I was 3 1/2 when we moved to Metropolis, and among those first memories were weekly trips with Mom to picnic along the riverside at Fort Massac State Park.

Even at that age, I remember thinking: Why is that building at the entrance to a park?!

At that point, Laidlaw had called that property home for about four years. And folks around here knew what brand to look for when they needed a flyswatter.

By the time Laidlaw found a new location to call home in the Metropolis Industrial Park, I had been living on my own in Tennessee for seven years.

But every time I came home and passed that building, I wondered “why?!”

I was working my first stint at the Planet when the Friends of Fort Massac began talks with the City of Metropolis about purchasing the property. I remember then-FoFM president Sue Barfield’s excitement as she shared the group’s vision for Massac Village, a replica of the colonial community that became our hometown of Metropolis.

From Sue’s descriptions, especially after visiting a similar site in Mitchell, Indiana, I envisioned a place like Plimoth Plantation (now the Plimoth Patuxet Museums), the Pilgrim-era replica site up in Plymouth, Massachusetts, I first visited around the age of 2 or 3. I wondered how those folks in their period dress could live there all the time and how that great big ship could land on that little rock.

But from that experience (and a second visit to Plimoth many years later), I knew how interesting the Friends’ vision can be, not only to residents, but to visitors in the growing boom of historical tourism.

By the time I left the Planet in 2015, FoFM had nailed down the purchase of the property but was still going through several grant application processes to make the next step of their dream a reality — the demolition of “that building.” In fact, in late 2014, FoFM expected that demolition to occur in spring 2015; however, that did not come to pass.

So when I came back to the Planet in September 2020, current FoFM president Mike Korte was on my list of folks to call to see where things stood. Nine months later, I received an email from the Planet’s editor emeritus, Clyde Wills, that said Sen. Dale Fowler would be in town for “his announcement day.”

Could it be?! Has Friends FINALLY gotten the money to tear down “that building”?!

And to the delight of many — from Friends members to city, to park employees to county and state officials — the answer is “YES!”

While they knew what was coming, Fowler’s announcement Monday morning was met with thunderous applause in the park’s visitors’ center. And as the group ventured to the site for pictures, many took the opportunity to look inside the building that for over 100 years housed a number of businesses that put Metropolis on the map.

But now is the time for the location to become the home of another site for Metropolis, one that looks to its history in securing its future.

Thank you, Sen. Fowler, for helping make the Friends’ dream start coming true.

Thank you, Friends, for not only dreaming but sticking with it.

As Massac County commissioner Jayson Farmer said, I think we’re all “excited to see the next phase of this land once this building is torn down.”

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