The mood was festive on Saturday, March 12, as Board members and guests of Preservation Ohio joined for a special Annual Meeting. This feeling prevailed throughout the morning even though Board members from northeast Ohio were unable to attend because of Friday night’s snowfall.
The occasion was the 40th Anniversary for the organization, which was founded as the Ohio Preservation Alliance in May, 1982. Outgoing Board President Marian Vance welcomed those gathered at Social on Main, a meeting venue in downtown Mansfield created by Downtown Mansfield, Inc..
Preservation Ohio, one of approximately 45 statewide historic preservation organizations in the country, was established by leaders in Ohio’s history and preservation community. It’s first meeting took place in the Ohio Departments of State Building in Columbus, now home to the Ohio Supreme Court.
Justice Thomas Moyer, then on the Court and later Ohio’s Chief Justice, was an original Trustee. The three founders of OPA were Bob Gaede, known as the father of preservation in Cleveland and Cuyahoga County; Franklin Conway, a preservation consultant from Chillicothe; and architect Bruce Goetzman of Cincinnati, who remains a part of the Board of Directors four decades later.
Speakers included Preservation Ohio Executive Director Thomas Palmer and featured speaker John Bry, Program Coordinator for the country’s only county-based Main Street Coordinating Program in Oakland County, Michigan.
Palmer reviewed PO’s organizational story. Highlights have included having an ongoing role in the rescue of important historic resources, including Frank Lloyd Wright’s only Prairie Style commission in Ohio, the Westcott House in Springfield; the Anthony Wayne Hotel in Hamilton, and the Columbus Athenaeum. Significant losses in the last 40 years were also mentioned, chief among which was the Seneca County Courthouse in Tiffin.
There was also a review of site visits from the last two years to assist local preservation efforts in Arcanum, Columbus, Mansfield, Crestline, Ashland, Richwood, Cuyahoga Falls, Cleveland, and elsewhere in Ohio.
Speaker John Bry emphasized his Ohio connections during his remarks. While currently working in Oakland County (north of Detroit) where he heads a staff of 6 overseeing the work of 27 Main Street programs in places like Pontiac and Rochester, Bry is originally from Indiana. He holds degrees from Ball State University and Southeast Missouri State University.
Bry’s Ohio roots center on the southwest Ohio city of Urbana, where he was a former Main Street Manager. Both a decade ago and in more recent years, John was key to what has turned out to be a preservation success story in the transformation of the Douglas Inn and two replaced historic school buildings into housing. He and his partner now own and are working to renovate several local houses which help to tell various aspects of Urbana history.
At the end of the event, outgoing President Marian Vance was thanked for her years of service. New Board President Larry Frimerman takes the helm for the first time.