A Sense of History: Then and Now
by Doris E. Auser
Aside from being the title of a well-known novel, the words "You Can't Go Home Again" express many different meanings to many different people.
There have been many imaginative stories about persons from bygone ages returning after generations, centuries or even decades to a once familiar home.
It is not necessary to go too far back in time to find a person who would feel unfamiliar right here-if they had been away and out of touch for a few years.
In some instances even the contour of the land has changed. Hills have been lowered by roads and houses built in once wooded areas. Farms have given way to commercial areas or residential developments.
Perhaps it is unavoidable that many newer developments caused the demise of trees and shrubs, where the non-builder feels that some beauty could have been retained. It does seem to be true in several cases that in their childhood and awkward adolescence and without the softening effect of full grown landscaping, some developments cannot help bringing to the passerby's mind and lips the words of a recent song-"Little houses on the hillside, little houses made of ticky-tacky and they all look just the same."
One problem that has always been present since the original 250-acre plus farms of the first settlers of Yorktown began to dwindle is the spread of business areas. Here lies the proof of the old saying "hindsight is better than foresight."
In the top picture we can see that business is beginning to move from the railroad area, just a little, but enough to start changes.
The house with the gambrel roof, at the time this picture was taken before World War I, was occupied by Arthur Heusse's drug store. As is noted by the sign he placed across the street in front of his store, he sold Fussel's ice cream
Today this building retains its distinctive roofline. However, the second story porch has been removed and other stores occupy the lower portion.
The house in the earlier picture with the hipped roof and dormer window belonged at that time to Niles Mekeel. Standing in the same spot today the roof is all that is visible of this house.
A row of offices have spread west in a one-story building.
The picket fence (probably once a delight to young boys carrying sticks) enclosed the Roake home. Now both homes and fence have given way to the Sinclair gas station and Rexall's drug store.
The same ugly telephone and electric lines can be seen now as then. The streets have not only been paved, they have also been renamed. At the time of the pre World War I photo, the intersecting street were called State Road and Whitney Street. State Road is now Commerce Street and Whitney Road is the western extension of Hanover Road.
Many people now regret that commercial structures were not designed "in keeping" with the spirit of the area.
And in those two words "in keeping," we have a problem now facing Yorktown and other communities interested in urban renewal. With what should the new buildings be in keeping? We all want our town to combine progress with recognition of the importance of our historic heritage and beauty.
The Yorktowner, Vol. 2 No. 21, March 7, 1968
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