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Learning from Lewisburg
10. The past and the future
23 Walk back to 8th St., turn right and walk to the cemetery:
  The large town cemetery which, like most town cemeteries of either the 1820s AD or 600s BC, was built at the far periphery, just outside of the town. Most ancient cemeteries that were engulfed like this vanished under squatter housing.
24 Walk back through the cemetery on the small road which continues the line of 8th St.:
  Read some of the tomb stones — the town was founded in 1785, so some of these folks were first generation residents. The general pattern in the cemetery is, not surprisingly, that the oldest stones are nearest town, with late 19th C. stone and monuments dominant at the hilltop, and 20th C. stones spread out toward the highway.
Reading a cemetery as a cultural landscape
  While respecting the fact that every stone represents some person's great sadness, a observer can see an interesting parallel between the styles of the stones, and the style of the houses that were being built at those some periods.
  Folk and traditional styles dominate in the lower sections of the cemetery closest to town. Hand-cut local slate finished in traditional German style or venerable English spiritual symbols reflect the conformist and egalitarian influences upon early settlers.
  "National" styles predominate in the middle reaches of the plot that was occupied in the years following the Civil War. These monuments clearly reflect the families' efforts to demonstrate personal power and prestige. Mr. Himmelreich chose the same stocky Greek Revival style for his stone (left) as for the Presbyterian church building on Market St. that bears his name (right).
  In the 20th Century style, visible in the furthest corner of the cemetery, the monuments tell individual stories outside of the public symbolic language that constrained earlier generations.
25 Return to the bottom of campus
  Note additional evidence of the re-orientation of Bucknell away from the river and toward the highway, as we foretold at Roberts:
 
The functional "front" of campus, formerly the elegant brick face of Roberts Hall, is now rows of cars. Automobile culture has grown to dominate and despoil campus, just as it overwhelmed most small towns in America.
  A closer look shows how Bucknell is moving away from Lewisburg and toward its own vision of a place in the larger world ... even as the town becomes increasingly dependent of the university for its definition.
  Bucknell has turned its back on the town rather dramatically with the stark, unfinished hind end (left) of the otherwise elegant (and still Greek revival in finish) new athletics building (right).
  Bucknell costs as much per year to attend as the total income of 43% of the families in the surrounding counties. Attendance at Bucknell, once the modest training for future Baptist ministers, is now a prestige good like a Lexus, a good that is substantially unconnected to the local cultural and economic realities. Justifying this cost requires continual investment by the university in amenities and infrastructure: the old academic upper campus is juxtaposed against expensive new leisure center of the lower campus.
  Bucknell now 'markets' — with explicit in the use of that word — itself to a national and international pool of potential students. Lewisburg is safe and scenic, which parents like, but the perceived liabilities of geographic isolation and a lack of nightlife for the students is seen as significant public relations problem for the university.
Summary: the inversion of the university-town relationship.
  We started the tour by examining how the new little university attached itself to and adapted to the local town in the mid-Nineteenth Century. In the intervening century-and-a-half the influence of the university, nationally known and extremely well funded, has overwhelmed the small town, thoroughly de-industrialized and now commercially aberrant compared to the rest of the towns in the central Susquehanna valley. This has inverted the relationship between the two. This relationship that started in 1846 with the naming of "The University at Lewisburg" has shifted over the years; Lewisburg finding its success today as "The Town at Bucknell". 
< Previous/ 0 Main/ 1 Campus/ 2 Connections/ 3 Susquehanna/ 4 Preindustial town/
5 Read a house
/ 6 Deindustrializing/ 7 Downtown/ 8 Lower town/ 9 Highway/ 10 Past & future / Next>