Our 2018 Caretakers of a Legacy Awards event was May 9. This collaborative German Village Commission and German Village Society event celebrates and recognizes restoration and preservation achievements in our historic district. Members of the German Village Society are “Caretakers of a Legacy,” dedicated to retaining the character and distinction of the past while creating a thriving and contemporary community in German Village. It is only fitting that we honor good preservation, restoration, rehabilitation, and community development work with the same title.

The 2018 Caretakers event was extra special! In addition to our four annual awards, we welcomed the members of German Village’s “Spot Dinner” club, a monthly rotating potluck full of engaged and interested neighbors.

Preservation Award: 251 Jackson | Scot and Kelly Helton
Presented by Commissioner Jay Panzer

I love to meander through the smaller streets and alleys of German Village. Over the years, first
Stella, then Otis, Kinja, Fred and now Faye have accompanied me on these wanderings – if fact,
were the principal reasons for them. There’s nothing like taking a walk with a dog who literally
wants to smell the roses, to open your eyes to the smaller and more subtle wonders that
surround us.

I walked by the plain little cottage with the plain little garage at the corner of Jackson Street and Cedar Alley scores of times. At first sight, it seemed a bit forlorn. A somewhat strange dormer and a small rear side addition added to its quirkiness. As did the steel post supporting the corner of the porch roof. The original portions of the cottage retained their stop gutters, though what was originally a wood shake roof and its slate replacement were long gone by the first time we walked by. There was also a pristine pressed block garage at the rear, which probably looked the same as it had the day it was built, well over a half-century ago.

The yard and brick sidewalk were unkempt and like the house, forlorn.
Sadly, what came to mind was that, this lovely little bit of German Village history, was a perfect target. My years as a Commissioner leads me to look at properties such as this and wonder what plans will come before us – renovation, modernization, EXPANSION? What would become of the yard? Would the pristine garage be buried behind a two-story addition, leaving only its garage doors visible from the alley? Most of all, how would the wonderful rhythm of that stretch of Jackson Street be altered forever.

And then – something wonderful happened. The yard got cleaned up. Foundation plantings went in. Trim and roofing were repaired. New windows were installed along with new porch roofs. A new paint job, a wrought iron fence, modest hardscaping and more landscaping followed. Each piece done with taste, style and finesse. Most of all, done with respect for the original structure and its long history. It is simply one of the most lovely properties in German Village. I am honored to present a Caretakers of a Legacy Award to Scot and Kelly Helton for their exemplary work at 251 Jackson Street.

Commissioners Award: 839 Mohawk | Frieda Hoheisel
Presented by Commissioner Charissa Durst

Cottage additions are some of the most perilous seas onto which homeowners venture in the German Village Historic District.  After discouraging additions and alterations to the few remaining cottages remaining in their original state, the Guidelines go on to say – To maintain the historic character of these buildings, proposed additions will require more careful consideration by the Commission. The usual matters of scale, proportion, height, width, materials and details become all the more challenging when set alongside a deceptively simple diminutive structure of a gabled single cottage. How to make the addition: architecturally interesting, but not distracting from the original. How to achieve the added living space, without overwhelming the original. How to make the addition clearly contemporary, without becoming a distraction.  These are not challenges for the faint of heart.

One of the best things about walking our streets is discovery of the unexpected.  A row of several cottages might contain: one with an out of scale massive addition jammed up against the original; another with a clapboard extrusion out the back that makes it look like the builder ran out of brick and simply changed material; maybe even one in its original pristine condition. And then there’s 839 Mohawk.  Working with architect Pete Foster, owner Frieda Hoheisel created something unexpected. As you walk past, admiring the lovely cottage, you stop and wonder – is that a porch under the second floor?

The scale is diminutive. The detailing is simple. The massing, with its porte-cochere like porch is light. It is interesting, without being distracting – even when viewed from the rear.  Sensitive to its surroundings and most importantly, to the original historic home.

As an added note of interest, Frieda and her mother had originally moved to Columbus and lived at 297 East Deshler.  Frieda attended Barrett and South High schools while living there.  While Frieda moved away to the suburbs to raise a family, and Frieda’s mother continued living there for a total 50 years!  After raising her family, Frieda decided she wanted to return to the village and purchased 839 Mohawk in August of 2017.  A great example of the impact of legacy in German Village; enough to bring them back after all those years.

Frieda should be proud of her project and we are proud to present her with a Caretakers of a Legacy award.

Chairman’s Award: 607 Lathrop | Tim Moore and Ken Hunger
Presented by Commission Chair Anthony Hartke

When you think of German Village, most people tend to think of the areas central and south (Third Street, Mohawk, City Park and down around Schiller Park).  One area that is often overlooked is the area that I have come to call “The Forgotten Corner” of German Village; and it happens to be the area I personally call home.  If you look at a map of German Village, this is the far northeast corner that juts out to the east, bounded by Livingston Avenue to the north, South Grant Avenue to the west, and Beck Street to the south.   The eastern boundary of Lathrop Street serves as the eastern-most boundary in all of German Village.

It is on this boundary street that our award property is located.  Boundary properties hold an unmentioned distinction in the Village; not only do they serve as our neighborhood’s “front yard”, but the owners of these properties are subject to our Guidelines and the Commission review process while their neighbors across the street are not.

When I first moved into German Village back in 2010, Lathrop Street became one of Bailey’s preferred walking routes; looking back, it almost feels like we “patrol the eastern perimeter” of German Village.  I can clearly remember noticing the house at 607 Lathrop back then, and not in a good way.  With the faded metal siding which was for some reason painted a different color up under the roof gable end.  The windows had virtually no trim and looked like they just snapped into the opening.  The fake window lite dividers gave the appearance of 12 panes on non-operable windows.  The window sizes and proportions were out of scale with the house.  Downspouts were missing.  The metal railings on the porch were straight out of the 1950’s.  To put it plainly, the house stuck out worse than a sore thumb; the preservationist in me cringed every day I passed it.  Turns out, the inside was no better shape; there was no function bath or kitchen!

Flash forward to 2015 and along came Tim Moore and Ken Hunger working with architect Bill Hugus.  Between February 2015 and August 2017, they worked to completely transform the property, with Tim performing much of the work himself.  The interior was completely gutted, converting the 2 upstairs rooms into a master bedroom, large bath and laundry room.  The back half of the house was converted into a large kitchen/dining area.   All new mechanicals and electrical were installed.

Externally, the change was equally as dramatic!  The shed roof on the old rear addition was removed and replaced with a more appropriate gabled roof.  The old historically inappropriate metal siding, windows and porch railing were removed.  New windows were added, this time sized and placed appropriately, and new wood siding was installed; all complimented by new front landscaping.  After all this transformation, the footprint of the building did not significantly increase, maintaining essentially the same footprint as the original structure.

Looking at before and after pictures, one could easily make the incorrect assumption that the original house demolished and replaced with a new build.  This project is an excellent example of how even a building that appears to be beyond hope can be renovated into an amazing structure that improves the aesthetic of this block and helps strengthen the architectural integrity of the Village boundary.

It is my privilege to present Tim Moore and Ken Hunger a Caretakers of a Legacy Award for their amazing transformation of 607 Lathrop Street.

President’s Award: Huntington Garden Deadheaders @ 25
Presented by German Village Society President Heidi Drake

Lite Schiller

Every year the German Village Society presents the President’s Award to the individual, organization, or business entity who has made an outstanding contribution to the historic, architectural, or aesthetic character of German Village and to the community’s way of life.  This year’s award goes to the volunteers that have tended the German Village showcase, the Huntington Gardens, for 25 years!

25 years that started with “Find me a garden.”

With these four simple words, German Village resident and Society member Dorothy Brownley sparked a movement.

Dorothy was an executive vice president at Huntington Bank when a German Village Society board member approached her with a funding request for a furnace at the Meeting Haus in the early ‘90s.

She was stumped.  “Why would I ever want to pay for a furnace? Find me a garden.”

Perhaps more importantly than specifically identifying green space – Dorothy and the bank were able to identify Bert Stevens. And ever since 1993 when the fateful partnership began, it has been nearly impossible to think of Huntington Garden without thinking of Bert Stevens.

Bert helped to lead the team – including Oakland Nursery expertise – that secured city and corporate financing for what would eventually become Huntington Garden, and she was intimately involved in bringing this massive project to fruition.   Bert was there at the beginning, lending her assistance in tasks as varied as designing the garden that would eventually replace what was, at the time, an empty patch of grass to hiring the contractors.  The colors of the three beds that make up the garden are, as many people know, a nod to the colors of the flags from the homeland of our original German Village inhabitants as well as the United States where they settled and thrived.

And this German Village gem is not just our secret. It has won the Color Columbus Award and State of Ohio Small Garden Award.

Bert has gone on to make sure that Huntington Garden does not lack for support of ANY kind.  If you have EVER crossed her path, you have surely donated to what has now become an Endowment Fund that is a testament to her passion, and now our passion as well.

She’s pretty relentless. We get reports back from the monthly Spot Dinners that Bert’s first word in the door each month is: “Who’s new?” She then proceeds to spend the evening on their elbow until they are up to their elbows digging in mulch the following Tuesday, or writing a check to support the work. That’s an early warning to SPOT attendees tonight!

And equally important to their fearless leader are those who choose the “dig in” path – “The Deadheaders”. They do EVERYTHING to plant and maintain this German Village landmark. As Bert puts it in speaking of the efforts of the volunteers:  “this is just something this community does.”

Former GVS Board Treasurer and longtime garden enthusiast Roy Bieber said: “Early in my life in the village, I volunteered to be a deadheader.  I was very proud that I was part of the deadheader group.    However, I evidently didn’t pinch the heads correctly or far enough down the stem (does it really matter anyhow?).  So I flunked out of deadheading.   But I was told that I was ‘promoted’ to a master mulcher.    Don’t bother looking for a certification program at OSU for ‘master mulcher’.   I soon figured out that it meant carrying heavy bags of mulch to their designated spot for spreading. …..without complaining or groaning. I guess they figured I couldn’t mess that up.”

We are showing the names on this year’s Deadhead crew because there are over 40 of them and you would be here for several hours if I tried to call them out individually. But let me explain that, when they come up here at the conclusion of my remarks to get their hard earned certificates, you may not have realized that they are deadheaders. We all wander through Schiller Park and admire the beautiful gardens.  But we rarely get to see their faces.  Planting, pruning and tending seem to require them to assume the deadheader position – heads down, butts up. I think we can all agree that this is NOT your average volunteering commitment.

Their 25-years of continuing contributions to the fabric of German Village life mark the garden as eminently deserving of this special honor.  Not only are these folks Special Ambassadors to the neighborhood, but so, too, is the garden itself.

So please help me to recognize this tireless group of volunteers as they come up for their well-deserved certificates!

Special Ambassador Award: Columbus Historic Preservation Officer Randy Black (retired)
Presented by German Village Society President Heidi Drake

Preservation is a funny endeavor. It is fraught with emotion, dreams, and memories. The cast of characters around any given issue runs the gamut from quiet historians to mega-developers. From seasoned activists to first time homebuyers. There are few scenarios as complex, as compelling and as critical as what we do with the architectural legacy of those who have come before us. The structures they leave behind embodied their dreams, their hopes, and their tragedies. We are tasked with honoring that legacy and continuing the highest and best use going forward for this legacy. One that retains the integrity of a structures origin yet meets the needs of our modern era, our values and our dreams. It takes strong leadership to create success and nobody has expressed that leadership as effectively as Randy Black.

German Village Commission was Randy’s first commission assignment. He worked closely with Mike Rosen, Scott Dewhurst, Judy Williams, Ann Fanta, and Dan Frye (among others). It was an eye-opening experience for him in how a strong commission can make a difference in protecting and advancing their designated resources.

In thinking over his career, Randy built a large network of preservation supporters, community activistis, builders/developers/architects/commissioners/lawyers/state and local government employees/and consultants helping him to raise the presence of the Office across the city.

Randy felt he has several missions to accomplish.

His first was to support and guide the residents of the city of Columbus. He saw his office as a resource for helping people understand the various commission guidelines. Preservation standards and objectives, and thereby adapt their rehabilitation projects accordingly.

His second, but no less important charge was to support the City’s Historic District Commissions with their task of approving/denying the many of thousands of applications. He and his office worked to implement historic guidelines. Increase the number and scope of staff approval items, and staff monthly business meetings to familiarize the commissioners with the monthly meeting agenda and narrow down the number of applications requiring presentation at the regular monthly meetings.

Thirdly, he was an advocate in shaping the thinking of may developers/builders/homeowners to consider preservation and adaptive reuse strategies for their buildings and projects as both culturally appropriate but also solid economic investment objectives. In some cases, Randy used his network to find buyers and developers to take on the ‘lost causes’, buildings in danger or being torn down and give them new life.

Here are a few of Randy’s favorite projects across the City of Columbus.

201 E. Whittier, owned by Annabelle Vella, with serious code violations and no resources to complete the needed repairs. Randy worked with then Chairman Mike Rosen and the GVS to keep Annabelle in her home using the City’s Rehab housing department along with CMACAO. This house has now been completely renovated and last sold for $327,000.

The Wall St. brick double, a ramshackle ruin of a house located in the Brewery District on the verge of demolition for a parking lot, brought back to life by Bob Schilling and sons.

Randy worked with Grange Insurance during their home office campus development project to move a significantly important house to Front St. instead of tearing it down. (Image available)

Randy ushered the St. Mary’s School through its most recent and extensive adaptive reuse. First of course a school, then a corporate headquarters, followed by use as a bank and finally, after extensive renovations a private residence.

The Dam Tenders house (Now the Greg Lashutka Event Center). This was a building lost in time, until Conrad Hines, architect for the City’s water department called Randy. With monetary assistance from the City of Columbus identified by Council member Mary Ellen O’Shaughnesy and local support from a working group pulled together by Randy, a feasibility study was completed and the building was mothballed while the Recreation and Parks Department decided on it’s best use.

During his tenure, Randy and his office participated in the massive redevelopment of the Short North area, straddling two commissions, Victorian and Italian.  Along High street, Randy was instrumental in incorporating existing facades in several new developments, retaining the integrity of the original streetscape while executing new development.

And finally, a project with a profound impact on the city, the Municipal Light Plant. Once a city orphan, the compound was set to be torn down. Randy convinced the City that it was a marketable historic property. Randy used his network to find interested buyers. The City, now convinced, issued an RFP for the project and the adaptive reuse transformation is underway with the new owner, Brad DeHayes, preparing for the grand opening by the first occupant, Garth’s Auction House, in late 2018.

Tonight we celebrate you Randy. Your work, and your legacy. Congratulations.