Map of New York highlighting Schenectady County

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I am so mad right now I could spit. More precisely, I’d like to punch something, or someone. I have someone in mind, but I’ll keep that to myself. In Niskayuna, NY, not very far from where I live, there is this historic landmark, the Ingersoll Mansion. It was built by the founder of Stanford College, I believe. I’ve gone by this place countless times and always admired it, despite it being empty and boarded up. It’s the last vestiges of history in an overwhelmingly commercialized, store-laden section of town and now it seems its time is over too.

It’s going to be turned into a shopping center, the mansion being the centerpiece of this project. I think it’s one of the ugliest, aesthetically offensive monstrosities I’ve ever seen. This beautiful, dignified brick mansion will be parked in between two ugly, squat, commercially crass retail units, like an ostrich amongst a flock of chickens. The project is supposedly to be finished by next year. This whole debacle made it into the news recently because by a feat of maneuvering and logistics, the mansion was actually moved from its original location to several hundred feet away, awaiting its new transformation into a cheap sideshow attraction of a shopping center. I might add, there is a sizable shopping center right across from it now, called Mohawk Commons. It’s got plenty of shopping there already.

The traffic around that area is already kind of crazy, due to its location, but when this new project goes through, it’s going to be a nightmare. I am so angry that I didn’t know about this situation earlier, because I would’ve been glad to add my voice to the opposition. The local historical groups protesting this endeavour just didn’t have enough funding, enough means of getting their message out about what will happen to this wonderful piece of history. It’s sickening that profit wins out over preservation, that history is reduced to nothing more than cheap retail space.

Yes, I know economic times are tough. I know people want to make money, but must one sell their soul in order to reap the rewards? This Highbridge group, the developers running this scheme, think this will be a huge moneymaking boom for them. I think their architects have the worst aesthetic sense in human history. It is an EYESORE. It is cheap looking, it looks contrived, the architectural styles clash so badly it isn’t even funny.

I love historical sites, because I enjoy learning about the people who once lived there, who built it, why they did. It’s part of our communities, our culture, and if we let them crumble to dust, we lose out on who came before us. Or we turn them into cheap marketing props and dishonor the ones who left their legacy for us. To me, the construction of this shopping center is like taking a beautiful old cathedral, one with lovely stained glass windows, and converting it into a whorehouse. That’s what’s being done to the Ingersoll Mansion. It’s shameful, it’s underhanded, and it’s blatant big business greed at work. I weep for the desperate efforts of the historical groups who fought so hard to save it from this ignonomous fate. Shame on the elected officials who thought money trumped part of our historical heritage. Shame on them for caving in to greedy, arrogant developers who want to put up more ugly shopping malls. If they could, these people would raze Gettysburg and put a strip mall in its place. They have no respect for history, for the land, and the people who put in so much to save it.

There’s not much I can do but to vent my spleen over this travesty, and hope people take notice of this. I wish there was some philanthropic millionaire who could buy out these Highbridge crooks and save it from such humiliating treatment. Maybe someone will. Maybe people will be mad enough from reading this to embark on a letter-writing campaign to the developers on how terrible this shopping blight will impact the area. I say we inundate them with angry letters, e-mail, videos on YouTube, anything we can to voice our displeasure over this mess. Most of all, please honor the tireless efforts of the local historical societies who put up such a fight. They need your appreciation most of all.