Lake Lewisburg

Posted: February 1, 2010 in Uncategorized
Tags: , ,

“Make no small plans.” 

That’s one of my favorite quotes from Daniel Burnham, the 19th century architect responsible for, among other things, directing the planning and design of the Chicago Worlds Fair in 1893.  It was an incredible time in United States history and the World’s Columbian Exposition, as the World’s Fair was called, epitomized the Burnham quote. (For a fascinating account of the Columbian Exposition project and a riveting side-story, check out Erik Larson’s book, The Devil in the White City.)  The entire quote (see below) explains that too often we don’t aim high enough and that we’re too quick to settle for mediocrity.

So when I saw the article in the Charleston (WV) Gazette about architect Tag Galyean’s idea to build an eight-acre lake right on the fringe of historic, downtown Lewisburg, West Virginia, my first reaction was “You’ve got to be kidding.”  Right now, that’s probably the reaction of many Lewisburg residents.  It’s a bold and dramatic idea that would change the face of Lewisburg. 

Tag Galyean concept sketch of Lake Lewisburg.

I would be surprised if the idea moves past the concept stage.  There are lots of issues – construction issues, cultural heritage issues, traffic issues, and of course, costs – to be considered.  In the end, the people of Lewisburg will decide whether or not they want a new lake next to their historic downtown.

But give Tag Galyean credit for thinking big.  That’s when the magic begins.

Make no small plans. They have no magic to stir men’s blood and probably themselves will not be realized. Make big plans; aim high in hope and work, remembering that a noble, logical plan once recorded will never die, but long after we are gone will be a living thing, asserting itself with ever-growing insistency. Remember that our children are going to do things that will stagger us. Let your watchword be order and your beacon, beauty.

 Think big.

 Daniel Burnham

  1. Lewis Payne says:

    Loved The Devil in the White City, great book. Do you know Slack Plaza very well in Charleston? I would be curious to get your insight into possible improvements there. I am on the “Slack Plaza Committee” which is looking into the redevelopment of that space. Thanks for your thoughts, Lewis

  2. John Manchester says:

    I agree with your points, Joe, on Lake Lewisburg. I like people to think big, test the boundaries, ask what if and why not. That being said, the challenges to the proposal are enormous–first one that comes to mind and the first call I would make if I were proposing such a project would be to the State Historic Preservation Office to ask whether they see any difficulty with flooding the area that served as the initial spring and the reason why Lewisburg was settled in the late 1700s to begin with. Site of where they mustered to go to Point Pleasant to fight with Chief Cornstock, site of former mills, the old jail, etc. But until an idea runs its course, I am not the one to shut down discussion and wonderment about it.
    Isn’t Teddy Roosevelt often quoted noting that the problem is not so much in aiming high and missing the mark but rather aiming at mediocrity and hitting it?

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