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Announcing the Winner of Heritage Ohio’s Preservation Month 2013 Photo Contest!

We’re pleased to announce the three finalists of our Preservation Month Photo Contest and need your help picking the winner!

To vote, click on each photo below to view it, select your favorite, and click vote.

Voting will continue through Friday, June 30. We’ll announce the winner of the 2013 Preservation Month Photo Contest on Monday, July 1.

With Ohio photographic fame and a Revitalize Ohio cover image on the line, the stakes are high! Good luck to our finalists!

Update June 28: Voting has almost closed. If you haven’t voted yet, make sure you vote for your favorite! We’ll announce the winner here on Monday!

Update July 1: Congratulations to Kirstin Krumsee, the winner of Heritage Ohio’s Preservation Month 2013 Photo Contest! The interior of the Victoria Opera House struck a nerve with our voters. Touted as the last remaining opera house in Fairfield County, the Victoria has very concerned citizens on its side, as it faces an uncertain future.


The Victoria Opera House, our winning entry

Thanks to everyone who voted for our three finalists. We’ll feature Kirstin’s winning image on a future cover of Revitalize Ohio.

Enter our Preservation Month photo contest!

Happy Preservation Month to you! Each May preservation organizations across the country, including Heritage Ohio, celebrate historic preservation with special events and activities. Our Preservation Month 2013 Photo Contest will focus on Saving Ohio’s Treasures. We want to see you with the places that matter in your life and the places you want to see preserved for future generations of Ohioans. We’ve created a special sign for you to hold in your photos, which you can print off from our website.

We’ll accept entries through Friday, May 24, choose our finalists, and open the online voting for the winner on May 27. Online voting closes on June 3 and we’ll announce the winning entry on June 10.

Some guidelines to remember:

  • The subject matter of the photo must be physically located in Ohio
  • Judging criteria for choosing photo finalists include originality, subject matter, and artistic merit
  • Photos should highlight historic locations that merit being preserved as an Ohio Treasure
  • We also encourage photos depicting historic buildings in use

Again this year, we’ll feature the winning entry on the cover of Revitalize Ohio, so here’s your chance for Ohio photographic fame. Good luck!

To submit your entries, click here.

Top Tips from the 2013 National Main Street Conference

Heritage Ohio staff and about 40 Ohioans, including Main Street Managers, and downtown revitalization advocates attended the conference, hosted this year in New Orleans.  Having just completed 5 days of inspirational and educational sessions, I thought I would share my top ten things learned, in no particular order:


1.      The JOBS Act of 2012 allows for locavesting and crowd funding, providing more options for financing businesses to create jobs.  There are many more platforms than I realized, and they are all slightly different, so finding the right match is important.


2.      The Entrepreneur – the term is thrown around so much we’ve begun to lose sight of who we mean. It can be anyone: a car mechanic, a gardener, a knitter, a computer geek. Think small, not so big. Make your downtown welcoming to anyone with a business idea; create an environment of support where business can thrive.


3.      Sponsorship – believe in the value of your program and its activities. Develop relationships with your sponsors with as much thought to the follow-up as to the ask.


4.      Streetscape projects can be challenging for downtown businesses.  Effective communication, frequent progress meetings and a creative attitude will get the community through the process.


5.      Business Enhancement Committees can create a Recruitment Manual to give them structure month after month to make the best use of your market analysis data and help you find the new businesses that belong in your community. Court your new business candidates.


6.      Fundraising isn’t so hard when everyone is able to share the story of your downtown.  Use your revitalization statistics. Tailor your story to the listener’s style.


7.      What is trending in 2013? Diversity, young talent, young women, deliberate spending, shortened commutes, health and wellness, main stream technology.


8.      Transportation – Reduce our car-centric decisions. Walkable communities are the future.  Healthy and hip, they attract the young people, your town’s future.


9.      Millennials (under 30 yrs.) – get them on your board and committees, or you may go the way of the dinosaurs.


10.    New Orleans is a party city.


Thousands of communities across the country are doing creative work in revitalizing their downtowns and neighborhood commercial centers.  You too can be part of this amazing process, it’s all about the can-do attitude.

Update to The Highway Beautification Act Needed?

A few weeks ago, I finally got around to watching Morgan Spurlock’s POM Wonderful Presents: The Greatest Movie Ever Sold. The most interesting part of the film was learning of Sao Paulo, Brazil’s Lei Cidade Limpa, or Clean City Law. The law went into effect in 2006, banning billboards, most outdoor posters, and bus advertising, as well as graffiti.

As an Ohioan, it’s certainly difficult to imagine living without the constant barrage of advertising. They seem to be everywhere. Depending on where you live and what you do with your day, you have the potential to see thousands of advertisements a day. In addition to being information overload, outdoor ads can become visual pollution if executed poorly. The Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was implemented to help curb some of the bad taste, but it clearly has some shortcomings. When I was helping my friend move to Colorado in 2005, I could not believe how many billboards I passed between St. Louis and Kansas City in Missouri. I would not be exaggerating in saying at least 500 in 3 hours of driving. Not exactly a scenic drive. While Missouri may be extremely friendly to billboard advertising, 4 states have banned them outright: Alaska, Hawaii, Maine, and Vermont. Others have mode of delivery bans. Arizona recently banned electronic billboards.

So, what effects have been seen in Sao Paulo? According to a 2011 survey, 70-percent of residents supported the ban. Graffiti and street art can still be seen in the poorer areas of the city and marketers still hope for relaxing of the law. Several media sources cited the need for building improvements. With the billboards, posters, and graffiti gone on many buildings, years of neglect are beginning to show and have presented the city with new challenges.

Personally, I wouldn’t miss billboards if they were banned in Ohio, even the one I saw in Cleveland a few weeks ago that informed me of current NFL scores as I drove by. It was possibly the most useful billboard I have ever encountered. Typically,  I look at a few dozen a day as I drive around Columbus, but I could only tell you the messages of a few that I find amusing. I think this is true of most people. We’ve learned to ignore them. And if such a ban were even discussed in the Ohio Assembly, business would be front and center in this discussion. As with any change, businesses will overreact, claiming doom and gloom, but they will survive. It may take some creative solutions, but marketers will still find ways to get information to you. It could even have a few positive benefits for businesses and customers, not to mention for the aesthetics of communities, the rural landscape, and nature.

What’s your take on outdoor advertising? What, if anything, would you like to see changed?

Kickstarting Preservation

As we all know, funding and fundraising for preservation projects can be both difficult and frustrating at times. While traditional avenues may still bring in a larger sum, crowdfunding websites may be a great place to get your fundraising campaign started and to hone your message to potential investors. By far the most popular crowdfunding site is Kickstarter was launched in 2009 to fund creative projects such as artwork, music projects, and other creative endeavors. Soon after, a multitude of projects from every imaginable facet of creativity came pouring into the site. According to the website, over 30,000 projects have been funded by over 2.5 million people to the tune of $3.5 million and counting.

I have participated in a few Kickstarter projects, an even split between products I wanted to invest in and receive, and philanthropic donations. While visiting one of my favorite blogs, I saw a story for a Kickstarter proposal for the Blue Mouse Theatre in Tacoma, Washington. I wondered how common preservation projects were on Kickstarter. After playing around with different search keywords, I found several successfully funded preservation-related projects. I’ve selected a few for variety’s sake, but I suggest you take a look for yourself.

If you’re thinking about trying a crowdfunded campaign, I have a few suggestions for you. First and foremost, do some research. See if there are similar projects out there and talk to those fundraisers about their experience with it. Find out what they would have done differently. Also, take a look around the web and get some books on the topic. It’s a relatively new concept, so there are plenty of new books coming out that address crowdfunding and similar topics. One I read recently was Makers by former Wired Magazine Editor-in-Chief Chris Anderson. The book deals with a lot of topics that revolve around small-batch manufacturing, which Anderson sees as a major future component of manufacturing. One chapter is devoted to Kickstarter and the experiences of some inventors with the site. The material is very translatable for any preservation project.

Second, have a great story to tell. In my opinion, there is nothing more important than having a good story to pitch to these potential investors. I would wager that even the most amazing gadgets funded at hundreds of thousands of dollars on Kickstarter won people over with the amazing stories told in the video posted on each project page. So, as a preservationist, you’re going to want to tell the history of the building, what it means to the community, why it needs to be saved, and what you want to happen with the structure. In addition, this is a great way to get feedback on your story. When your project is funded, ask your funders about your story and what else they would have liked to have heard.

A major component of Kickstarter is the tiered-rewards system for backers. You set the values and rewards. I strongly urge you to make them count while being fulfillable. Often, projects promise the world, get a lot of money, and then realize they have to fulfill what they promised. So keep them intriguing, reasonable for the amounts, and something you want to offer. A night of tours might be much more rewarding to you and the donor than an agonizing marathon session of personalized, handwritten thank you notes.

Finally, make your goal achievable. Nothing will doom your project faster than aiming for the moon. You may need $100,000 to preserve the windows of a historic building, but wouldn’t it be nicer to get the $10,000 from Kickstarter and plan the rest of your fundraising strategy around that momentum. Remember, it’s an all or nothing game with most crowdfunding sites, so plan appropriately.

Combating Vacant Property Workshop

If you missed the vacant property workshop or you’d like to review the materials, you can find them all below.


The Legal Approach to Nuisance Property – Matthew Yourkvitch, esq.


The Cost of Vacant Property & Solutions You Can Use – Alison Goebel, Ph.D.


Sandusky’s Vacant Property Registry – Sandusky Fire Inspector Stephen Rucker


Painesville Vacant Property Registry – Doug Lewis and Cathy Bieterman


“Scene” Anything Good Lately?

Having been out a little over a year, Scene in Ohio is one of many user-generated tourist tools offered by TourismOhio. On the Scene in Ohio website, users can explore venues that have appeared on TV or in a movie, the famous actors and actresses from Ohio, and plenty of trivia for the cinephile.

In addition to visiting the sites listed on the website, I think the best part of Scene in Ohio is it invites Ohioans to share their local knowledge and enhance the experience of the website. From the early days of Vaudeville and silent film to today’s blockbusters and foodie television shows, you’ll find plenty of places to visit around the state; to experience for yourself why these films and shows were filmed there.

There are plenty of amazing experiences to be had in Ohio this fall. TourismOhio also offers a collection of Grim Attractions, just in time for Halloween. You can also take advantage of the fall colors peaking now with one of their 2012 Autumn Adventures. Remember to plan an afternoon stop in one of Ohio’s Main Street communities to get in some holiday shopping and a great meal too.

Me, I’m going to plan a trip to the A Christmas Story House in Cleveland. It was my favorite movie when I was a child! “Fra-gee-lay. That must be Italian.”

Ohio Main Street Program Membership Update Webinar

If you were unable to attend our recent webinars on the changes to the Ohio Main Street Program beginning in 2013, you can view the October 17th webinar below. Just click the link and it’ll take you to the recording. Please feel free to share these resources with anyone in your community. If you have any questions, please send them to Jeff Siegler at or by calling 614.258.6200.


Presentation PDF


Recording of Webinar

Old World v. New World

I’m in London this week, and miraculously there is not rain in the forecast the entire time I’m here! Part of my vacation assignment was to write something on our blog about my trip. On the long flight from Dallas to London, I wondered what exactly I was going to write about. London offers a lot interesting topics to cover over preservation, revitalization, or whatever else flitted into my sleep-deprived head. But once I landed and made my way to Tower Hill and my hotel, my mind wandered into familiar territory for preservationists: Why does Europe seem to be more capable of reusing its older buildings and resisting the urge to tear them down?



These are more musings to myself than hardened fact, but here are a few thoughts I’ve had over the past few days:

  • Some people back home say Americans are too progress oriented, but so are Londoners. Looking just around the Tower Hill area, there are several skyscrapers and plenty of modern buildings. But there are also plenty of older buildings as well. Some have been completely remodeled, while others look virtually untouched since they were constructed over a century ago. I think many of the banking sector employees across from my hotel would definitively say London is progress-minded, just like themselves. But I also think they have an appreciation for the past that is part of their cultural identities, both the the native Britons and the many foreigners who now call London home.
  • On the topic of national/community identity, it is really interesting how Americans are unique in this realm, and I do think this may factor into our views of our own communities. I remember long ago, when I was an undergraduate, I was having a conversation with a Belgian girl. She asked me where my family was from. Like any American, I rattled off the list of countries where my ancestors hailed from and she immediately scoffed at the notion that I was anything other than an American. What she wanted to know was if I was from Ohio, or did my family lives somewhere else in The US. She hated that Americans tried to keep their heritage attached to places other than America, Europeans would never do such a thing (her opinion). She does make a good point though. Why do we as Americans hold multiple cultural heritages? Many of us have not met our family members who emigrated and came to America. Even more of us have never visited the country of family origin. But it remains important to us. [Pure speculation here] I wonder if/when Americans do embrace being “just American” with no ethic hyphens attached, will Americans develop a deeper appreciation for the cultural heritage of America? The buildings that defined our golden ages? There’s no way of knowing, but I think when we become “just American”, we’re going to see a growing importance in our cultural history. More than just we’re #1.
  • One myth I hear frequently is “We tear our buildings down. In Europe, that doesn’t happen”. While it’s a generalization, I think it affects how American preservationists view the two worlds. Having been in London a for a little over a day, clearly things have been torn down and are going to be as the city continues to grow. A city this old has had plenty of fires, misguided development ventures (None more than those stucco and brick apartments near Hammersmith I saw off the Piccadilly line. Absolutely horrific.), and the like. We romanticize a certain period of time, have architectural styles we all love and others we wouldn’t miss. While London may have a few buildings that are a thousand years old, we have to look at how many of them survived, why, and what replaced the ones which did not. I often wonder if we, the old building lovers of America, would be so angry with old buildings being torn down if it were replaced with a building that was architecturally stunning, constructed with quality materials, and was meant to last more than 20 years? I think we would, but maybe we’d be a little less angry at what the suggested replacement was.

Now I’ve left out a lot of this discussion. Politics, funding, economic conditions, etc. Preservation and reuse of historic buildings is an amazingly complex issue, but we should be fortunate enough to be able to tackle it. So, what do you see as the most important root causation to our preservation issues in America? Let’s us know below in the comments section.

I’ll be share plenty of photos of my visit to London on Heritage Ohio’s Facebook page. Look for them to start appearing in the next few days.



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