Monday, December 10, 2007

I am charmed by the amateur enthusiasm of this site, Living up to its billing as "A Virtual Museum Preserving Walla Walla's Legacy" the site reminds me so much of little town and county museums scattered across the west. It features historic photos of Walla Walla, maps, the odd historic newspaper article, and a section called "Vanishing Walla Walla" that juxtaposes photos of decaying and demolished historic buildings with the strip development monstrosities that have replaced them. This is how amateur local history should be done, with a passion for place, careful research and a bit of whimsy.

The site also includes a enchanting (and extensive!) series of before and after pictures. I like this set. The ladies in the turn-of-the-century postcard on the left look so very proud as they stand beside the little fountain. The background is the treeless bleakness of large swaths of the Inland Northwest as it appeared it the nineteenth and early twentieth century. Presumably these ladies had something to do with the establishment of the fountain and the park, their efforts expressed an optimism in the future of their community and a desire to leave a legacy for future generations. The modern photograph of the same fountain to the right is profoundly satisfying--the fountain appears well-maintained these hundred years, the trees have grown up and benches allow visitors to enjoy the shade, and children frolic in the water, just as in the original photograph a century before.

Hey--I see that the site also offers careful reproductions of historic postcards and a calendar of historic photos of Walla Walla. I am going to buy one for an old friend from Walla Walla.

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