Friday, June 25, 2010

Cleveland Area Landmarks: A proposal

It's been suggested that we need to identify the historic properties of greatest interest to us, so that we're not always scrambling around trying to save this or that building at the last minute. I agree. There are already various registries for such properties, among others the National Register of Historic Places and Cleveland Landmarks. Other cities, towns, and villages in the area also have landmark lists.

The problem with these is that they require the consent of the owner for inclusion. If an individual wants to demolish a structure, it's not in their best financial interest to allow it to become a landmark. Further, there's the (often incorrect) perception that landmark status will make it more difficult for them to sell or alter the property.

We need a landmark registry based purely on the historic merits of the structure. These structures will be called Cleveland Area Landmarks. We'll publish a list of them here. Inclusion in the list will let people know ahead of time that we, as a community, care about these buildings, and that we're willing to fight to preserve them as part of our history.

I'd suggest starting with those properties already included in local city landmark registries. To that I'd add those included in the National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) and the Historic American Buildings Survey / Historic American Engineering Record. In addition, we should strongly consider sites that were nominated to the NRHP or as city landmarks, but for which the owner did not consent.

It would be worth considering quite carefully the buildings listed in the major books on the built history of our region, including Eric Johannesen's Cleveland Architecture 1876-1976 and Mary-Peale Schofield's Landmark Architecture of Cleveland.

Then, we should see what has been omitted. We should look at this county on a street by street basis and see what buildings and neighborhoods define us. The NRHP criteria seem a reasonable standard to follow.

I'll begin by compiling a list of all the properties in the aforementioned registries.

The next step will be for you to help identify buildings for inclusion. I'll create a basic standard for the nominations, which will include at least one photograph and a justification for the nomination. On a regular basis, these nominations will be posted here, and you, the readers, will vote as to whether they meet the criteria for Cleveland Area Landmarks. By voting for a property, we will indicate our commitment to its preservation.

We'll keep our eyes on the Cleveland Area Landmarks in our respective neighborhoods, so that we, as a group, can take action when they are threatened. This registry is the first step toward real progress in preserving the history of the greater Cleveland area.

1 comment:

  1. Chris,

    I like your proposal. You suggest that "We'll keep our eyes on the Cleveland Area Landmarks in our respective neighborhoods." Many neighborhoods and cities have historic preservation groups and societies. To assist with preparing the list of properties and taking action when necessary, I would also suggest that you consider also preparing a list of the neighborhood historical societys and organization.