Now, I promise I will try my best to keep up with this. HOWEVER, life happens, so be patient! I will use this blog to keep you up to date with my adventures in historic preservation. You'll hear about projects, towns I've explored, and my thoughts on current events related to preservation! To start off, let me tell you about myself:
So who am I anyway?
My name is Jacob Stotler. I am a 19 year old from Salem, Missouri. I founded S.O.S.- Save Our School in 2017, which was renamed as the Salem Alliance for Historic Preservation in 2019. My family raised us going to historic sites on a regular basis. I grew up in our Missouri State Parks system, (later working for them for 3 years) and was either outdoors or at a historic site every weekend of my childhood. In 2014, as part of a church mission trip, I participated in my first preservation project in St. Louis at the old Melvin Theatre. From there, my one true love was born.
The Melvin Theatre off of Chippewa began my love for saving historic buildings. From my first steps inside the doors, I was in love.
The old Middle School property always fascinated me from the time I was a child. It's large, empty windows looked so sad and lonely. Yeah, yeah, I know buildings don't have feelings, but you know what I mean. Now, keep in mind, this building was closed 3 years before I was even born. It had been closed exactly 20 years when I began my mission to save the old girl. A simple post on Facebook started everything, putting me in contact with preservationists across the state. Before you know it, this 16 year old kid has become full fledged in the middle of the hottest topic in our little town- what the hell do we do with this building??
I became the voice for the Hilltop. Public meetings, interviews, you think it, I did it. I had followers across the state, but just as many against me. I took 2 years to write a 268 page proposal, which I presented to the city of Salem in 2019. The city decided against saving the school.
The demolition of the Old Middle School sparked a preservation revolution in Salem, with us at the head. Our office opened August 7th, 2019, ironically the same day the school was demolished. Today, we are fighting for other buildings in our community. Through educational outreach, volunteer projects, and financial assistance, we are preserving Salem's history- one building at a time.
Have questions? Contact me anytime! I'm happy to talk!