New Memorial A Good Idea

A faded photograph shows hundreds of Civil War veterans and their families dedicating the Museum and Historic Building in Little Valley.

Above a door in the soon-to-be-demolished building hangs a plaque that reads, “To the Memory of the Soldiers and Sailors in the War of the Rebellion, This Building is Erected by Cattaraugus County.” The plaque is a reminder of the building’s former status as a county museum and Civil War memorial.

Soon, all that will be left of the building is that faded photograph.

The decision to raze the century-old building is simply the last in a long line of well-meaning judgements about how and where to spend Cattaraugus County money. Alterations to the building, which was attached to the former Cattaraugus County Board of Elections building, significantly changed the building’s character. Over time as money got tighter, needed renovations weren’t made. Finally, when it came time to spend money on a building project, the money went to the Stonehouse in Machias, the former county poorhouse that has been converted into the county museum.

Understandably, there are many angry about the loss of a war memorial. There has been some talk of private citizens establishing a committee to preserve the building – though county officials don’t see much future for the building. An interior wall has fallen, there is water damage, mold, asbestos and a leaky roof. Citizens interested in preserving the building should be forewarned it will cost much time and money – though the county should help if it can do so and if a committee can be organized.

Perhaps, though, a building was a bad idea as a memorial in the first place. County officials should take the lead in designing a new, more formal memorial to the county’s Civil War soldiers. It is the least they can do.