-as presented by German Village Society Executive Director Shiloh Todorov

How do you know when you get to one of America’s great neighborhoods?

We are, by the way. The very FIRST event I attended at German Village Society in the fall of 2011 was the celebration for our – at that time – recent honor by the American Planning Association as one of America’s Top Ten Neighborhoods.

Think about when you enter Whitehall. They’ve got the special, heritage street signs, right? You know you’re there.

Or the Short North – with its arches?

Or EXTREMELY historic Philadelphia.

Yet in German Village – home of one of the nation’s first ordinance-protected districts – we have a couple of tilting Historic Register signs from 1974.

Ugh.

Well, looking at that – a lot of us know we deserve better. But NOT every single one of us set out to fix it.

Darci Congrove and John Pribble didn’t’ just SEE the problem, they figured out a fix.

They travel WIDELY.  They love to go to historical areas and explore.

And then they’d come home and wonder: How can you be a “truly great” historic district without information about it for both those who live or work here and those who visit?

Darci and John started paying more systematic attention to their observations.

Somewhere about five years ago, I started getting text like this from Darci when she was on these trips: This one.

Maybe something like this.

Ugh – not this.

With GVS’s mission as a historic preservation non-profit, this was an area of obvious need.

So she and John and their fabulous friends created Tea 43206 to begin to PAY FOR the fix.

Phase I was a comprehensive overview – how are we going to do this in stages as we raise the money, but not lose sight of the bigger project.

Phase II – house plaques. Villagers can invest in German Village Society investigating the history of their property and pay to create a plaque to hang at their door to share the story.

Today, we unveil Phase III.  German Village Society has used our extensive archives, results of oral interviews, and community input to develop an immersive interpretive trail in the neighborhood. This path has been named

“The Brickline: An Urban Historic Discovery.”

The recurring themes are: German settlement, immigration and culture; the early – and  groundbreaking – historic preservation movement; the architecture, landscape, and physical context of the neighborhood; German Village parks and gardens; and LGBTQ residents as community visionaries.

How many of you have been to Tea 43206? Then you’ve helped us bring this to fruition. If you bought a ticket, purchase or donated a silent auction item, told a friend, had a Tea yard sign in your yard, baked a cupcake – you are an integral donor to this project.

I estimate that roughly 140,000 cupcakes had to be baked to get us to today – so nicely done.

And those cupcakes – plus, really solid vision and planning led by Darci and John – attracted the attention of Ohio Humanities Council, who awarded us a $20,000 grant a year ago to make this happen.

The United Way Neighborhood Partnership Grant kicked in funds, too. And in addition to fabricating the signs – those funds helped pay professionals, namely from Benjamin D. Rickey & Co. and MKSK – to do the research and design you’ll see.

The Brickline is for you. Over time, you’ll begin to see these stories told in surprising places around the district. Each time you turn the stroller a different direction, or the dog takes you down a new walk path, you’ll learn a little more about your neighborhood.

Our visitors will find it by – like you – stumbling over these little treasures, but our Visitors Center volunteers will also help people find it — and soon, we expect to roll out a GPS-enabled app to add even more depth and context to these stories.

I also want to thank the property owners who have given us permission – served as the guinea pigs – to be the first to award us access to hang the signs. Lindey’s, Vutech | Ruff, Sandy Kight, German Village Garten Club, Joel & Jess Pizzuti, Jane Taylor, the Magorien family, and the fine folks who own the Beck Place Condos. Jim Million volunteered his expertise to HANG the plaques.

It has truly taken a Village to get us here, but let’s not lose focus on who sparked it. A round of applause please for Darci and John.