Looks like time has come to say goodbye to local icon

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The word “iconic” gets used a lot in reference to Livingston’s Teslow grain elevator, but there’s no better word to describe it. As we drive into Livingston from the east side, we see it standing like a sentinel, welcoming us to town, reminding us of our agricultural and railroad heritage.

The elevator, a piece of Americana built somewhere around the 1940s or ’50s, has been the subject of countless photographs and artists’ paintings. And now it looks like it’s coming down. Engineers and architects working with Livingston developer Chris Salacinski — who recently bought the old Livingston HealthCare hospital buildings and is now in the process of acquiring the elevator from a Texas owner — is making plans to tear it down.

Not a surprise, really. The iconic — there’s that word again — structure is in dilapidated shape, our strong winds have blown parts of the roof off, and it’s become a safety hazard. 

Lots of folks on social media have said they would like to see the building saved. That would be a great thing. But so many obstacles stand in the way: 

• Time. The tear-down is set to begin in weeks, leaving little time to organize a campaign to save the building.

• Money. Saving and restoring the structure would surely cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. It’s doubtful Livingston residents would pony up with their taxes, and securing donations or a grant would — back to the first point about time — take forever.

• Ownership. The grain elevator has two owners — one who owns the building, and another, Montana Rail Link, which owns the land it stands on. Preservation would likely get hung up on that point alone.

• Historical integrity. If the building is to be preserved because it’s a historical building, say on the level of National Register of Historic Places, changes made in the past and present severe wind damage to its roof could possibly affect historical registry classification.

Unfortunately, not everything can be saved. Every city has to pick and choose based on limited resources and the value of its structures. It’s sad that the Teslow grain elevator, which has for decades watched over our town, might have to come down. But sometimes even icons run their course.

— Dwight Harriman
Enterprise News Editor