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Today's word on journalism

Monday, January 29, 2007

Words as weapons:

"When he had a pen in his hand it was like giving a kid a machine gun."

--Peter Hall, theater director, on "Angry Young Man" playwright John Osborne (1929-1994)

Karl Seethaler works to preserve Providence history

By Dave Mehr

December 13, 2006 | PROVIDENCE -- As chairman of the Historic Preservation Committee, Karl Seethaler has the opportunity to participate in the community, and by studying the city's history he is able to see how much Providence has grown.

"When I first came here, there was hardly anything up on the bench," Seethaler said. A native of California, Seethaler came to Providence in 1973 after spending some time overseas. He grew fond of Cache Valley and has since become quite involved with the city, particularly in preserving it.

Now, as owner of the Old Rock Church and the Providence Inn, Seethaler is even more active in the city's history. Seethaler bought the building in 1993 when residents became aware that certain developers wanted to turn the church into an apartment complex. Since its construction, the building had been used as a church, a store, and an assisted living center.

"The community came together to protect it," Seethaler said.

The Old Rock Church was built by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in 1869, 10 years after Providence was settled by pioneers. The church is the oldest building in Cache Valley and is on the National Register of Historic Places.

Since the city is off the highway, Seethaler said most people go to Providence as a destination, instead of merely passing through. For many, the Old Rock Church is the main attraction. Cache Valley is home to many other significant historical landmarks of Utah, including Logan's historic courthouse, Oneida Academy in Preston, the Wellsville tabernacle, Whittier School, the opera house, and Old Main, to just name a few.

Seethaler realizes that Providence is growing and many people are building houses on farmland. "There's good and bad aspects to it. We're losing a lot of the old flavor," Seethaler said. "But it makes it a more dynamic community."

The historic preservation committee has been an active committee, and Seethaler enjoys being a part of it.

"I don't really care where the city runs the sewer lines, but I do care about preserving the city," Seethaler said.

One thing he hopes to see in the future is a historic district, potentially from 200 North to 500 South and 200 West to 400 East. After the area is surveyed, it has to go through the State Division of History for the district to be approved.

"If we are able to establish a historic district, we hope it will be recognizable," Seethaler said.

The committee has plans to produce another edition of Providence and Her People, a book that covers the city's history and demographics. The most recent edition was put together in the 1970's, so there has been tremendous growth since then. "We're trying to get a grasp on the history," Seethaler said.

Speaking about the city's pioneers, Seethaler said, "The legacies they left behind are beginning to be cherished more. That sentiment has been building up."

Seethaler predicts that in 30 years, land for developing will be long gone. He also believes that neighborhoods will be well-established in the future.

"If growth occurs, it would be nice to have an area here that maintains its character," Seethaler said. "It's going to grow as population grows."

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