Saving Historic Property--Parma Heights Library

What is the difference between structures that are unique to a city’s history, and those that are simply old?   The Parma Heights Library is a great candidate to be put on the National Register of Historic Places. Nonprofit historical sites define these sites as having architectural and historical value and relevance. The key word here is “relevance.” The Parma Heights Library for the past 50+ years provides not just a link to the past, but in this case, artistic and architectural beauty in the present. Once a structure is razed or removed, that link is gone forever. The cost of saving and maintaining old buildings, though, cannot be ignored at a time budgets are being pulled in more directions that ever. 

Parma Heights was the first municipality in Ohio to pass a bond issue specifically for the construction of a library. The entire process took nearly two years, forged new legal ground in the state, and became the template for other municipalities who wanted libraries in their communities.

In 1960, Parma Heights residents passed a $150,000 bond issue for the construction of the library building. However, at the time, the state statues did not allow a city to own and operate a library. An agreement was reached with the Cuyahoga County Library Board, and they accepted the building on a lease basis with the provision that the County Library operated the branch. Since this type of arrangement set a precedent, the bond counsel would not approve the construction bonds for public sale until the Parma Heights pension Funds agreed to purchase the bonds as an investment. This makes the Parma Heights library a significant part of the history of the State of Ohio.

Saving any older structure will require active pursuit of grants, which the Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit Program is prepared to do. There is a difference between a building that speaks to Parma Heights' proud past and one that just sits there for decades or more. It is hoped the city and the Ohio's Historic Preservation groups and Preservation Trusts can work together to identify how to manage irreplaceable history with economic reality, so that usable buildings can not only represent what Parma Heights once was, but what it is now, and will be.

Emery Pinter

Worked in marketing research, marketing, and was a Librarian and Bookstore Manager. Advocate for small businesses.  Member of the Dig, Plant, and Grow Garden Club and 2ND Fridays Parma Heights

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Volume 15, Issue 5, Posted 11:01 AM, 05.01.2023