Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Another Project

The National Historic Preservation Act of 1966 decrees:
(3) It shall be the responsibility of the State Historic Preservation Officer to administer the State Historic Preservation Program and to — 
(A) in cooperation with Federal and State agencies, local governments, and private organizations and individuals, direct and conduct a comprehensive statewide survey of historic properties and maintain inventories of such properties . . .
Despite this language, the Ohio Historical Society had, by 1970, conducted only one middlingly-comprehensive (and geographically bounded) survey — the "Southwest Ohio Survey," whose materials now languish in obscurity. (Sorting them, I must admit, has become a bit of a personal obsession.) In 1974, the Ohio Historic Preservation Office introduced its Ohio Historic Inventory form, and thus began the state's (brief) surveying heyday. In the 1980s, budget cuts forced most regional preservation offices to close. The survivors downsized, and true inventorying nearly ceased.

Now, the Ohio Historic Inventory grows most frequently when governments, agencies, and corporations endanger buildings. These outfits hire consulting firms to, as the ACHP explains, "identify historic properties in the area of potential effects." Section 106 of the Historic Preservation Act reads:
The head of any Federal agency having direct or indirect jurisdiction over a proposed Federal or federally assisted undertaking in any State and the head of any Federal department or independent agency having authority to license any undertaking shall, prior to the approval of the expenditure of any Federal funds on the undertaking or prior to the issuance of any license, as the case may be, take into account the effect of the undertaking on any district, site, building, structure, or object that is included in or eligible for inclusion in the National Register.
These Section 106 surveys tend to be as abstruse, jargon-laden, philosophically problematic, and unselective as their bureaucratic birth suggests. But their true failure — nay, inadequacy — lies in their methodology. Instead of searching an expansive area for buildings of interest, or comparing structures to form a "picture" of a given region's architecture, Section 106 surveys cover all buildings beyond a certain age (in most cases, fifty years) which stand within the "area of potential effects." A plain "ranch" home, erected in 1965 and since reclad, may be included, but the listing, long-abandoned Grecian farmhouse sitting a stone's throw from the project site is overlooked.

I don't foresee a resurrection of the comprehensive county survey. Other states may continue the tradition, but Ohio will, more than likely, record its buildings only via Section 106 compliance. So, I've whittled away yet more time and created an inventory of my own — hosted, of course, by Google's invaluable Fusion Tables. My system is imperfect. I fall into a great many of the traps that ensnare professionals, and which I've exhausted much energy opposing. But, to collect data, one must classify. Ohio's buildings are too numerous to be studied in isolation.

Click the county's name to view its associated data table; click the tab labeled "Map" to view a map of that county's notable buildings. (At the moment, only a few counties are included.)

Adams*; Allen; AshtabulaAthens*; Ashland*; Auglaize*; Belmont*; Brown*; Butler; Carroll*; Champaign; Clark*; Clermont; Clinton*; Columbiana*; Coshocton*; Crawford; CuyahogaDarke*; Defiance*; Delaware; Erie; FairfieldFayette; Franklin; Fulton*; Gallia*; Geauga*; Greene; Guernsey*; HamiltonHancock*; Hardin*; Harrison*; Henry*; Highland*; Hocking*; Holmes*; Huron*; Jackson; Jefferson*; Knox*; Lake*; Lawrence*; LickingLogan; Lorain; LucasMadison; Marion; Mahoning*; Medina*; Meigs*; Mercer*; MiamiMonroe*; MontgomeryMorgan*; Morrow*; Muskingum*; Noble*; Ottawa*; Paulding*; Perry*; Pickaway*; Pike*; Portage*; Preble*; Putnam*; RichlandRoss; SanduskyScioto; Seneca*; Shelby*; Stark; SummitTrumbullTuscarawas*; Union; Van Wert*; Vinton*; Warren; Washington*; WayneWilliams; WoodWyandot*.

Data from select non-Ohio counties is accessible here.

As of spring 2018, I've extended my project to select communities — thus far, ones in Clinton County (excluding Wilmington), Fayette County (excluding Washington Court House), and Noble County.

* I've labeled unfinished surveys with an asterisk.

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