50 years of valuing historic preservation


Fifty years ago, the best thing many people could think of to do with a vacant, abandoned or underused building was to tear it down. Today, Ohioans recognize historic places as valuable resources, essential to understanding our shared story. People are finding innovative ways to repurpose our old warehouses, factories, houses, schools, barns and commercial buildings.

Historic preservation has become economic development, and the National Historic Preservation Act makes it possible. This change in thinking is not a coincidence.

After World War II, the nation began changing quickly: suburbs sprang up to house returning veterans and their growing families; interstate highways pushed through city neighborhoods and rolling countryside; and Urban Renewal — a program of the 1950s-70s that demolished large areas of some cities for new development — was considered forward-thinking.

In response to this rampant development that erased many historic places, on Oct. 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Historic Preservation Act. It made preserving historic, architectural and archaeological resources whenever possible federal policy.

Since 1966, more than 3,800 properties and historic districts in Ohio have been added to the National Register of Historic Places, recognizing their significance. Ohio, the 36th-largest state geographically, boasts the third-highest number of listings — showing how much Ohioans care about protecting the fabric of our communities for future generations.

Imagine an Ohio without Severance Hall, the grand Art Deco building that’s home to the Cleveland Orchestra; or without the spectacular American Indian earthworks built by Ohio’s native people thousands of years ago. Dayton’s Paul Laurence Dunbar home highlights the literary triumphs of this son of former slaves, and showcases the power of determination. The National Historic Preservation Act has made it possible for us to preserve these rich cultural resources. These are the places that define our neighborhoods and communities, and help us to better understand where we came from.

Tax credits made possible through the National Historic Preservation Act breathe new life into historic neighborhoods, spurring economic development and reinvestment in historic places. The federal and state historic tax credit programs, administered in Ohio by the Ohio History Connection and the Ohio Development Services Agency, have stimulated over $3.9 billion in investment in historic buildings in 61 counties. Completed Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credit projects have created more than 8,000 construction jobs and 10,000 permanent jobs.

Fifty years after the National Historic Preservation Act, Ohio ranks among our nation’s leading states in preserving historic places, thanks to combined national, state and local efforts.

To celebrate this big anniversary, the Ohio History Connection is sponsoring Ohio Open Doors Sept. 9-18, when over 100 of our historic buildings and landmarks will be open for special tours and talks, all free to the public. You can discover the history and uniqueness of Ohio’s most treasured places and explore the impact of half a century of historic preservation.

You can learn more about Ohio Open Doors and see all participants by visiting ohiohistory.org/opendoors.

Burt Logan is Ohio History Connection Executive Director and CEO of the State Historic Preservation Office.


Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Opinion

PERSPECTIVE: The magic of Thanksgiving togetherness

The calm before the rush of Thanksgiving preparation invites reflection. My mom, although extraordinary in matters of the heart, was really not a very good cook. I’m the first to admit her Thanksgiving turkey was a tad dry, and the cauliflower-au-gratin was s bit more watery than Velveeta cheesy. Yet she managed to create the best of what Thanksgiving...
Opinion: Alabama rolls toward a high-stakes skirmish

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. — But for the bomb, the four would be in their 60s, probably grandmothers. Three were 14 and one was 11 in 1963 when the blast killed them in the 16th Street Baptist Church, which is four blocks from the law office of Doug Jones, who then was 9. He was born in May 1954, 13 days before the U.S. Supreme Court’s Brown v. Board...
Opinion: You’re not worried enough about judicial appointments

You are not worried enough. Granted, that may seem a nonsensical claim. Assuming you don’t belong to the tinfoil hat brigades who consider Donald Trump the greatest thing to hit 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue since Abraham Lincoln left for the theater, you’ve spent the last year worrying as much as you know how. There has certainly been no shortage...
COMMENTARY: What do you with a problem like Roy Moore?
COMMENTARY: What do you with a problem like Roy Moore?

The allegations and evidence against Senate candidate Roy Moore are piling up to the point of indefensibility. To the Washington Post’s extensively sourced story accusing him of misconduct toward girls as young as 14, the past few days have added news of an additional accuser and a report from a retired police officer saying Moore was unofficially...
Opinion: Reining in the rogue royal of Arabia

If the crown prince of Saudi Arabia has in mind a war with Iran, President Trump should disabuse his royal highness of any notion that America would be doing his fighting for him. Mohammed bin Salman, or MBS, the 32-year-old son of the aging and ailing King Salman, is making too many enemies for his own good, or for ours. Pledging to Westernize Saudi...
More Stories