More than 225 city planners, architects, downtown managers, and others are to be in Toledo Wednesday and Thursday for Heritage Ohio's annual revitalization conference dubbed "Vital Places, Vibrant Communities."
"One of the best ways to describe Heritage Ohio is we are a revitalization organization based on preservation," said Joyce Barrett, executive director. "I think there's so much misperception about historic preservation. It's really about revitalizing communities."
During the conference, which is to be at the Grand Plaza Hotel downtown, attendees will have the opportunity to take walking tours of the Old West End, the Warehouse District, and the downtown and attend a variety of workshops focused on historic preservation. A group of managers who work with Heritage Ohio's Main Street program also are scheduled to tour the Vistula Historic District just north of downtown today.
Linda Detrick-Jaegly, economic development and marketing manager for United North, said the Main Street managers will hear about Vistula and how it plans to use Lucas County's land bank program to preserve and restore historic properties in the neighborhood.
"We're doing this because they're holding this conference right next door at the [Grand] Plaza," Ms. Detrick-Jaegly said. "We work real hard so people don't forget about the Vistula Historic District. It is Toledo's oldest neighborhood. It was here before the city of Toledo was here."
"I think it has the most challenges of any historic district in Toledo," she added. " … all of these people are preservation specialists … they might be able to give us some ideas too. I really believe in networking."
Stephanie Meeks, president and chief executive officer of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is to welcome attendees to the conference at 9:30 a.m. Wednesday.
The keynote speaker for the event is to be Eric Allison, founder and coordinator of the graduate historic preservation program and adjunct associate professor in the school of architecture at Pratt Institute. Mr. Allison is to speak at noon Wednesday about revitalizing cities through historic preservation.
Although Heritage Ohio got behind an unsuccessful effort to preserve and restore Seneca County's 1884 courthouse in Tiffin, the topic is not on the conference agenda.
"It could have been, and I know I've got board members who think it should have been," Ms. Barrett said. "I think it's a really fresh wound, and I think the perspective, with a little distance, is going to be so much more valuable to us. We certainly don't want to come at the issue with the whining and crying that you could, but I think a little distance is going to give us much better perspective."
The courthouse, designed by noted American architect Elijah Myers, was demolished in January after two of three county commissioners decided it was not financially feasible to renovate the building.
By Friday, some 225 people had registered for the Heritage Ohio conference. Ms. Barrett said walk-up registrations will be accepted.
Further information about the conference is available at heritageohio.org.