Life is often a series of chances—chance encounters and chance decisions that in retrospect become a life’s story. And that is how Pat Eldredge describes her life’s journey that includes decades of hard work and leadership in historic preservation.
It began with an innate fascination with old buildings and Pat’s Aunt Amy, who taught Pat how to set a proper tea tray. This skill in a “young person” so pleased the elderly owner of a mansion in Morristown, New Jersey, that she agreed in 1971 to leave her home to the local historical society only if Pat Eldredge, then serving on the organization’s board, were in charge of converting it to a house museum.
To gain knowledge for this project, Pat enrolled in the still-new architectural preservation program at Columbia University’s School of Architecture, then under the leadership of James Marston Fitch—a central figure in the U.S. preservation movement. For her required paper, Pat chose the subject of 19th century exterior paint colors, inspired by a book her husband Bill located in a building at the Sherwin Williams Company, where he worked.
The Eldredges were transferred to the Cleveland area in 1971 and Pat was soon involved in local history and historic preservation through volunteer service in the Hudson Heritage Association and the Hudson Architectural Review Board, writing booklets about the architectural history of Hudson downtown buildings, assisting with the National Register nomination of the Hudson Historic District and working on the first architectural guidelines for Hudson. Her work in Hudson continued through more recent years as Pat became involved with the city in developing strategies to keep commercial development in Hudson’s downtown.
In addition to her involvement with the Hudson Heritage Association, Pat helped found Ohio’s first statewide historic preservation organization, now known as Preservation Ohio, in the mid-1980s, and was an active member of the board of the Cleveland Restoration Society for 15 years, helping the organization make giant strides in promoting historic preservation in the entire greater Cleveland area. She worked closely on rehabilitation and decoration of the group’s headquarters, the Sarah Benedict House. In more recent years Pat served on the Board of Trustees of the Ohio Historical Society and was president of the board in from 2005-2006.
And, remember the research paper on paint colors? That led to a part- time job at Sherwin Williams to inventory and organize the books, magazines and color cards, dating to 1870, that had been saved over the years - and that led to a 13-year career as archivist of the company. During this time Pat chose colors for the company’s two collections of authentic historic preservation colors. As a result, Pat became a prominent national color conservator and consultant.
Pat Eldredge is one of the pioneers in Historic Preservation in Ohio. Her knowledge, contributions, and her generous spirit have left their imprint in the preservation of the Ohio’s heritage.
for a list of past Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.
to return to the list of 2011 Ohio Historic Preservation Office Award recipients.