The Eli Kinney House of Portsmouth has been selected along with nine other buildings across the state, as part of the "Top Preservation Opportunities List for 2008."
Heritage Ohio, a preservation and revitalization organization in
Columbus, recently made the announcement.
"The 10 brick and mortar opportunities represent a variety of building types and a variety of opportunities to investors and communities alike," said Joyce Barrett, director of historic preservation for Heritage Ohio.
The Eli Kinney House, located at 317 Court St., is a Greek Revival home built in 1849 by one of Portsmouth's founding fathers. It is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The home in recent years has fallen into disrepair, and the Portsmouth Design Review Board stopped an earlier attempt to demolish the historic building. It was owned for awhile by the Elks City Lodge, but now is in the hands of willing owners who value its restoration -- John and Ellen Vetter of Portsmouth.
The Vetters applied for the Ohio Heritage grant opportunity when information was sent to all of Ohio's Main Street Program communities. Zoe Richards, director of Main Street Portsmouth, alerted the Vetters about the grant opportunity, and they were assisted in the grant application by Jennifer Hanlon, director of the Portsmouth Community Development Office.
John Vetter said part of the reason for pursuing the designation from Ohio Heritage was to get an opinion on what to do with the property.
He and Ellen have owned the property since 2006. John said the home could be a residence, a bed and breakfast, a restaurant, a museum or a combination of all four.
Barrett said she believes with Portsmouth's popular tourist trade, college town and seat of county government, the house is a likely candidate for a successful bed and breakfast.
Now in its second year, Heritage Ohio's "Top Preservation Opportunities List" has partnered with the Durable Restoration Company to provide the technical support communities may need in such areas as prioritizing rehabilitation work, finding appropriate reuse options, or understanding how their historic assets contribute to the economic vitality of each individual community.
Representatives from Heritage Ohio and Durable Restoration will visit each site to meet with the building owners or community members, provide a basic building assessment and suggest reuse options. The site visits will help building stakeholders to create or hone their strategy for the building's use once rehabilitation is completed, Barrett said.
The Vetters said since they are unsure what to do with the property, they are looking to Durable for guidance.
Durable Restoration is an award-winning restoration company. It was recognized with a Preservation Merit Award for its restoration of the Westcott House in Springfield -- a
lasting tribute to Frank Lloyd Wright, considered by many to be America's greatest architect.
Ellen said it's important to preserve the Kinney home, citing the 1810 House -- the Aaron Kinney home -- and three other Kinney houses still standing. The Kinneys were among the most prominent families in Portsmouth history.
Barrett explained Top Preservation Opportunities show the public that what may appear as a vacant building today, may be tomorrow's hot spot -- offering a location that may provide loft housing, the latest restaurant or retail establishment or a new center of commerce. Communities should look at their historic assets as opportunities, Barrett said.
Buildings that are under-utilized or await redevelopment can create unique destinations as opposed to the generic Americana of contemporary strip centers, shopping malls, and office parks, she said.
The criterion for selection takes into account the historic significance, the potential impact for the community, and the readiness and availability of community support, Barrett explained.
Heritage Ohio is the state partner to the National Trust for Historic Preservation, providing historic preservation support to Ohioans as well as coordinating the Ohio Main Street Program.
DEBORAH DANIELS can be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 234, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org