In Annapolis, Md., dominated by its Historic Preservation Commission, a plan for an outdoor art display has sparked a huge controversy.
The flashpoint is the walls around a small downtown parking lot, one of six sites Artwalk is considering. The project would mark the 300th anniversary of Annapolis' incorporation as a city.
Those planning Artwalk see cracked, graffiti-covered concrete suitable for a display of blown-up photographs of the Annapolis scene. The preservationists see something else.
"I can read a whole lot of history in the wall," William Schmickle, who heads the preservation commission, told the Washington Post.
Annapolis, founded in the mid-17th century and given its current name in 1694 shortly after it became capital of the colony of Maryland, is one of the oldest cities in the United States. Thanks largely to its militant preservationists, it also has one of the largest collections of old buildings lining its narrow downtown streets.
The Artwalk group remembers that a few years ago the commission successfully quashed a plan to hang baskets of flowers from the reproduction 1826 lampposts downtown on the grounds that there were no flowers in 1826.
"You have to understand, we're walking on eggshells here," said Charles Walsh, a retired lawyer who is leading Artwalk.