This April, I was fortunate to travel to Cleveland, in order to shadow the Cleveland Restoration Society, and get an understanding of how they have grown the organization, and created the innovative Heritage Home Program.
Since starting as Executive Director of Cleveland Restoration Society nearly thirty years ago, Kathleen Crowther has grown the organization from one staff to a 10-plus permanent staff organization, with a rotating host of Trustees and other volunteers doing work throughout the year. The driving factor for much of this growth, was the establishment of the incredibly innovative Heritage Home Program, about sixteen years ago.
The Heritage Home Program is a partnership with the county, cities, Ohio Housing Finance Authority, and others, and offers direct technical assistance to homeowners (houses 50+ years old), as well as a subsidized interest-rate lending option. This program has seen tremendous success and growth over the years. Margaret Lann, one of the HHP staff told me that after sending spring flyers to some neighborhoods, they receive about ninety calls each day about the program!
Here at Preservation Durham, we are hoping to find ways to take this model and create something similar to serve a wide range of historic homeowners, with various needs. We will start small, and likely focus on one or two neighborhoods, but we strongly believe this could have a major impact on our ability to retain historic homes throughout the county of all shapes and sizes.
The first step in this process has been the work we are doing as our Preservation Equity Project in College Heights. Since February, we have been working with the Public History program at NCCU, and several students to document the history of the neighborhood, it’s residents, homes, and begin collecting Oral Histories. This historically African-American neighborhood was vital to the growth of institutions such as NCCU, NC Mutual Life Insurance, Mechanics & Farmers Bank, and the broader Hayti community, during the early and mid-20th century. Our hope is to grow this project, and leverage partnerships and resources to roll-out a program similar to Heritage Home in the College Heights neighborhood within the next year.
Please consider a contribution to PD today, as it will help us grow this program, and bring on interns from NCCU, in order to build equity into Preservation here in Durham.