Advocate: Save the Old Main lawn | Arkansas Blog

Advocate: Save the Old Main lawn

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SACRED GROUND: Old Main lawn.
  • SACRED GROUND: Old Main lawn.

Fayetteville historic preservation advocate Paula Marinoni has taken to the ramparts again.

This time it's to organize opposition to a University of Arkansas plan to temporarily cut a road across the lawn of Old Main — "sacred ground" in her words — to reach construction projects. The lawn is to be restored after about two years, apparently. There's an article about this in a Fayetteville paper today, but I can't find it on-line for a link or summary.

She's organizing an event Sunday afternoon. Details follow.

EMAIL FROM PAULA MARINONI

Friends, associates, concerned citizens and alumni;

You will see in the Northwest Arkansas section of the Democrat Gazette today that the university plans to cut a road thru the front lawn of Old Main.

They plan to ask the city to take the parking off of Lafayette Street from Gregg to Arkansas Avenue so the dump trucks can have the full street. Then they plan to take apart the historic rock wall at the end of Lafayette Street and cut into the lawn to ramp up to the surface. They say they will put everything back in two years when they’re done. They think this is the best option. Read the article.

They are running up the flag to see if it flies. If we don’t act quickly they will do it and, like they have done before, come in the middle of the night if they have to. They ALWAYS wait to do these things until after the students have left and the student newspaper, the Traveler, is shut down so the students will have no voice or even know about it until it’s too late.

Back in the university master plan process of 1997 & ’98 someone wanted to put another academic building on the south end of the front lawn. I protested quickly. But fortunately the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees, likely the most conservative group of individuals in the State of Arkansas, protested also and said that the front lawn of Old Main was “Sacred Ground”. About a year ago I organized a meeting to discuss the historical difference between special places, spirit of place and sacred ground. About 50 residents of Fayetteville attended. I pointed out that “Sacred Ground” doesn’t have to have a religious connotation. A place can be made sacred in the minds and hearts of people because it is traditionally and unwaveringly held in such high regard and with such high reverence as to render it worthy of protection from any kind of degradation. It was agreed that the front lawn of Old Main was the only place that totally qualified in this category. We also agreed in the discussion, that we could hardly think of another such site in all of Arkansas that was universally known and held in such high regard. It was also discussed that the high regard and reverence was timeless, that it would hold true at any point of time, but increased as time went on.

The front lawn of Old Main is the soul of the University of Arkansas. To cut a road for dump trucks thru the middle of the front lawn of Old Main would be an unprecedented degradation to the “Sacred Ground” and the disregard would be a disgrace to every alumni in the history of the University of Arkansas. To even think this is Ok is a violation of trust and duty to the hearts that hold this space dear. This is a disastrous mistake.

Citizens of Fayetteville, Alumni of the University of Arkansas, Citizens of the Great State of Arkansas, speak up and speak up fast or it will be done!

Protest tomorrow afternoon (Sunday) at 5:00p.m., on the front lawn of Old Main, at the end of Lafayette where they plan to cut the wall. Bring signs, banners, lawn chairs and most importantly, your voice! Spread the word!

Respectfully,

Paula Marinoni

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