Tuesday, December 14, 2004
Center Street history must be preserved
When people think of Ashland, graceful Center Street is often what comes to mind.
It’s where you can see much of the community’s history in it’s many old houses which were built in the lat 19th century and early 20th century by Ashland’s business barons and many of their employees.
Sunday’s Walking Tour of the Center Street Historic District was a good first step in preserving that history.
It showed how strong the renewed interest in saving what really is the last vestige of long-gone era in Ashland. Swarms of people enjoyed the 17 stops on the tour, which was brought back after a 10 year hiatus.
The event is just one part of an effort by the Center Street Historic District Association to create a certified local government designation, which would protect the exterior integrity of many of the homes on the historic street.
Even though the area has been designated the Center Street Historic District since 1976 and is designated on the National Register of Historic Places, the homes still can be demolished or have their exteriors changed on a whim. The fear is that the community could lose more of these community treasures if steps aren’t taken now.
Many Ashlanders still mourn the loss of the F.E. Myers home at Center Street and College Avenue with its three story turret and “candle snuffer” roof. Considered the first of the street’s grand homes, it was razed in 1975. The Dr. J.W. Kinnaman home with its long winding brick driveway was torn down in 1965. The Martin house is now located on its site.
Another home nearly was demolished a few years ago, but was saved by a Mansfield couple, Rodney and Ann Mohr, who moved it to another location across the street.
While people can see the exterior of the Center Street homes whenever they want, Sunday’s walking tour gave them a great chance to see the interiors of the homes. Many not only have had their exteriors renovated to keep their original feel, several have had the interiors renovated, too.
Since a number of the old grand homes have been converted into a variety of other uses, people can still enjoy their interiors throughout the year.
Ashland Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine occupies a portion of 934 Center St., which was T.W. Miller’s home.
Dr. W. Stanford Brechbuhler, who has worked in there since 1979, said when out of town friends visit, he likes to show them the building, which he said largely has been restored instead of replaced to keep quite a bit of its original feel.
Brechbuhler said patients sometimes like to bring in old postcards of the building to show him. Working in the old building is one thing Brechbuhler said he will miss after he retires at the end of the year.
Hopefully, that kind of excitement for Center Street will continue for many more years. Sunday’s walking tour of the historic area will go a long way in making sure that happens.