I  will admit I'm a bit conflicted about the debate going on now between the historical preservationists and whatever is the opposite of historical preservation when it comes to the Avalong Dairy Farm barn in Springettsbury Township.

I do like saving old stuff. I've got a bunch of old stuff in my own home which, I might add, is more than 80 years old.

But not all old stuff is automatically worth saving just because it's old. I've got a lot of old stuff that isn't worth a plugged nickel. I keep it around only because it's old, and I like it.

I own a catcher's mitt I used when I was in high school -- 48 years ago or more. It's old, but it has no value to anyone but me.

I own a Boy Scout pocket knife my parents bought me 52 years ago, but its only value is to me, not history.

And frankly, I'm thinking that might be the case with the Avalong Dairy Farm barn, which sits on Whiteford Road, just across the street from the Galleria mall.

It's old. But it's probably not worth saving. From all I've seen and read, it has no more historical significance than my own house, which actually might be older by more than 20 or 25 years than the Avalong Dairy barn.

I like my house just fine. In fact, I love my house. But once I'm out of it or dead, whichever comes first, I don't think anyone is going to think it's important enough in York County history to preserve for all eternity.


Old? Sure. Historically significant? I don't think so.

Is the Avalong Dairy Barn part of the East York landscape? Well, sure, for about 10 years back in the   '60s, when there was a drive-in restaurant on the spot next to a golf driving range, all of which disappeared a long time ago -- 25 years ago, at least.

I spent a fair amount of time at the drive-in restaurant when I was a teenager. Which was saying something since I didn't have my own car, and I lived on the other end of the county.

It took a half-hour to get from my house to Avalongs back in the day. Still, I made the trip once a week, four or five times a month, when one of my car-owner buddies was willing to make the trip and I could slip him a dollar for gas money.

But Avalongs was hardly the only drive-in restaurant located in York County. And I think the Avalong family lost all right and opportunity to claim historical significance once they sold the property in the 1980s for commercial development.

It's been owned by several different people/companies since it was last owned by the Avalong family, and it's been renovated a couple of times, as well. Two barns located on the property 50 years ago are gone. One was struck by lightning and burned down, the other was demolished to make room for retail development.

So whatever historical significance the remaining barn ever had -- and I think not much -- disappeared when it was sold to the highest bidder.

I say this not because I'm anxious to see another bank added to the York County landscape.

The truth of the matter is York County needs another bank like it needs a hole in its head. As it is, we have more banks and convenience stores in York County than any of us, except for the owners of convenience stores and banks, will ever have need for. As it stands, I can hardly turn around and spit without hitting a bank somewhere.

Still, I would never suggest saving the barn just so another bank can't be built. That would be stupid.

Because if not a bank, there will always be someone who wants to build something in that location, just across from a huge mall and next to one of the two most heavily traveled thoroughfares in York County.

A convenience store, perhaps. Or yet another strip mall.

Here's the thing. For the Avalong barn to be considered more historically significant than all the other old barns in York County, it would mean something historically significant had to happen there. As far as I know that's not the case.

For the last 25 years or more, no one thought much about the Avalong Dairy barn having historical value. Then someone bought it and decided to tear it down. Now, all of a sudden, it has historical significance.

It's true, the dairy barn was an East York landmark, but that's all. You could say the same thing about Sears and Roebuck and the Stony Brook Drive-in movie theater, and they're both gone. Long gone.

When we take the position that everything old is historically significant, it actually diminishes the importance of those things that truly are historically significant.

So we've got to make wise choices about what we save or we'll end up being little more than a bunch of history hoarders.

Not every 50-year-old barn or house or building in York County has historical value. Or 100-year-old, either, for that matter.

And that includes the Avalong Dairy barn.

Columns by Larry A. Hicks, Dispatch columnist, run Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays. E-mail: lhicks@yorkdispatch.com.