Saturday, November 13, 2010

A Tale of Two Cities

When you talk about The Gamble House in Los Angeles, people think of a large immaculately preserved Arts & Crafts house owned by the city of Pasadena that attracts tourists from far & wide.

In Cincinnati, you get a contentious gaggle of people fighting over what, until recently, was a slowly deteriorating but viable old Victorian house on the west side of town. What is ironic is that Cincinnati, home to Procter & Gamble (to this day, a fine corporate citizen of the city), has much closer ties to the Gamble family. They were neighbors. They were employers. James Gamble was the mayor of Westwood at one point before it was annexed by Cincinnati. I guess that's why it is more emotional around here.
So why does the current owner, The Greenacres Foundation, founded by a descendant of Jim, want to demolish it? In the 70s Gamble descendant, Louis Nippert, put the home in the hands of the Greenacres Foundation precisely in an attempt to preserve the home similarly to the way the Los Angeles Gamble home was preserved. Now, the Greencres Foundation claims they want to establish the property as a park / nature preserve and can find no possible use for the structure. They cite astronomical costs in restoring & maintaining the building. Their projected maintenance costs gave Counclimember Chris Bortz, a person well acquainted with building maintenance, reason to pause.

So, back to L.A. They also have The Los Angeles Arboretum with this cool old restored Queen Anne Cottage sitting in the middle. Like The Gamble House in Pasadena, it is a source of local pride & delights tourists from around the world.
So, if Cincinnati followed this successful example, it could have both nature & a famous old home in one package. It seems so obvious, it's killin' me. The only entity not on board, however, is the foundation that owns the property.
Up in Springfield, Ohio an old dilapidated home designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, that had, for years, been treated like pooh - sliced up into low rent apartments & later abandoned - was later saved through no small amount of civic & private work. The Westcott House now has daily tours & is used for receptions & educational events. It has also given the community a renewed sense of pride.
A number of folks are struggling to save the Cincinnati Gamble House however they can. Some members of City Council have suggested procuring the property through eminent domain. I think that would be problematic. Local businesses & organizations have volunteered to donate their work to preserving the property AND facilitating the park aspect Greenacres purports to want. People are raising funds to purchase & maintain the property. Neighbors are not opposed to the park idea. So far all offers have been rejected out of hand by The Greenacres Foundation.

If you are interested in learning more or getting involved,
Save The Historic Gamble House on FaceBook
email contact
Cincinnati Preservation Association
National Trust for Historic Preservation
Victorian Antiquities & Restoration
Cincinnati City Council
The Examiner

1 comment:

SecondComingOfBast said...

Outrageous. More Green freaks at work.