WATERVILLE — Author and historian Earl Smith discussed the sweeping history of the city and Colby College during a talk Thursday night, while also criticizing the loss of historic buildings and calling on the community to preserve its past even as looks to revitalize its downtown with new development.

Morning Sentinel reporter Amy Calder interviewed Smith in the Ostrove Auditorium at the Diamond Building at Colby College in Waterville as part of the “Community Voices” series, hosted by the college and organized by the newspaper.

Smith discussed his most recent book, “Head of Falls,” a work of historical fiction about a teenage Lebanese girl growing up on the riverfront in 1950s Waterville.

Smith is the former dean of Colby College and has published four other books, including a history of the school.

During the talk, Smith also revealed that he’s working on a new book detailing the complete history of Waterville and that he has at least another year or so before he’ll finish research and writing.

He also bemoaned what he called the lost sense of history and touted the virtues of historic preservation because “there are some places that everyone owns … some places are too precious and are owned by everybody.”

“I sometimes play the game of ‘What if?'” Smith said, wondering “what if” Waterville community leaders had saved historic buildings in town that had been demolished or other items of this city’s manufacturing history.

“We can’t keep doing this because we won’t have anything to show,” Smith said, drawing applause.