Springfield to host Heritage Ohio statewide conference this week

Already the home to many historical sights and properties, Springfield will become Ohio’s center for the planning of future historic preservation and renovation efforts this week.

Heritage Ohio, an organization that helps city and neighborhood preservation efforts to promote commercial opportunities and cultural tourism and Main Street organization activities, will have its annual conference here Monday through Wednesday.

The conference will be hybrid, with some meetings live at the Hollenbeck Bayley Creative Arts and Conference Center and Heritage Center of Clark County and some virtual. Several Springfield residents active in local preservation and restoration efforts will be involved, and conference-goers will tour historic Springfield properties that have received significant overhauls, including the Westcott House, Hartman Rock Garden, Gammon House, Bushnell Building and, most recently, COHatch in the former Myers Market building.

“We believe preservation is important and we always learn from what communities have going on, including the smaller communities,” said Joyce Barrett, executive director of Heritage Ohio. “When a building is unique to your community, they should be doing everything they can to save it. We’re really excited to be back to doing this in person.”

Barrett said activity and experience are important factors in these efforts, mentioning COHatch as an example of turning one such historic property into something that attracts community members with its multi-use office spaces, gathering spaces and food and beverage offerings.

The conference will have several guest speakers and discuss topics including historic tax credits. One issue Barrett is particularly interested in is a Historic Preservation Tax Credit bill an Ohio State Senator is working on.

Local historian and preservation advocate Kevin Rose, Westcott House executive director Marta Wojcik, Gammon House president Dale Henry and Greater Springfield Partnership vice-president, destination marketing + communications Chris Schutte will be guest speakers and help lead tours and activities.

Students from Central State University will also be involved, doing a presentation and a tour of the university is one of the scheduled stops.

Barrett said the pandemic has affected Ohio preservation and restoration efforts with labor shortages and supply disruptions, including the price of lumber and wood products. The conference may help those seeking answers to these dilemmas.

“Some projects are still coming together and others have stalled due to financing,” she said.

The conference is expected to draw about 125 people to Springfield. People can still register for the conference. Costs and sessions are listed on the Heritage Ohio website.

A free networking event tied to the conference will be open to the public, 6:30-8 p.m. Tuesday at Mother Stewart’s Brewing Co. that will also feature karaoke.

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