Stepping out of the car at First and Main in Fort Scott, Kansas, carries some notion of time travel; the brick street, old brick buildings and Courtland Hotel’s huge glass windows make it easy to imagine stepping into the morning a century ago.
It is not that I am nostalgic about the beginnings of the Twentieth Century; I have no desire to land in the swirling fevers that followed the Civil War, Bleeding Kansas or the age of excess that preceded WWI and the Great Depression. I do, however, like to see the occasional downtown that does not look like an architectural junkyard. I like to see fine old buildings deliberately cared for, restored and preserved. I like to see such visible appreciation for what has stood some test of time, a notion that even brick and mortar need some attention over the years.
There is something in such awareness that transcends the contemporary, that speaks of things more solid than fad and fancy. These buildings have survived the changes of style and the currents of politics. They have withstood the onslaughts of wind and rain, extremes of flood and drought. Over the decades of thrift and flush, and the ebb and rush of settlers and travelers, tourists and traders, they have held to the shape of the architect’s mind and the builders’ hands.
They are not unlike lives founded on faith and shaped by obedience.