Mahoning Valley Historical Society Presents Annual Awards

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The Mahoning Valley Historical Society has announced the winners of its 9th annual Historic Preservation Awards. The winners of the 2013 Community Revitalization Awards are:

1) The Henry Barnhisel House, which houses the Girard Historical Society. The society bought the Greek Revival home, built in 1826, in 1975.

Dr. John White, a professor at Youngstown State University, led an archaeological dig in 1979 to examine the foundations of the earlier house and the foundation of a later porch added in 1840. The house’s rear wings had been removed in the 1950s and the house had been altered into apartments in its first 100 years.

Restoration began in 2000, with preservation including new mechanical systems, removal of post-1840 interior walls, doorways and windows, chimney repair and a new handicap-accessible bathroom. The completed first floor opened in 2003 and the upstairs opened in 2007. Reconstruction of the original 1820’s rear wings began in 2007 and was completed in 2009.

The Barnhisel House is owned by the Girard Historical Society and the project was nominated by Rebecca Rogers.

2) Brookfield Township Cemetery, also known as the Brookfield Center Cemetery, was set aside in 1806 by the original purchaser of the township, Judge Samuel Hinckley. After years of vandalism, and neglect of the northern edge, the Brookfield Township Historical Society decided to restore the oldest section of the cemetery in 2009.

Volunteers worked to clean, reset, glue and seal stones. Vines were removed from a 1908 mausoleum and the slate sidewalk was reset. Trees and brush were removed to reveal hidden tombstones and a discarded pile of markers were returned to their rightful place using old records.

Volunteers come back each year to continue work and records have been restored by reading and photographing each marker. Five markers for Revolutionary War veterans have been placed, and there are currently 11 Revolutionary War veterans buried at the cemetery.

The project was nominated by Lois Werner, chairman of the restoration project.

3) Pollock Mansion in Youngstown. Built in 1893, the house was designed by Charles H. Owsley, a prominent Youngstown architect, and was gifted to Porter and Mary Pollock in 1897 for their wedding by the bride’s father, Paul Wick.

The mansion was expanded in 1930 and the family lived there until 1950 when they gifted the estate to Youngstown College, which used the property for various academic and administrative functions before converting it to an 81-room hotel and building a major addition in 1987.

The Wick-Pollock Inn closed in 1998 and remained stagnant until 2010 when YSU decided to remove all additions and alterations of the 1987 hotel and return the mansion to its 1930s state. Exterior restoration included correction of structural defects, conservation of art glass, repairs to wood siding, replacement of natural slate roof and rebuilding of chimney forms with original brick.

Interior finishes, including plaster and wood, were cleaned and repaired, original pieces of the grand staircase were salvaged and reconstructed, and the original kitchen and scullery were returned to service.

The house is owned by YSU and the project was nominated by Ron Faniro, the project’s architect.

4) The North Bloomfield Town Hall was built on the township green in 1893. It served as a meeting hall and entertainment venue, with a sloped floor and fixed theater seats built into it. Once the central high school was built in 1926, the stage was no longer needed and sometime in the 1940s, the fixed seating was removed and the floor was leveled.

The town hall found new life as the Grange Hall and in the 1970s, the new township administration building was built. The North Bloomfield Historical Society was formed in 1999 with a top priority of saving the original town hall. The society has raised and invested approximately $40,000 so far and the building gets regular use for square dances, presentations, programs, plays and meetings.

After a capital bequest, a handicap-accessible bathroom was installed and adapted to match the building’s existing character. Original doors were reused and new wainscoting was milled to be an exact match to the current woodwork.

The building is owned by the township and was nominated by Roger Peterson.

5) Idora Historic Homes, built in 1922, 1926 and 1930. In 2012-13, the Youngstown Neighborhood Development Corp. completed three rehabilitations of formerly vacant historic homes, including at 820 Canfield Road, 867 Lanterman Avenue and 765 Lake Drive.

The preservation plan ensured the historic and architectural significance of each home was preserved while including energy efficient construction and upgrades.

The houses are owned by the YNDC and were nominated by Dominic Marchionda.

Information for this story was provided by the Mahoning County Historical Society.

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