Thursday, August 05, 1999

Lebanon seeks to preserve homes

Residents form conservation group

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — Marilyn Haley knows what it takes to restore a neglected historic home to its former grandeur. She and her husband, Ken, spent thousands of dollars renovating their 1817 Federal-style home.

        But at least the frame of the house was intact when they started.

        “You can do nothing with (the historic buildings) once they're bulldozed down,” Mrs. Haley said. “They are at the very worst before they are renovated. If they get a chance to breathe again, then they're fabulous and people rave about it.”

        Her fear is that the rampant growth and development in Lebanon will overtake the quaint community, and history will be lost forever. In April 1998, business owner Gerald Miller presented council with a map of downtown, showing that the city already had lost 190 historic homes and businesses in the 16-block area since 1954.

        Many of those buildings were some of the finest in Lebanon, Mrs. Haley said. She and a group of about 15 residents decided to form the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation, aimed at preserving Lebanon's architectural heritage. They have applied for incorporation and not-for-profit status from the state.

        “We want to keep the historic in "Historic Lebanon,'” Mrs. Haley said. “We cannot continue in the path that we

        have started and use the name historic. There will be no historic because it's all changing so rapidly.”

        The goal of the group is to educate residents about historic preservation, and work with council and city officials in urban planning. The foundation is mailing 2,000 fliers this week to residents and business owners, seeking membership and financial support. Mrs. Haley hopes to have 500 to 1,000 members by September.

        It's vital residents preserve “what's left of our heritage,” Mrs. Haley said. “We learn from the past. If you destroy the past, you have nothing to build the future on.”


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