person plans to write a thank-you note. Still, I wonder if the leaders of the church understand that, while water and coffee are nice, the church’s neighbors will judge their true feelings about the downtown community by their actions with these buildings. While past destruction of the city’s structures by churches may be seen as part of a different era and so judged less harshly, attitudes and times have changed.
So, we’re left with buildings still at risk. Nothing from the church has indicated a willingness to reconsider. I’ve heard no word from Knox Heritage as to whether they plan to appeal to the full city council. If not, or if they appeal unsuccessfully, the buildings could well be gone before the end of July.
Notes: The petition to save the buildings is still growing, at over 440 online and more collected on Market Square this past Saturday. If you would like to help gather signatures this coming Saturday, please contact me and I’ll connect you to the right people. We need people to pass the link along to any groups to which you are attached, such as neighborhood groups and others. If you haven’t signed, here’s the link: http://www.change.org/petitions/st-john-s-cathedral-stop-the-destruction-of-710-and-712-walnut-street
Finally, a big thanks to Daniel Taylor for the excellent photographs used in this blog post. You can see more of his wonderful work here: http://www.dansfauxtoes.com/