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2008 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award Recipients

Preservation Merit Award to Columbus City Schools, Columbus Board of Education, and the Columbus Landmarks Foundation for their leadership and collaboration in identifying and rehabilitating the city's historic school buildings as 21st century learning environments while preserving their historic character.

As Columbus City Schools set out to create a master plan for 144 schools in the district and decide which ones to keep, replace, or close, Columbus Landmarks Foundation worked proactively with the district to provide information on the history, architecture, and significance of Columbus schools built between 1870 and 1960, and offered help in solving design issues affecting reuse of the buildings, many of which are neighborhood landmarks. At the same time, Landmarks volunteers met one-on-one with Board of Education members and OEA officials to share information on preserving and reusing historic schools, and also participated in public meetings and a community committee the district formed to gather input on the master plan. Columbus City Schools asked Landmarks to review a list of 56 schools that the Ohio School Facilities Commission had identified as “historic” in their initial review of the district’s facilities. A Landmarks team of volunteer historians and preservation professionals grouped the 56 schools according to their original use, further dividing each type by age. They created fact sheets for each one, including address, architect, dates of construction and additions, and key points from the OSFC assessment. They researched broad themes and events in the history of Columbus City Schools, as well as information on architects, styles, building types, and innovations associated with the district. Then they visited each building, noting details, site features, and alterations, including the placement, size, materials, and overall impact of additions. Using this information, they categorized the 56 schools into four groups, from those with more of the aspects that Landmarks had identified as significant, to those with less. Columbus City Schools relied upon this report as one of the considerations in compiling its master plan. Next, Landmarks put together a team of architects, engineers, and preservation professionals to assess the reuse potential of four schools. The goal was to revisit the Ohio School Facilities Commission assessments to see whether all of the costs of new construction had been considered, and whether creative solutions might reduce the cost of reusing the buildings. The study examined four schools of the 1890s to 1920s, with the thought that solutions to their issues could be applied to other similar ones. All of the design professionals conducting this evaluation volunteered their time and expertise. A significant outcome of the study was that Columbus City Schools revised its initial master plan to preserve and reuse 10 more schools. In November 2002 voters passed a bond levy funding the first two phases of the master plan. Funding has also come from the Ohio School Facilities Commission. Eight historic schools have been renovated under Phases 1 and 2. The result is state-of-the-art 21st century facilities that still have the character that sets older schools apart. On the Fort Hayes campus, they’re even converting buildings that weren’t schools into schools. The projects show the creative, innovative approach to developing educational facilities championed by Columbus City Schools. The district has shown noteworthy leadership and initiative in planning for, and undertaking, preservation and renovation of a majority of its historic schools. Columbus Landmarks Foundation has shown a proactive approach in working with school administrators and design-and-preservation professionals to offer solutions.

2008 Awards 
Presentation Image. Click to view slides of the awards presentation.

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