Residents working to preserve old homes
By Al Lawrence
Mansfield News Journal Correspondent
ASHLAND - Members of the Center Street Historic District are in a preservation mood.
They don’t want to see the charm and architecture of the area to be destroyed and are taking steps to do something to preserve old homes in the area.
Some of those fine, old homes will be open to the public Saturday when the Center Street Historic District conducts a special “Center Street Christmas Tour.”
Association President Caroline Robertson said the self guided walking tour and open house has been renewed after a six year absence, not only to celebrate the holiday, but also to show off the architecture variety of the neighborhood and support a renewed preservation effort.
She said the effort was prompted partly by Ashland University’s recent purchase of properties between the main campus and the university seminary, including several homes in the district. While the university did “a nice job” of fixing up the homes, she said there’s no guarantee what will happen to them in the future.
“With the university purchasing some property and the seminary so close to us, we feel the time has come that we need to work on getting some kind of protection,” Robertson said. “We’re on the national registry, but that gives us no protection from homes being torn down or no requirements for upkeep.”
Members of the association recently met with a representative of the Ohio Historical Preservation Office who discussed the procedures necessary to establish a preservation commission which would develop guidelines for maintenance and exterior changes to district homes.
Robertson said the association hopes the tour will generate community support for the preservation effort.
“We need an opportunity for the community to reconnect with the street, to see what a gem they have and how beautiful it is,” she said. “We want people to get reacquainted with what’s here with Center Street and see that it’s not taken away.”
The tour will feature about half the homes in the Center Street Historical District, including several that have been converted into businesses, former mansions now used by Trinity Lutheran Church and Good Shepherd nursing home as well as a home at 513 Center Street that is being restored.
“Nearly all the homes have very unique foyers and woodwork and a lot have parquet flooring,” Robertson said. The homeowners will serve as hosts and answer questions.
Ashland Symphony harpist Randall Miller will perform at two of the homes.
Robinson said proceeds will be used to cover liability insurance for the tour and to renovate district signs. Officials of the historic district ask that no children younger than 4 take part in the tour.