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.
to return to the list of 2008 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.
for a list of past Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.