Category Archives: Building Preservation

HDC Looks Back On and Forward to Black History Projects

In recognition of Juneteenth this month, HDC looks back on our projects that were associated with Black history.

In early 2002, HDC started a project to prepare a renovation master plan for the Gammon House in Springfield, Ohio. The Gammon House was built in 1850 by George Gammon, a Black abolitionist and is one of the few Underground Railroad sites in Ohio that was owned by a free person of color. HDC subsequently implemented the first phase of the renovation plan to stabilize the exterior.


The Gammon House before (left) and during (right) stabilization in 2007.

In 2003, HDC was commissioned to prepare a feasibility study to renovate the Lincoln Theatre in Columbus into a modern performing arts center. The Lincoln Theatre, an Egyptian Revival theatre that opened in 1928, was funded by a Black developer, designed by a Black architect and built by a Black contractor. HDC’s study was used to secure funding from the City of Columbus and Franklin County, with the remaining funds raised by private donors. The grand re-opening occurred in 2009, and the project received awards from Columbus Landmarks Foundation, Heritage Ohio and the Ohio Historic Preservation Office.


The interior of the theatre before (left) and after (right) rehabilitation in 2009.

In 2005, the City of Wichita commissioned HDC to prepare a redevelopment study for the Dunbar Theater, which was constructed in 1941 and named after Paul Lawrence Dunbar, the Black poet and author from Dayton, Ohio.

It was the focal point of a commercial and entertainment hub that served the McAdams neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods that were predominantly African-American in origin until 1963, when the theater closed. Power CDC, a developer that specializes in inner-city Wichita, acquired the building in 2007 and restored the façade and marquee in 2012-2014.


The Dunbar Theatre continues to be a work in progress.

In 2007, HDC prepared a Historic Structure Report and implemented the stabilization and exterior rehabilitation of the Lathrop House, which was built c. 1850 by Lucian Lathrop, a prominent white abolitionist in Sylvania, Ohio. The house contains an Underground Railroad Museum in the new basement and HDC completed an update to the Historic Structure Report in 2021 to rehabilitate the interior of the house and make it accessible.

The Lathrop House before (left) and in 2021 (right).

In 2017, HDC prepared a master plan to rehabilitate the Ozem Gardner House in Sharon Township near Worthington, Ohio, which was built in the 1840s by a local abolitionist, into offices for the Flint and Walnut Grove Cemeteries. The Gardner Family donated the original land to create the cemetery in 1821. The pandemic set the project back from its goal of opening in 2021. It is currently anticipated to be completed in 2022.


The Ozem Gardner House before (left) and after restoring the original masonry window openings (right).

In 2020, the City of Athens commissioned HDC to prepare a renovation master plan to convert the Mount Zion Baptist Church, built in 1904 by a Black congregation, into a community center and museum of African American Appalachian culture. The study was used to obtain a grant from the National Trust for Historic Preservation to start the rehabilitation process.


The Mount Zion Baptist Church in Athens, Ohio.

HDC recently worked with architect O.A. Spencer on the interior renovation of the Martin Luther King Jr. Performing and Cultural Arts Complex in Columbus, whose mission is to connect community through the arts by engaging central Ohio through performing, cultural and educational programs of high artistic merit that increase and disseminate knowledge regarding the vast and significant contributions of Black Americans to the culture and history of America and the world.

 
The main Auditorium with new flooring, ceiling and lights, looking through the updated column (left) and looking into the Lobby past the mural by artist Wali Neil (right). Photos by Shellee Fisher Photography.

And finally, HDC is very honored to have been awarded the project to prepare a Historic Structure Report of the Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in Lawrence County, across the Ohio River from Huntington, West Virginia. The church was built c. 1849 and is one of the first Black churches constructed west of the Appalachian Mountains. The team is looking forward to starting work in August!


The Macedonia Missionary Baptist Church in South Point, Ohio.

Stained Glass and Faceted Glass at Jefferson Barracks Chapel

 
The exterior (left) and interior (right) of the chapel at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis

One of the seven national cemetery locations HDC is investigating with Tetra Tech is Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery in St. Louis. The project here is not the historic superintendent’s lodge, but a chapel built in the 1970s. Since it is such a recent building, the team was lucky to be able to visit the studio of Emil Frei & Associates in St. Louis, the firm that designed and installed the stained glass windows in the 1970s and the faceted glass skylight in the early 1980s. In addition, Stephen Frei led our tour and demonstrated how faceted glass is made by chipping away at a 1″ thick block of glass. He also came to the site to inspect the skylight, which he himself had personally installed. Stephen Frei also explained how the stained glass trees around the perimeter were intended to blend in with the trees outside and that the faceted glass skylight was renamed “The History of Humanity” from “The History of Religion” to be accepted for use in a federal building.

  The faceted glass skylight in the chapel (left) and Stephen Frei explaining how faceted glass works (right)

HDC Starts Work on the Historic Meade House in Symmes Township

Northeast corner of the Meade House in Symmes Township

HDC is leading a team that includes engineers from Elevar Design Group to prepare a feasibility study to rehabilitate the Meade House in Symmes Township into a banquet facility. The house was built in 1906 on an over 200-acre farm for Dr. Charles C. Meade, a homeopathic physician, Pulte Medical College of Cincinnati professor of obstetrics, Homeopathic Medical Society president, and former president and director of the Hamilton County Fair Board. Dr. Meade was born in Fort Branch, Indiana in 1862, the son of Stephen Walter Meade and his wife Sarah Jane Rutledge, who was of English descent. Dr. Meade graduated from Central Normal College at Danville, Indiana, in 1886 before earning a medical degree from Pulte Medical College in Cincinnati in 1890. He went on to post graduate studies at the New York Post-Graduate School of Medicine and Surgery. As part of the teaching staff at Pulte College, Dr. Meade served as chair of embryology and junior obstetrics from 1898 to 1902. From 1902 to his retirement in 1905, he held a full professorship and oversaw both junior and senior obstetrics. Dr. Meade lived in this house with his second wife, continuing to assist neighbors with difficult births in his retirement. He sold the house in 1917 and moved to the Hyde Park neighborhood of Cincinnati.


Can this team save the former OSU Sheep Farm?

   
Left: front elevation of the Lane House on West Case Road, Right: the Red Barn and silos on West Case Road.

HDC is on MKSK’s team to prepare a feasibility study to convert the former OSU Sheep Farm into West Case Road Park for the City of Columbus Department of Recreation and Parks. The team is investigating the work and costs needed to repair/upgrade the existing brick farmhouse into a leasable event space, as well as convert the existing barns into vehicle storage buildings and possibly larger event spaces or picnic shelters. The house was constructed c. the 1880s and is one of the oldest structures remaining in northwest Columbus. Originally owned by William F. and Maude Lane, the house is a simple Federal style with windows that are three-ranked (three windows across on the second story with two windows and a door on the first story), stone lintels, and a hipped roof with exposed rafter ends. The overall building type is a hipped L, which is a two-story building with an L-shaped plan and intersecting hip roofs. The front door overhang and rear extension were later additions. The initial response was that the buildings should be demolished, but after the team submitted a draft assessment and rehabilitation report for the historic farmhouse and red barn, the City is now considering saving both.


HDC Work Featured in Toledo Blade Article: HDC Completes Renovations and Updates to Lathrop House Historic Report

The Toledo Blade recently published a newspaper article on the Lathrop House in Sylvania, Ohio. HDC was quoted in the article about their involvement in the rehabilitation of the house.

In 2006, HDC was commissioned by Toledo Metroparks to prepare construction documents to stabilize the Lathrop House using transportation enhancement funds from the Ohio Department of Transportation. The house had just been moved from its original site to a location within a city park to save it from demolition. At the request of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office (OHPO), HDC also prepared a historic structure report to guide the proposed rehabilitation of the property, which was completed in 2007. Upon OHPO’s approval of the report, HDC submitted construction documents to reinforce the first-floor structure, which consisted of tree limbs with bark still intact, rehabilitate the windows, replace the roof, and repair the siding to make the house weathertight.

The house was built in 1840 in the popular Greek Revival style of its time. In addition, HDC’s investigations revealed that what was assumed to be an addition was actually a separate older house, which had been repurposed and attached to the Lathrop House as an addition.

In 2014, the new basement was renovated into an Underground Railroad museum exhibit. Since then, visitors have been asking to tour the first and/or second floors, and in 2020 Heritage Sylvania commissioned HDC to update their 2007 Historic Structure Report to include the 2014 renovation and to recommend first and second floor rehabilitations, including the location of an elevator. Click here for a copy of the updated report.

Check out these before and after pictures of the house’s exterior renovations:

    
The Lathrop House under construction in 2008 (left) and the Lathrop House in 2020 (right)

 


Spring 2018

President Charissa Durst Honored as a Progressive Entrepreneur

Charissa Durst was named a 2018 Progressive Entrepreneur Honoree at the Smart Women Breakfast on April 17, 2018. The award recognizes female entrepreneurs who have forged their own path and developed a company that has achieved substantial growth.  Charissa was honored for establishing herself as a leader in her field and among other women business owners, as well as for building Hardlines Design Company (HDC) from the ground up into an award-winning company that has earned an excellent reputation for its creative approach to architectural design and its love for the renovation of historic buildings.
Charissa Durst receives her award. (Photo by Jay LaPrete)

Demonstration of D/2

Cathie Senter gave the office a demonstration on how to clean masonry using D/2 Biological Solution, which is a non-toxic cleaner that can be sprayed onto masonry at full strength or diluted with water. We used bricks obtained from the Dawn Theater during the last field visit and confirmed that the brick featured black speckles that matched the original black mortar. The longer the brick was in contact with the solution, the cleaner it became. D/2 is also commonly used to clean historic gravestones in cemeteries.


Bricks from the Dawn Theater in a D/2 bath

Woodward Opera House Gets Partial Occupancy Permit

After 17 years, there is a light at the end of the tunnel! The Woodward Opera House project received partial occupancy at the end of March, which allowed portions of the building (the commercial sections) to be leased and occupied. Areas still under major construction include the theatre areas, which likely will not be ready until the fall season at the earliest. Charissa Durst and Brad Curtis have been working through the federal historic tax credit reporting forms as well as responding to issues brought up by the contractors and state inspectors. Many people have been asking about a grand opening, and we hope to have some news on that soon!


View of new main stair in the Promenade, April 2018

 
View of the Stage (left) and view of the Balcony (right)

HDC works with Commonwealth Heritage Group at the St. Louis Arsenal

Last fall, Commonwealth Heritage Group asked HDC to team with them on a project at the historic St. Louis Arsenal in Missouri for Scott Air Force Base in Illinois. HDC’s portion of the project was to conduct a conditions assessment and prepare repair and mothballing recommendations for when the Air Force transferred ownership of the buildings to the General Services Administration in the near future. Cathie Senter conducted the field work and recently contributed to the executive summary currently under review.
The Arsenal has a long history that began in 1827, when the site was used to manufacture and repair small arms and gun carriages for the Army as well as territorial militias west of the Mississippi River. It played a key role in settling the American West from arming U.S. troops during the Indian Wars of the 1830s to being a Union outpost during the Civil War. The Arsenal property is today a satellite to Scott Air Force Base and is highly secure, and all field team members had to be escorted and could not take photographs. However, the following historic images are already in the public domain and can be shown here.


Historic photo of Building 7, built 1849-50 as the Ordnance Coal House and now the Visitors Center.


Historic photo of Building 6, built in 1852 as the Carriage-Maker’s Shop and now demolished.

When the Boss is Away, the Dogs Will Play

When HDC President Charissa Durst attended the Women Presidents Organization annual conference in Los Angeles, Donut the Beagle stayed home to be tended by Charissa’s husband, Don Durst. Meanwhile, back at the office, the staff’s dogs made guest appearances.


Brad tries to teach Baxter the building code.


Megan’s Sherlock refuses to do any work and prefers to watch traffic.


Donut, who turned 14 on March 25, goes to Prairie Oaks Metro Park the weekend after the WPO conference and would rather be splashing in the water than posing for a photo.


Hardlines’ Oyler School project wins rehabilitation award

(by Charissa Durst, posted on December 11, 2012)

Back in 2006, when Dick Krehbiel of the Roth Partnership asked me if HDC would be willing to join their team for some historic school renovations in Cincinnati, I said “Sure!” HDC would be the team’s historic preservation consultant and be responsible for the rehabilitation of the exterior enclosure, with emphasis on roofs and historic masonry and terra cotta. It seemed pretty straightforward. Little did we know that our work to repair the exterior of Oyler School would be part of an award-winning design project or that the school would become nationally recognized as a catalyst for turning around a poor urban neighborhood.

Oyler School was built in 1930 and designed by the prominent Cincinnati architectural firm of Samuel Hannaford & Sons. The building anchors the Lower Price Hill Historic District, which is located in the river valley to the southwest of downtown Cincinnati. The school’s impressive exterior was described in the National Register nomination as a “delightful blending of Art Deco and Italian Romanesque executed in terra cotta, brick, and Rookwood tile.” Statues of boys and girls executed by Rookwood are seated in various locations on the building.

View of the south elevation of Oyler School

In the mid-1970s, when Cincinnati Public Schools announced it would close Oyler, the Lower Price Hill community rallied to save their school. In the 1980s, the Community Council formed to give the community a voice in city politics and the neighborhood was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as Cincinnati’s largest historic district. Ultimately, Cincinnati Public Schools committed to a $20 million rehabilitation and addition to Oyler School.

Detail of terra cotta on the south elevation

HDC’s work centered around the restoration, repair, and replacement of the terra cotta details.  HDC’s design team researched the composition of the exiting terra cotta in order to find materials and methods for seamless repair and replacement. The team paid special attention to the different types of glazing finish the contractor would encounter, including monolithic (uniform solid), mottled (speckled), polychrome (having two or more colors on the same unit), and polychrome blended colors (varying colors are blended by method of surface application).

Falcon detail on south elevation

Ultimately, HDC designed and specified terra cotta work that work included removing, cleaning, and re-installing terra cotta features after the repair and reinforcement of the underlying structural system; repairing cracks and damaged glazing, and replicating missing/damaged items using glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC). HDC staff also made multiple visits to the job site to approve the quality of the mockups and to resolve hidden structural problems as pieces of terra cotta were removed for cleaning.

Capital terra cotta details

Oyler School was one of eight projects to receive a 2012 Rehabilitation Award from the Cincinnati Preservation Association. The event was held on Saturday, November 17, at the Cincinnati Zoo, whose renovation of the Reptile House also received an award. Charissa Durst and Bill Faciane represented Hardlines Design Company and were joined by representatives from the Roth Partnership, Cincinnati Public Schools, Oyler School, and the Lower Price Hill community in what may have been the largest turnout in the history of the awards.


Dick Krehbiel of the Roth Partnership and Charissa Durst of Hardlines Design Company (photo by Bill Faciane)

In tandem with the completion of its physical transformation, the school’s unique K-12 program targeted at serving the community is making national headlines, as American Public Media featured the school on four segments of its “Marketplace” program this year. Once again, Hardlines Design Company has contributed to the preservation of a historical community building.


HDC Historic Preservation Work in the News

(by Andy Sewell, originally posted October 24, 2012)

Recently, HDC architectural engineer Bill Faciane was in the news, talking about our work with Toward Independence, a non-profit group in Xenia, Ohio, that is participating in a city-wide movement to renovate and restore downtown businesses. The group owns two buildings in downtown Xenia and became eligible for façade improvements through a Community Development Block Grant.The group contracted HDC to help restore the buildings to their original, historical appearance.

Originally, the buildings were covered in 1970s-era material after damage from a 1974 tornado that struck downtown Xenia. Like many things from that time, what seemed like a good idea hasn’t really held up in terms of lasting aesthetics! Through restoration of the buildings to their historical appearance, Toward Independence will contribute to the revitalization of downtown Xenia. This work is another example of the value of historic building renovation in revitalizing the downtowns of American communities.


Five Things to Keep in Mind About Historic Building Renovation

(by Charissa Durst, originally posted on October 4, 2012)

We often take for granted the history of a neighborhood. Where once stood an Art Deco office building, now sits a cookie-cutter strip mall. But what if an architect had taken the time to study the history behind the Art Deco building? How would they have gone about completing an historic building renovation that not only would house shops but could also have a positive impact on the neighborhood as a whole? By following a few guidelines, renovating a historical building doesn’t need to be the money pit many developers would have you believe.

Do your research. Understanding the history of a community will give you a huge advantage when beginning your restoration project. Just as architectural periods segue from one style to another, neighborhoods reinvent themselves over time. Through careful research, patterns will emerge that will help you tackle your project while maintaining the building’s integrity. Historically, research has always been a bit of a treasure hunt. Hours of library research often turned up scant details while other days you could immerse yourself in a building’s original plans. Luckily, the internet has opened up the world’s historical archives and sources such as Sanborn Fire Insurance maps collection give you an instant picture of a neighborhood’s character.

Review regulations. Every city has its own regulations on historical preservation. Taking the time to learn know your area’s regulations will definitely save you time, money and headaches. Submit plans early in the process; you might need the extra time to make design adjustments. Also, check the historical designation of the building you are restoring. Is it listed in the National Register of Historic Places or as a contributing structure to a historic district? Contact the state historic preservation office, the agency that oversees historic preservations, and ask if your project has any restrictions you’ll need to follow. Generally, historic renovations should follow the Secretary of the Interior’s Guidelines for Rehabilitation (link to NPS site?). Finally, check if your property is located in an area subject to review by a local area commission, architectural commission, or historical commission. I sit on the German Village Historic Commission here in Columbus, and believe me, we are way more strict with buildings in our district than a property that is merely subject to state or federal regulations!

Secure funding. Historic building renovations can qualify for a variety of federal grant programs. These programs, which help offset the high cost of preservation projects, have various requirements so make sure you know your projects parameters and goals before applying. The Main Street Grant program assists historic downtown areas retain their tradition and character.  Our company is currently working on a façade improvement project in the City of Xenia that was partially funded by a Main Street grant.

Rendering of proposed facade improvements in Xenia, Ohio

Federal historic tax credits and new market tax credits have been a source of funding for renovation projects since the 1980s. When coupled with state historic tax credits, a significant percentage of the project’s costs can be covered. Our Woodward Opera House project recently applied for federal and state tax credits, which allowed the project to expand from a $2.5 million “just fix-it” construction budget to an almost $15 million state-of-the-art performing arts center budget.

The Woodward Opera House in Mount Vernon, ca 1916

Reuse and recycle. Bringing modern conveniences and materials into your historical renovation can be a labor of love. By installing environmentally friendly products during your renovation, you can bring warmth and savings to your building. Reuse, restore or repurpose flooring you salvaged during demolition. Creating a ‘sustainable-use plan’ prior to construction will expedite the material recycling and help you organize the inventory for future use. If your goal is a sustainable project, consider obtaining LEED certification from the U.S. Green Building Council. A project earns points for each sustainable criteria met.  A total building renovation qualifies as a LEED New Construction project, which requires 40 points for basic certification, 50 for Silver, 60 for gold, and 80 for platinum. HDC is currently renovating a historic elementary school with the goal of achieving LEED for Schools Silver Certification.

Stewart Elementary School in Columbus, Ohio, with the original 1874 building in the front

Hire the Right Team. The pool of design firms that provide historic renovation services seems to grow as the economy shrinks and property owners stop building new and start focusing on maintaining their existing real estate. In reality, many firms actively avoid historic renovations because they are, as one engineer told me, “dirty.” The site can be full of unknown contaminants,  there are too many restrictions on the design work, and you never know what will be uncovered during construction that will require a sudden change in the plans. In a new construction project, all the mistakes are your own and you don’t have to deal with inherited issues. But if you ask most people, they would much rather live and work in a nicely renovated historic building than in a modern building. The materials, proportions, and craftsmanship of historic buildings just cannot be replicated today without breaking the bank.

Undertaking an historic building restoration doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Thoroughly researching the project before you begin will save you both time and money. Hiring the right team will save you headaches during design reviews and construction. The reward for your effort, though, is knowing you saved a piece of history for yet another generation to cherish


I Slept in a Wigwam

(by Maria Burkett, originally posted March 1, 2012)

Route 66 is a treasure trove of American mid-century vernacular architecture. Many songs and movies have been made about traveling the historic route, which runs from Illinois to California. Built in 1926, the route has long passed its heyday, but it is still a bastion of culture for any fan of mid-century modernism.

I love signs–here’s one marking Route 66.I was so excited to be staying in an icon of the Mother Road.

Several years ago, I was in California doing fieldwork for a cultural resources assignment for Hardlines Design Company, and I found myself driving along Route 66 in San Bernardino, looking for a place to spend a few nights. After a little research, I made an amazing discovery: one of the original Wigwam Motels is located along Route 66 in Rialto, California, just outside of San Bernardino. I immediately booked a room. For any of you who are fans of the Disney movie Cars, the Traffic Cone Motel was modeled after this.

Seven Wigwam Motels were constructed across the country between the 1930s and 1950s to serve as roadside stops for people along the new highway system. The first Wigwam Motel was constructed in Horse Cave, Kentucky, in 1933 and is sadly no longer standing. The one in Rialto was constructed in 1949 and was the last of the motels ever built. Today, only three Wigwam Motels remain, located in Cave City, Kentucky; Holbrook, Arizona; and the one in Rialto where I stayed. The motels are all situated along popular early highways and are (or were) surrounded by other interesting roadside attractions. (For more on this topic, check back for future posts in this series.)

The wigwam motels were all constructed of poured concrete and then painted. They have a round plan and are a single story tall. The design for the wigwam’s was patented in 1935, and all of the wigwams were constructed exactly the same, with the only variety being the front office and the layout of the individual wigwam buildings.


Several of the wigwams at the Rialto motel

Wigwam Motel No. 2 in Cave City, Kentucky. Unfortunately, I did not sleep in these wigwams; I just drove past them on the way to Mammoth Cave about five years ago. While the wigwams have an identical design, the layout and setting is much different than the one in Rialto. All of these wigwams are in a single arched row around a large central wigwam, and the motel is in a more residential setting, surrounded by mature trees.

The Rialto motel is located in a commercial area of the city near fast food restaurants and car lots and is a distinctive landmark for residents. The motel is laid out as a series of teepee-shaped rooms around a central rental office and pool. Each wigwam consists of a single room with a small bathroom. The rooms have the original western-style furniture, including a wigwam-shaped mirror. One thing I was surprised about was the low ceiling; the room is not open all the way to the top.

The complex is in excellent condition and is lucky to have owners that care for the history and the future of the motel. The wigwams were meticulously restored several years ago by the present owners, and the complex was listed in the National Register on January 3, 2012, joining the other two extant wigwam motels.

I enjoyed sleeping in a Wigwam and would like to repeat the experience again in the future! Have any of you ever slept in a wigwam? What did you think of the experience? For more information on the history of the motel, or if you’re in Rialto and want to sleep in a wigwam, click here for the Rialto Wigwam Motel’s website.