Aug 15, 2007

my letter

This is the content of a letter I've faxed to have read tonight at my mom's meeting. If you're a praying person, please pray from 8pm EST on. I'll let you guys know the results as I learn of them.

I love that part in the Bible where a runt stood against a giant... and the giant fell down.


To the City of St. Charles Historic Preservation Commission and Chairman Steve Smunt:

Thank you for the opportunity this letter provides for me to speak on behalf of my mom, Annshirley Bowie, St Charles resident and homeowner of 405 S 7th Street. I am her son and currently live and pastor in Medina, Ohio where my mom hopes to relocate. This situation has created ripples into our life as we, also in our limited funds and limited space, want to figure out how to help her. While she has dealt with cancer in recent years, I fear that the stress of recent events (including this matter) has put strain upon her health and future.

I am aware of the move you are attempting to make upon her rights as a homeowner.

However, I want you to imagine for a moment that your vote doesn’t count in any of this. Pretend if you can that regardless of what you think or feel on this matter your voice has been silenced… your values and unique slant don’t matter. I’m sure you have an opinion, and yet (please play along) imagine that your opinion must be suppressed and you have absolutely no say in this issue at all.

If you have allowed yourself that momentary leap, this is what you are attempting to do to my mom.

According to the arguments I’ve heard on your behalf, you allege that this landmarking would not prevent her from “selling or developing the property.” Great! There is someone who would like to buy the property so he can develop new homes on it by demolishing the house. So this okay, right? Especially since the home is outside the historic district.

Or... is that allegation on your behalf not quite what it seems in the press? Is that in reality only a partial response to a whole question? A knight in shining armor hasn’t stepped up to buy the house “as is,” has he?

I’ve also hear it said that “this can be a win/win situation if both sides can simply take out the emotions, look at the facts of the matters and work it out.” Interesting… is it possible to have no personal feelings on this matter? It seems to me that the value to “protect significant historic and architectural resources” is more art than science, requiring you to engage your thoughts and emotions. After all, emotions are a part of the whole person… so I would encourage you not to cast them aside… nor the value of considering the whole person.

On that note, your committee is made up of a 7-member board where “at least one member shall be a representative of a local historical society or preservation organization; at least one member shall be an architect with an interest in historic preservation; at least one member shall be a representative of the business community; and the remaining four members shall be at large and who shall have demonstrated an interest in historic preservation.” Do you see a common trend? There is no counter-intuitive thinking on your board but all have a vested interested in the preservation of things. Is it possible this has created a biased blind spot on your values that creates an oversight of the human individual? Please think about it.

It is my concern that in the process you are pursuing to preserve the wants of a few neighbors and manufacture the “rights” of a thing you are thereby removing the rights of a person – a homeowner. As my mom is dealing with the recent loss of her husband who served his country in the military as well been a resident and “customer of St. Charles” for many years, this movement on your part is taking her rights away. While she can protest, if this goes through (and why would you, for that matter, want it to?) the red tape you will place around her may well become a noose around her neck. In doing so you would create a rather interesting responsibility of emotional damage, financial difficulty, and physical stress upon her health with the breadcrumbs leading back to you organizationally and individually. Hmm.

Please hear this… my mom, Annshirley Bowie, widow of Tom Bowie and sole homeowner of the property on 405 S 7th Street in St Charles, does not want her house to become a landmark
. I know you did read that last part… but does that reality matter? Please answer that question – is there value in being a homeowner in St Charles if you have no voice in these matters?

I’ve heard talk from one of your members that this is happening because “in the past her late husband Tom explored the possibility of this landmarking.” I’m quite confident and clear in a conversation he and I had before his death that the conversations you shared in February were simply to see if this would be a way to immediately sell the house to you. Am I to understand that without any legal documentation from him stating such alleged intent you are using hearsay as the “reason” to move forward? Is that legal?

Please help me understand if you’re so interested in preserving this house why you’re unwilling to buy it? Perhaps you have limited funds… much like my mom who is quickly, quickly running out of hers. It sounds like you’d like all the benefits of this deal without any responsibility. This isn’t consistent, either, with the recent demolition of several “historic buildings” in your business district to make way for “progress.”

Please pardon my frustration. I don’t know how any of this comes across to you, because it can just be plain black letters on a white piece of paper. Perhaps you’ll see more than that, though, just as I hope you’ll see more than the issue of a house in this matter. A woman’s future is at stake because instead of valuing a person you’d like to value the bragging rights of a neighborhood and a decaying home (you’ve been inside, right?). Please tell me that on some level within you know that is not right to value things over people.

I know in an ideal world someone will step forward and save the day. Perhaps that will be you?


Tony Myles


irreverend fox said...

well put...and I would have done the same thing...but abandon all hope when it comes to speaking sense into bureaucracy...your hope is in the Lord (obviously) and in a court hearing apparently.

this is why our founders wanted LIMITED government, private property rights…and why there is a second amendment by the way. the second amendment is not just about hunting…it’s PRIMARILY about keeping the government in check…no wonder liberals and socialists want to redefine it and/or remove it.

our founders NEVER envisioned this nonsense your mom is dealing with.

Brian said...

Nice letter, Tony...blessings to you and your mom.

David Moss said...

I'll be praying for you and your family. Thanks for being willing to let us journey along in our own ways...and share the gift of prayer. May God's kingdom break through in this process...the provision of daily bread be apparent...and somehow God be glorified.

Wayne and Carolyn said...

We have written a letter. We are praying!

This morning we got what we believe to be a miracle in order to care for my mother's needs.

God cares about our individual plight! We are praying about this meeting tonight.

We are boldly looking toward the Heavenly Father to care for this dear widow. He does care for the fatherless and the widows.

Anonymous said...

From the comments I've seen, it looks like a lot of residents should be coming to that meeting tonight to support your mom. I hope they fill the room.

We'll be praying for your mom tonight.


Anonymous said...

I am so sorry to hear that all this is happening to your Mother. I have admired that house since I moved to St. Charles and have yearned to buy it since it was for sale. I walk by that house every evening and wonder why it stands empty with no for sale sign up anymore. I will pray that someone
comes along who loves that house as much as I do, and buy it, and hopefully restore it.

Tony Myles said...

Thank you for this comment, and there is an interested buyer. The hold up has been the mortgage company, Washington Mutual, who is more disorganized than organized. My prayers are to resolve this, too, but the good news is that my mom is now close by to us and doing her best to get on without any income. Had she been able to sell last summer when she could, a lot of this could have been avoided.

Anonymous said...

I've noticed that the house is up for sale again. I can not get any information from the real estate listing company, do you know why? I have loved the house since I was a little girl, and would be interested in purchasing this house. Do you know who I can contact to get information?

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for the ask and the kind words about the house. After the initial block by the city to sell it the main buyers took off, so I think just recently did it auction at a crazy low price. I'm not sure whose hands it will be in but unfortunately my mom lost it all financially and is just glad to be out of it. I wish it could have ended better. Thankfully, though, the city administration has changed its policies on this kind of stuff as of the summer.

Kristin1708 said...


My friend and I just drove past this house today...I'm just curious what has happened since your mom has moved out of it? It's an absolutely stunning house and I hope it goes to an owner who will appreciate the beautiful architecture.

Tony Myles said...

Thanks for asking. I don't know any more about it other than my last post. It all ended badly... my mom lost everything.