Port Huron’s “Report to the People, 1964-65”

We’re not advocating ancestor worship here at PHAHPA, but the report below–scanned to images so you can click on them to see large-scale–seems to be advocating the opposite.  While Port Huron has lost many buildings to fires, it has lost a great many to redevelopment and blight removal.  This 54-year-old report shows the attitude of the times, that the sturdy and artful buildings of downtown were “antiquated” and therefore ready for demolition.  It is proud of the demolitions and of the building owners who otherwise covered up their old buildings’ “rustic” facades.  When do you see buildings like that being made today, with actual brick, hardwoods, marble, etc.?

It also was proud of clearing the first ward area, which not only had small homes as shown in the report, but examples of older and smaller business buildings.  The municipal buildings now standing in that area seem antiquated themselves, and indeed, the library is planning on erecting a new structure (but where?).  Lastly, north Military Street would be pretty much cleared of the buildings that the people who built the city in the first place had erected, if the city had followed-through with its plans.  It would have received lots of federal dollars for doing so.

In any case, what buildings people like can be pretty subjective, and it depends on comparisons of what’s available.  But if I imagine whether I’d rather live in a rehabilitated decent home or business block from the past–or the present library–there is just no question at all.  And looking at what styles people choose for their homes, it’s clear that people like “relatable” environments to live and move around in.  That is, “human scale,” with textured designs and materials that are (or at least seem) natural; you don’t see many homes that look like the library or the sad historic commercial buildings covered by flat, boring facades.

No one goes to the ocean expecting or wanting to see a flat or monotone surface, and no one visits Michigan for its fall colors expecting or wanting to see trees all the same size and all the same color (although, to be sure, trees are almost always nice).

We hope you find the reproduced report useful.  Click on the images to open large readable views.

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