Landmark Columbus to begin highlighting progressive preservation series Tuesday

Landmark Columbus Foundation will kick off a new public discussion series on the topic of progressive preservation beginning with a brief 5 p.m. reception July 12 followed by an hourlong or 90-minute discussion at the Columbus Area Visitors Center, 506 Fifth St.

Richard McCoy, the nonprofit foundation’s executive director, said the new series could highlight and boost the work of such ongoing preservation projects as the the refurbishing of First Christian Church and also the effort to preserve North Christian Church while also finding a good fit for the structure’s future since it recently ceased functioning as a house of worship.

Those two buildings are among the city’s most precious gems in its Modernist architecture crown.

“This is a way for us to talk about all the ways a community can work together on preservation projects,” McCoy said.

Those efforts will include work in the Black community, McCoy said. A private meeting with a small group of community leaders will unfold Monday at Second Baptist Church to focus on those issues with the help of Tiffany Tolbert, associate director of the African American Cultural Heritage Action Fund at the National Trust for Historic Preservation based in Washington, D.C.

In her position, Tolbert directs high-profile national preservation campaigns associated with African American cultural heritage such as the Nina Simone Childhood Home, and the John and Alice Coltrane Home, according to her online biography.

Tolbert also will be a part of Wednesday’s public meeting. Also on hand for Wednesday’s gathering will be Marsh Davis, president of Indiana Landmarks, the nation’s largest statewide preservation organization, with a membership exceeding 8,000 and a network of field offices throughout Indiana.

“One of the reasons that we’ll have Marsh here is that Indiana Landmarks has already been really helpful in all of that work (on the churches),” McCoy said.

It also has boosted the hopes of preserving long-term the nearly 132-year-old Crump Theater by naming it to its 2019 10 Most Endangered Structures List, earning it statewide publicity for its art-deco beauty and historic impact in south central Indiana.

“What this organization is dedicated to is not just the physical building, but also the design intentions for the building, the historic events that have happened in or around the building, and maybe in a more profound way, the spirit that helped create the building,” McCoy said. “So this is almost about preserving what a building or a landscape actually means.

“It’s a way to think about cultural heritage that’s a little more broad and open.”

Ideally, McCoy said he hopes that one outgrowth of the meetings will be more people ultimately interested in preservation projects locally.

“We have many types of our cultural heritage in town that certainly would benefit from more people understanding why they are important, and how to get involved in caring for them,” McCoy said. “And each of these projects is unique and complex in their own way. The bigger the part of the community we can build around them the better.”