Columbus Landmarks congratulates the six winners of its annual Preservation Awards bestowed at its May 12 Annual Meeting:
James L. Keyes President’s Award to the James Preston Poindexter Foundation
This preservation award is selected annually by the President of the Columbus Landmarks Board to honor a person, neighborhood, community group or business for an initiative that has significantly advanced the cause of historic preservation or improved the built environment, thereby the quality of life in Columbus and central Ohio. The Award is named for the founding President of the Board of Columbus Landmarks and a lifelong believer in the importance of history and historic preservation. Jim Keyes would be pleased that we have come so far in such a short time. He once said to a former Director, “It’ll be a long road – but it is one we have to follow.” And it is one we have followed ever since.
James Preston Poindexter was one of the most memorable figures of his time. Born in Virginia in 1819, Poindexter moved with his wife to Columbus, Ohio, in 1837. He soon became a leader of the small African American community and was an active participant in the Underground Railroad. By the time he died in 1907 he had been the first African American to serve on Columbus City Council, the Columbus Board of Education, and was a founder of the Second Baptist Church.
In 1937, Poindexter Village was established in Columbus as one of the first federally supported public housing projects in America. President Franklin Roosevelt came to Columbus to dedicate the Village personally. Over the years Poindexter Village was the home to many prominent Columbus residents including the noted American artist Aminah Robinson.
To preserve the legacy of James Poindexter, Poindexter Village and the African American Community of Columbus, the James Preston Poindexter Foundation was established in 2014. A major exhibition celebrating that community will open soon in the exhibition space of the Columbus Historical Society at COSI.
Henry L Hunker Urban Legacy Award – Columbus Public Health
The Award was established in honor of Henry L. Hunker, the second President of Columbus Landmarks Foundation and Professor of Geography at The Ohio State University. He had a special understanding of the urban environment from his work as an urban geographer. He understood that what we have today is the result of the physical, economic, social and cultural forces that have shaped our city. He was, in the words of a friend, “a passionate urban story teller and architectural adventurer.” This award honors those who love and appreciate the urban environment, in its broadest definition, and work tirelessly to improve it.
This year the Henry L. Hunker Urban Legacy Award was presented to Columbus Public Health for its Columbus Art Walks Program. Columbus Art Walks are self-guided walking maps and audio tours of 14 neighborhoods highlighting public art, architecture and historical sites. Columbus Landmarks has partnered with Columbus Public Health to lead guided tours called Art Walks & Landmark Talks, bringing the Art Walk maps to life.
With the initial support of the Ohio Humanities Council, Columbus Public Health and Columbus Landmarks set out to show that art, exercise and urban design could be blended into an hour’s walk that was both fun and informative.
The program has been extraordinarily successful. To date several thousand people have taken the walks and many people have returned many times to learn more about the neighborhoods of Columbus.
Dixie Sayre Miller Patron Award – Kappa Kappa Gamma
The Award is named for founding member and benefactor Dixie Sayre Miller. The award recognizes an institution or individual whose commitment and support reached beyond the ordinary in the cause of historic preservation and improvement of the built environment. A Trustee of the Ohio Historical Society and a longtime supporter of the Junior League and a long list of other civic, social and cultural organizations, Dixie Sayre Miller led the valiant struggle to save the Alfred Kelley classical revival mansion in downtown Columbus in the early 1960’s. The loss of that building was a clarion call for the need for an organization like Columbus Landmarks.
This year the award was presented to the Kappa Kappa Gamma Fraternity and Foundation for their longstanding and tireless efforts to preserve the Snowden-Gray House and the Town-Franklin Historic District in Columbus.
Philip Snowden came to Columbus when it was a village of a few hundred people. He was a glove maker by trade and he must have been a good one. By 1852 he was successful enough in the clothing business to build what is arguably one of the best examples of Italianate Revival architecture in America.
The house was the Governor’s Mansion for Ohio Civil War Governor David Tod and then was owned for many years by the family of railroad tycoon David S. Gray. In 1951, the Snowden-Gray House was acquired by Kappa Kappa Gamma to be its national headquarters. For the past 65 years it has been that and more.
Over the years Kappa Kappa Gamma has made an extraordinary commitment to this house and the historic neighborhood around it. This has included investment in adjacent properties and the creation of an important house museum in the heart of the city.
It is probably fair to say that the Town-Franklin Historic District in its current form would not exist had it not been for the important and continuing commitment of Kappa Kappa Gamma to historic preservation in Columbus.
Outstanding Person Award – Katharine Moore
The outstanding person award is given to an individual or individuals who enhance the cause of historic preservation and improve our built environment, thereby enhancing the quality of life in our community.
This year the award was presented to Katharine Moore.
Many of us have had a moment when history and architecture became a part of us. For Katharine Moore, that moment was some time ago in a place far, far away. It was as a first grader living in Izmir, Turkey on a visit to Ephesus. Standing against a marble column, she could somehow feel the time between 1965 and the 10th century BC. And she was hooked.
After an early career working with international organizations, Katharine came to central Ohio where her family had owned a farm since 1811. Looking for a new career she found one as Executive Director of the German Village Society. For the next thirteen years, Katharine learned “the importance of winning hearts and minds to maintain strong support for the process.”
Ten years ago, Katharine left German Village to become Executive Director of the Jefferson Center for Learning and the Arts. The Center works in the re-purposing of historic buildings on Jefferson Avenue to house non-profit organizations. Among the houses is the historic home of James Thurber. And among its tenants is the Columbus Landmarks Foundation.
Over all of these good years and with many more to come, Katharine has strived at the neighborhood and grass-roots level to make preservation work in Columbus, Ohio.
Frederick J. Holdridge Outstanding Group Award – Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association
The Award is named for Fred Holdridge, Columbus Landmarks Foundation Honorary Trustee and neighborhood activist extraordinaire. The Award recognizes a neighborhood, community group or organization that has significantly fostered the cause of historic preservation or improved the built environment, thereby enhancing the quality of life in Columbus and central Ohio.
Green Lawn Abbey is an architectural and historical treasure and a preservation success story in the making. Built in 1927 – near but not related to Green Lawn Cemetery in Columbus – Green Lawn Abbey was constructed by the Columbus Mausoleum Company. Built with 1.5” thick granite walls, the Abbey contains faux marble fireplaces, stained glass windows and various religious statues and is the final resting place of many notable people.
Though the building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, over the years it faced serious challenges from lack of maintenance, vandalism and theft. Fortunately, the Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association was founded in 2006 to begin to address these issues. Since that time the Association has raised more than $230,000 and addressed many of the most pressing maintenance and security issues.
But much remains to be done. Please join the people of the Association on Memorial Day from 10-2 at the Abbey or at any of their other programs in the course of the year.
Paul E. Young Outstanding Achievement in Education Award – Starling STEM PreK-8
This award is named in honor of Paul E. Young, a founding Trustee of Columbus Landmarks Foundation and longtime Professor of Architecture at The Ohio State University. In the words of one his friends, he “fostered a love of the city’s architectural details in all who met him.” The Award honors students or educators for a program or project that has fostered discovery of a new dimension of the city’s architectural and historical legacy, while promoting the cause of historic preservation or improving the built environment.
Like many other schools in Columbus, Starling STEM PreK-8 has a long history. For many years Starling Middle school was located across the street from the new building completed in 2012. The original building was the first West High School from 1908 to 1929 when it became home to what would become Starling Middle School.
Following a professional development tour of Franklinton led by Columbus Landmarks Education Outreach Coordinator Doreen Uhas Sauer, Starling teachers and students took a creative approach to recognizing the long history of their neighborhood. In partnership with CATCO and with assistance from Doreen, they researched, wrote, produced and presented two original plays this spring about their neighborhood’s history: “Dear Mr. Sullivant” and “The 1913 Flood and the Time Travel Clock.”
This is not the first time local students have presented dramatizations of their local history. But seldom has it been done so completely and so well.
Congratulations to all of this year’s winners!