Monday, July 11, 2011

Welcome to MPH: Making Preservation Happen

Welcome to MPH, Making Preservation Happen. Why here? why now? The answer is simple. Cincinnati preservation is at a critical stage. The Gamble House hangs in the balance, we have lost key properties in OTR due to the Cincinnati Public Schools, Euclid street is history. In the last 6 years the City of Cincinnati has demoed over 600 properties with thousands on a 'doomed list' with either a VBML (Vacant Building Maintenance License) or a condemn order on them.

Over 100 properties head for  'sham hearing' this Friday called by our Urban Conservator who has neither the qualifications or desire to advocate for real preservation. The South Fairmount business/residential district is in danger of demolition due to a glorified drainage ditch by MSD. Expansion by Universities, hospitals and private developers threaten our historic architecture. We have a city leadership that does not understand the value of historic preservation as an Economic Development tool. A city that sees CDBG funds, Community DEVELOPMENT block grant monies as Community DEMOLITION Block Grant Funds and payroll funding source.

Saying "please can we save this or that property",  does not work. the City of Cincinnati runs over history because they can. There is no real preservation advocacy or leadership as there is in other cities. Certainly CPA does what it can but with a staff of four, minimal budget and a focus on Preservation education we can not expect them to stand up for Preservation in a way that it is really needed.

At the same time we have small successes . The Gamble House stands, for the moment, because of people like Bob Prokop and the grass roots save the Gamble House group. Properties are getting into Preservation minded hand thanks to groups like OTRADOPT. Knox Hill is turning their neighborhood around through Preservation advocacy. Young people are entering Preservation everyday as there is a new Urbanist  Movement back downtown. All over town, people are restoring homes. We need MORE of that. New ideas and new energy!

However there is no connection between these groups and their is no solidarity when an issue hits one neighborhood, Cincinnati MPH is start at making that happen.

How? By acting as a preservation resource center. A place where local preservationists can share what they are doing in their neighborhood. I do not expect to write this blog single handed. What I expect is your help. Help with stories about what is going on in your neighborhood. What are you doing right and what are your obstacles. Who is making a difference in Preservation in your community? We will also cover news from other cities and see if we can learn from and adapt what they are doing to our city. We will regularly present Preservation opportunities, homes that need an advocate. We will partner with the business community and corporations locally to start "small focus" projects that will create interest in historic neighborhoods long forgotten. Our goal will be to bring people back to Cincinnati and use our Historic Architecture to make Cincinnati a real destination.

This blog, by itself, will not make preservation happen, however it can be a starting point. We need to start a real conversation among those of us who are actually doing something  about the direction of preservation in this city. Clearly we can identify obstacles like the VBML and our 'broken section 106 review system as key issues. We also must do a  better job of advocacy and education to the community and  to the city.

We also need to create some new systems for Preservation in this city. things like a Preservation Action Response Team (P.A.R.T) to get the word out when these preservation emergencies arise and coordinate a grass roots effort and coordinate with the media to raise public awarness  to put pressure on city leaders to stop demolition. We will need to form a coalition of urban historic neighborhoods  and block clubs to act as one voice for preservation, a unified voice.

Ultimately we need a take charge, take no prisoners, preservation group that will fight to save our history, not just 'pick and choose' which battles they think they can win. By fighting vigorously for preservation, as other cities do, we will make the city realize that if they choose to demo they will have fight EVERY TIME. Those fights take time and resources at the city and monies they do not have. Eventually the first choice of the city will not be the bulldozer.

Some short term goals, a website within 30 days, and  a facebook page. Longer term goals a Preservation based organization.that will make  a real difference and save our history before its in landfill and Cincinnati is just another faceless city

Initially this blog will not be a daily blog, how much content is here will depend in part of you. My other blog , Victorian Antiquities and Design will focus on its core restoration and period design. This blog will focus on providing a mechanism to Make Preservation Happen.

Your thoughts, your ideas, and your help, will make this happen, as always you can contact me direct at

1 comment:

  1. A huge congratulations to the new Cincinnati MPH from Ohio's original statewide preservation organization. The concept is fantastic, and deserves to succeed. Please let us know if we can help in any way -- and be sure to check out Preservation Connection:Cincinnati, coming on August 12!

    Preservation Ohio