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Bipartisan historic preservation caucus forms to better protect Ohio's landmarks

Seven people pose for a photo in front of a counter.
Ohio History Connection
State legislators and stakeholders involved in the Ohio Historic Preservation Caucus pose for a photo May 9 at the Ohio History Center in Columbus to form the Ohio Historic Preservation Caucus. Pictured, from left, are Kevin Boehner, director of governmental relations for the Ohio History Connection; caucus co-chairs state Rep. Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and state Sen. Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green); Duane Van Dyke and W. Kevin Pape, board members for Heritage Ohio; Barb Powers, inventory and registration department head for the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office; and Diana Welling, state historic preservation officer and director of the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office.

A group of bipartisan Ohio lawmakers are working to preserve historic structures and landmarks.

Ohio House lawmakers, Bob Peterson (R-Sabina) and Joe Miller (D-Amherst), along with Theresa Gavarone (R-Bowling Green) and Hearcel Craig (D-Columbus) from the Ohio Senate, formed the Ohio Historic Preservation Caucus.

The group first met last week at the Ohio History Center.

"I think there's this moment of energy where historic preservation in Ohio is an interesting and hot topic,” said Ohio History Connection Executive Director and CEO Megan Wood.

Wood said the caucus will bring attention to the benefits of historic preservation, including the economic benefits.

She pointed, for example, to the state’s successful tax credit program for the rehab of historic buildings that can be used to produce income. The program is administered through the Ohio Department of Development and the State Historic Preservation Office.

Combined with a similar federal tax credit program, Wood said Ohio sometimes puts as much as $1 billion toward preservation in a year. The state earns money back from taxes generated through activity at the preserved buildings.

“And there's always opportunities to not only expand that, but expand awareness of how, you know, saving a building can be better for a community than tearing it down,” Wood said.

Wood also believes the caucus will bring attention to historic preservation in the General Assembly.

Peterson said in a statement that he deeply appreciates Ohio’s history, especially having represented Chillicothe, Ohio’s historic capital and home of the Adena Mounds.

Miller and Craig pointed to the upcoming celebration of the nation’s semiquincentennial, which marks 250 years of the United States of America. They said they were excited to showcase Ohio’s contributions to the nation, which includes many historic sites.

Gavarone said the caucus will continue the conversation about preservation.

“It is important for the next generation of Ohioans to have knowledge of our state’s rich history, and this is a great next step in doing that,” Gavarone said in a statement.

The state caucus will be similar to a national historic preservation caucus, which is co-chaired by Ohio Congressman Mike Turner.

The Ohio Historic Preservation Caucus plans to meet at least twice a year.

Allie Vugrincic has been a radio reporter at WOSU 89.7 NPR News since March 2023.