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Always a Gathering Place

Always a Gathering Place

May 27, 2021

On a cold and clear day in late winter 2018, I snapped this photo of the historic house on MCPL’s Woodneath Library Center campus, which will soon become the home of The Story Center:

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The crew of Pishny Restoration Services had just begun working on the adaptive reuse project for the house. On a warm and cloudy day near the end of National Preservation Month 2021, the crew was finishing interior details when I snapped this photograph:

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Later that same afternoon, the granddaughter of the late Naomi Crouch, matriarch of the family from which the Library purchased the house and adjoining acreage in 2008, stopped by the Woodneath Library Center. She was on her way to Oklahoma from Iowa with her husband and son. Five years had passed since they last visited the house, where she had spent a month every summer as a child. As the four of us walked through the house, she recalled times she spent in the house and with her grandmother—of breakfasts for dozens of people, of holidays celebrated with family from near and far.

“This was always a gathering place,” she said. 

I was reminded of one of the 14 reasons that Thompson M. Mayes, in his book Why Old Places Matter: How Historic Places Affect Our Identity and Well-Being, suggests why historic places, such as the Woodneath house, are important: memory. As sites that concentrate individual and collective memories, Mayes explains, “Old places help us to remember,” contributing to a sense of continuity and identity.

And I thought about how the historic Woodneath home is intended to continue being a gathering place when the adaptive reuse project is completed. And where people gather, there are stories.  And when there are stories, there are memories. We look forward to the day soon when this “new old” place can again inspire people to connect, tell stories, and create memories. 

Mark L.

Story Center Director

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