Ransom of O. Henry

Driving to work this morning, I heard the TPR story on the O. Henry House downtown, not too far from Market Square.  While listening, I started thinking about how some of the cultural history and architecture of this city gets lost, especially if it’s not revived by some party or celebration.  How many San Antonians even know about this little house?  While walking back to my car after enchiladas at Mi Tierra probably a year or so ago, I remember spotting the small building, stopping to look in its curtained windows, and was surprised that this landmark was just stuck at the corner of a nondescript parking lot.

Fast forward to this morning, sitting in the school parking lot until the story finished, I thought about how this podcast could be used not just as a background builder for students before reading O. Henry stories, but speculated how the issues surrounding the house’s current status might inspire kids to develop some kind of service learning project, tying together preservation of cultural history with community involvement.

Instead of making a poster collage or even a Glogster about an O. Henry story, what about students raising money and petitioning the city to establish an O. Henry park? What about students becoming detectives about the artifacts that should or shouldn’t be in this space, or becoming docents of the little museum, figuratively or literally? What about creating online virtual tours/interactive exploration of a variety of city landmarks, especially for students whose field trip excursions are limited or completely eliminated, or simply live in another part of the city? What about the city sponsoring such an interactive site, using the brainpower and creativity of its young constituency to help design it?  Or what about giving kids a microphone and video camera, and have them document landmarks they feel need to be preserved in their community?

Antique meets Tech, a mash-up of old and new…just think of the essential questions you could pose:

In the way we live today, why should we preserve anything? What makes something worth saving? How do we deal with preserving the past in a throw-away society? Some say the past informs the future…what does the status of the O. Henry house say about the future?

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