Here’s how it went down today in Fall River on the public auction of the former Central Congregational Church.
It’s like this: Raped, pilfered and left bleeding, a warden tosses $250,000 at her naked, scared body as if to say: ‘Here, put this on and come with me.’ And so she goes. Who would have thought all her past beauty and home town history could be bought off so cheaply?
Built in 1875, this Gothic Glamour Girl once before fell on hard financial times. But it was her own membership – composed of the shakers and makers of Fall River, that led the charge to raise the then astronomical price of $82,000 to save her. Thanks to the benevolence and deep pockets of some Bordens and Durfees, not to mention the banker Charles Holmes – the Central Congregational Church was saved. Saved by a handful of her citizens. And what was the purchasing power of $82,000 in 1889 dollars compared to today? Better sit down for this one: $1,868,784.
Flash Forward 120 years: Today’s auction of her raped and pillaged body had no real takers to feed and dress her and nurture her back to her glory and prideful days – none save the bank to whom she was already indebted. There were no deep pocket, benevolent individuals to step forward. There were no “historical society” members (so often pleading for their own survival). The roar of preservationist outrage for saving another tattered thread in Fall River’s architectural weave was nowhere to be heard. So for a mere $250,000 she is auctioned off today. She’s tattered, beaten and bruised. In need of serious attention, of which she will not likely receive, save for public safety. As the weeds sprout around her and her internal organs continue to deteriorate, this grand lady will succumb to the passages of time. The silence of the vox populi serves up less surprise than sorrow.
$250,000. Shame on you Fall River. Shame on the people in Fall River who have the financial means – but looked away. Not quite the same generation or values as those that rushed to the call for action in pledges on February 11, 1889.