STEUBENVILLE - Vicky and Robert May waited patiently today for a house call by a building doctor.
Justin Cook and Mariangela Pfister of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Historic Society were in the city Thursday offering advice and suggestions on preserving and restoring historic buildings.
THE DOCTOR IS IN — Justin Cook of the Ohio Historic Preservation Office and the Ohio Historical Society provided advice Thursday evening on preserving and restoring historic buildings in Jefferson County. Cook was one of two experts to participate in the Building Doctor clinic held at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.
The two "building doctors" split up today to make visits to a library building, a preserved school house and several older houses.
"We are talking to building owners and asking them about specific problems. Maybe paint is peeling on the walls, maybe they have a wet basement or maybe they have puffy plaster walls in the living room. We look at the issue and offer a recommendation," Cook said during a two-hour seminar Thursday night at the Historic Fort Steuben Visitors Center.
Vicky May was one of 27 people to sit through the seminar.
She also signed up for a visit by one of the building doctors to the Oregon Avenue home she shares with her husband Robert.
"We have a home that was originally built in 1915, so I will be looking for some ideas for improvement and find out what we need to do to preserve the historical nature of our home," May said.
"Our home, the next house and the house after that one all still have the original exterior. We never put siding on and we want to preserve the look of our house," she added.
"I came to the seminar because I am interested in the preservation of the LaBelle neighborhood. There are still a lot of great older houses in our neighborhood," said May.
That is a sentiment shared by LaDonna Delatore of Belleview Boulevard.
"I believe the LaBelle neighborhood should be listed on a historical list. I love the older homes in the neighborhood and I have personally restored three houses plus the big house my family and I used to live in," said Delatore.
"We can save the historic homes on LaBelle but we need a good direction to take. I have told my husband I am ready to take on one more house restoration," said Delatore.
The visit to Steubenville this week by the building doctors was one of eight trips made this year in Ohio.
"We can thank Chris Petrossi of the Community Development Office for this visit. We are currently having work done on a new city comprehensive plan. What we learn tonight will work well with our comprehensive plan," noted Mayor Domenick Mucci.
"Your property doesn't have to be eligible for the historic registry. You determine and make your building historic. The goal during our visit is to help you to identify the historic aspects of your building. You hear people say they are going to restore a building. Restoration can mean removal of all electrical units in the building and restoring the original gas lights. But that is not very practical," said Cook.
"Rehabilitation means to return a property to a useful condition of an earlier time period. That is the real world," continued Cook.
"If you are rehabilitating a building you need to start researching its history through older photos and investigate its construction history. A building needs good maintenance, repair and if you can't repair something you need an exact replacement. If you use a contractor, find one who is experienced working on historic restorations. And don't be afraid to get a second or third opinion," Cook advised.
"I love saving old buildings. We are losing too many of them. And a few years from now people will be talking about losing buildings that were built in 1960," stated Cook.