In Defense of Tradition

In a day and age where the next best thing is the rage, and the old gadget or gizmo is thrown out without the slightest care, it is easy to disregard the old and the great. As a history buff and lover of all things antiquated, I recently felt that this new attitude has impacted the great architecture that we have in our school. We have the unique and great honor of being surrounded by possibly one of the most beautiful campuses in the northeast. Our perfectly manicured great lawn and our stoic bell tower not only inspire visitors but also remind us of the gift we have given to be here. The reason why I consider them beautiful is because they are architectural anomalies in an age where steel skyscrapers and concrete jungles are the norm. Too often I walk down in such cities as Boston, New York, or Philadelphia and not be able to tell the difference between them. Andover’s old buildings are distinctly “New Englandly.” One of the main reasons I actually accepted my Big Blue invitation was because of the gorgeous architecture we have here on campus. My main concern, however, is that we are letting these pristine and gorgeous testaments to our institution decay. These buildings are a beneficial addition to our campus, providing beauty and awe to both students and faculty. Therefore, we must strive to preserve Andover’s architecture so that it can be restored in the future and so that we, students, can, for many years to come, appreciate their beauty in our day-to-day lives. Therefore, they must remain not only in order to be restored but also students must be in contact with them in their daily lives.

As of late, the school has been building new facilities with a rather “modern” spin. Some of these new additions, I think, fit rather nicely. It makes sense after all to have a science building in the newest style, or perhaps a new sports facility with a more open air feel. However, with the announcement that the music building will also be built in this new, sleek futuristic style, I began to grow worried. What will happen to our beloved Graves? For all of its faults and acoustic shortfalls, it has been here standing for more than a century. What role shall this quaint, tired building serve now? As an administrative building? That is an insult to its original purpose.
A similar argument, in my eyes, can be made with Borden. With the arrival of the Pan Center, the gym in which thousands of hopeful athletes have trained and tried their luck will be used less and less. These buildings, day by day, are becoming less and less part of the everyday lives of students. Inanimate structures do not matter by themselves. Without the people that inhabit it, these buildings become empty. Who is going to care about a place they have no memories in? Without any formal academic use, the students will forget about these structures’ importance and let them decay. My fear is that one day, someone will look at these old buildings, these historical landmarks, and decide to tear them down.

Most worryingly, I feel that the part of campus that is in the most danger is Abbot. Situated on the frontiers of our campus, anyone who walks by it can easily make out the love and care the architects and countless students have felt for this great quad. The way in which each of those fabulous and ornate buildings are ordered, by the choice of brick are great examples of the passion our forebears had for our institutions.

Unfortunately, it has now, as of late, grown difficult to ignore the paint chipping, nor the uneven warping of wood.
What I am advocating for is not to tear down these historic buildings, or turn them into something that is unrecognizable, but rather restore them and use them in the everyday activities on campus, so that future students like us can admire their history and beauty. The recent Alumni Award of Distinction winner, Elaine B. Finbury inspired me deeply. As she correctly recognized, what makes us different from any other school in the country is our name and our age. There is no Andover, no Abbot, without the brick and stone buildings, the banging clock tower, and the canopies of ancient trees. Don’t get me wrong, modern architecture is gorgeous in its own right, but is there the need for it here? If we were to give up repairing these monuments of our history, of our tradition, we will forget who we are.

Man at times, must leave the feelings and worries of the moment, and take in the beauty around them. Sure, Graves’ might feel cramped, and Bulfinch perhaps too hot, but it is home. It would be a grand shame if we were to tear it down.