May Is Preservation Month. What Building Matters In Your City?

For the past 50 years, the month of May has been a time to celebrate and promote historic preservation for its many benefits to our communities.Those benefits are expansive and include social, economic, and environmental benefits. Historic preservation is the act of preserving or protecting a building, object, or other artifacts of historical significance. In the United States, the preservation movement has a long and rich history. The preservation movement began in the 1850s when the Mount Vernon Ladies Association saved George Washington’s homestead. A hallmark of the movement is the passage of the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, which set up federal policies and acknowledged the importance of preserving this nation’s heritage. 

Historic preservation helps us to understand ourselves. Who we are, where we came from, and the stories associated with how we got there. Caring for those buildings in a sensitive manner ensures that they can assist future generations in understanding their place, too. While many people presume that historic preservation focuses only on buildings, it really encompasses so much more than that. It is about people and how they benefit from their interaction with historic built environments. 

Historic preservation helps to make communities that attract residents and tourists alike. Data from all over the country shows that well-preserved and rehabilitated historic neighborhoods are places where people choose to spend time and money. They are visually attractive, architecturally interesting like the Parma Heights library. Neighborhoods that are designated for their historic significance typically experience higher demand for residential housing. During economic downturns, they prove more resilient and recover more quickly than neighborhoods that are not designated. They are also sought out by the types of knowledge-based workers communities seek to attract. 

Historic preservation increases property values. Decades of research has been collected to support this conclusion all over the United States. Historic preservation activity, including land-use regulation, maintains property values but most often it increases them. Investments are less risky in areas where regulations provide standards, and that tends to attract more investment over time.

Historic preservation is an act of sustainability. It promotes the re-use of existing resources and acknowledges the environmental investment that was initially made. When the new Parma Heights library is built, the 60+ year old structure can become the home of a Historical Society, teen center, senior activities center, or art mecca. Often the materials used in construction, particularly old-growth lumber, are superior to what is available today. A repurposed library turned out to be the perfect home for the new Middleburg Hts., Police station. With 90% of the original building still standing, costs were cut from $12 million to $6 million. New buildings often require new land, new materials, energy to transport them, and sometimes even energy to demolish and dispose of existing buildings. Parma Heights needs a call to action that should be answered by residents, community groups, nonprofits, local and state governments. Because of its historical and architectural significance, the Parma Heights library should be repurposed.   Please sign  "Save the Parma Heights Library and Make it a Historical Site".    

"Old ideas can sometimes use new buildings.  New ideas must use old buildings."  --Jane Jacobs

Emery Pinter

Worked in marketing research, marketing, and was a Librarian and Bookstore Manager. Advocate for small businesses.  Member of the Parma Heights Front Porch Forum, 2ND Fridays Parma Heights, the Dig, Plant, and Grow Garden Club, and believes preserving historical assets and buildings are a key ingredient to any city. 

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Volume 16, Issue 5, Posted 12:20 AM, 05.01.2024