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Is Possession Nine Tenths of the Law?

As an organization, the Methuen Historical Society has a Mission Statement that reflects our commitment to maintaining and protecting the rich historical character of our city. We accomplish this through advocacy, outreach and education. Our greatest goal is to promote preservation of the legacy that our history has presented our community in the form of buildings and the stories of our past. We also honor the sacrifices made by those that have built the foundation of this great city…once known as the town of Methuen!

For some of those among us, these are considered ‘lofty goals’. For others these goals are considered a threat to individual rights of ‘homeownership’. In many ways, one can consider the overreaching of municipal and governmental ordinances on properties and artifacts as intrusive. In fact, there is a libertarian philosophy that substantiates this attitude which is often vocalized as, “ No one is going to tell ME what I can and can’t do with my property and possessions!”…

I too struggle with the juxtaposition of philosophies that presents what appears to be an invasion of one’s rights as a homeowner, or landowner, or even a keeper of the past trinkets and treasures…after all…doesn’t the saying go, ‘Possession is nine-tenths of the law”! My self-described “struggle” falls away to my deep-seated understanding that ‘ownership’ is a fallacy! The fact that I grasp, with a full and complete understanding, that nothing is forever! Now this is not a philosophical waxing and waning. It is however a pragmatic approach to developing a greater appreciation for all of the things that we hold onto as ‘near and dear’! It is important as well to understand that communities suffer when its inhabitants fail to honor its history and strive for preservation of its legacy.

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