Accurately define historic sites

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 6, 2005

There are a lot of places in peril in the state of Alabama.

The Alabama Historical Commission has released a list of those sites, one of which is the

Plattenburg House in Selma.

At 93, the Plattenburg House was still such a show-stopper that it got recorded by the 1935 Historic American Building Survey. The historical commission would like to see it be a show-stopper again and believe it can be, with the right owner.

The rare raised cottage with Greek Revival and Italianate details was built in 1842 as the center of Weseley Plattenburg’s plantation. It is one of the few structures shown on the map of the Battle of Selma. The city grew up around it and now the house is all that remains of the 2200-acre plantation.

Of course, the house is not the only historical or cultural site in peril in Selma. Almost daily, we see our history fall apart with each crumbling building and every decaying stairwell or front porch.

A case presently being heard at the Dallas County Courthouse addresses concerns such as preserving historic sites and artifacts.

But, the best defense these treasure hunters have is a vague state law, which does not strictly define what areas are historically or culturally significant.

Alabama needs to redefine and more specifically define sites of historic and cultural significance.

Of course, those sites should include waterways, such as the Alabama River, at least where ports, or docks were located, for no other reason but the significance the river played in the early development of this area.

Artifacts like those found in the Alabama River should at least be examined by experts to see what their historical contribution might be.