If change is the only constant, a tip of the hat is due to those who preserve history.
Like pioneers who handed down articles of clothing until they reached the end of their useful life, then ripped apart the worn-out dress and stitched it into a new quilt, reusing and recycling is a way of life in the West.
Three cheers for Esther Judge-Lennox, a Jackson woman who, through her nonprofit Shacks on Racks, endeavors to keep serviceable structures out of the landfill. This month she partnered with the National Elk Refuge, Grand Teton Association and others to move an historic 1930s bungalow a mile across town, where it will house a family instead of being scraped into the trash.
Her work is reminiscent of West Bankers’ push to keep the circa 1931 wooden school structure in Wilson from being torn down after the new school was built in 1999. Once funds and expertise were secured to shore up and restore the building it reclaimed its status as a gathering place for Wilsonites: church, preschool, craft sales, lectures and voting among its uses. The Old Wilson Schoolhouse Community Center is a hub for the community.
When Teton County purchased the 1-acre property of the late Grace and Norris Brown in June, alongside the goal of building affordable housing was somehow preserving the building where electricity was first generated and sold in Jackson Hole. Teton County Commissioners got on board with the idea of saving the structure and creating a community center.
The community’s generosity, shepherded by the Jackson Hole Land Trust, has preserved a piece of our cultural landscape along the Genevieve Block, where tourists and locals can dine together in historic cabins or under the shade of mature cottonwood trees.
Just down the street, developer John Holland invested in the expensive endeavor of rescuing the 1915 building that once housed Jackson’s blacksmith and the Sweetwater Restaurant, painstakingly restoring the century-old log structure.
As modern box homes proliferate throughout town and income inequality continues to rise, focusing on the little things can keep the Soul of the Hole alive. Wooden boardwalks, towering cottonwoods, log cabins and other historic buildings all help maintain the community character that makes this place — rightly revered as a tourist destination — home.