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Clearing up misgivings about 'The Bottom' historical marker

Letter to the editor

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POSTED: December 3, 2012 12:10 p.m.

Editor, The Richmond Hill Historical Society, specifically well-known historian and author Buddy Sullivan and our vice-president, Christy Sherman, have thoroughly researched our historical records and have found the information stated on the historical marker on Mimosa Street referring to the area known as “The Bottom” to be correct.

The term refers to the landscape itself. The area was called The Bottom prior to Henry Ford arriving in Ways Station. When Ford began building homes for his employees he had dirt hauled in to raise the land high enough for structures to safely be built on.

When I spoke with Diane Rutland in September, I suggested she present a petition signed by 51 percent of the residents in the neighborhood who were upset by the marker to the Richmond Hill Historical Society, Richmond Hill City Council and the Richmond Hill Convention and Business Bureau. We have not received anything thus far.

I have spoken with local real estate agents to get feedback from them as to the effect the sign has on property values in the neighborhood. Local residents have been canvassed on their feelings about the historical marker signs and specifically the sign in that neighborhood. The overwhelming reaction we have received is positive. The real estate agents I spoke with thought it was a positive selling point for a home to be in a significant historical neighborhood such as Richmond Hill Village.

It is not the job of the Historical Society to change or rewrite history. Our job is to present the facts, warts and all, to the public. We try very hard to make sure the things that give our town and Bryan Neck its special personality are remembered. The concern we have is if we don’t keep our history alive, we risk becoming like every other little town with no personality and nothing to set us apart.

The land Richmond Hill Village sits on was called “The Bottom” because of its wet, swampy terrain. Even before Ways Station’s name was changed to Richmond Hill, it was known as “The Bottom.” It is a geographical reference describing the land itself. Webster’s Dictionary refers to “a bottom” as low-lying land. In no way does it refer to the residents of the area.

I hope this clears up some of the misgivings about the historical markers placed throughout the area. It was a joint effort by the city, the CVB and the Richmond Hill Historical Society to showcase the unique area we are lucky to live in.

— Sarah Volker, president
Richmond Hill Historical Society

 

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