Cincinnati Experiences a Renaissance Based on Preservation

Associate professor of design Karen Monzel Hughes, in moving from Cincinnati's much-acclaimed Mariemont to the once-struggling Over-the-Rhine, discovers that rebuilding and preserving are both critical facets of preservation.
October 17, 2012, 8am PDT | sbuntin
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"I have lived most of my life in urban environments that provide experience with two distinct types of preservation," writes Karen Monzel Hughes. "Distinguishing between the two and recognizing the difference is important."

She moved to Cincinnati's re-emerging Over-the-Rhine area seven months ago, after spending 25 years in Mariemont, a John Nolen-designed community just outside downtown Cincinnati that served as a historical precedent for New Urbanism. Monzel Hughes notes that, "[l]iving in a community that clearly values its heritage and the benefits of an intelligently planned town instilled in me an appreciation for the preservation of the buildings as well as the overarching vision of community, the benefits of walkability, and centrality of place. Mariemont is, and always has been, a community with a clear continuity of purpose."

"In contrast to Mariemont, preservation in Over-the-Rhine takes on a different urgency and faces many other obstacles," says Monzel Hughes. "The opportunity for maintaining its rich historic buildings and urban fabric has long since disappeared. The expense of rehabilitating crumbling buildings can be a roadblock to investment just as the poverty and crime that had overridden the area are deterrents to creating sustainable community. However, Cincinnati has taken an approach that is showing rapid and highly successful results."

Thanks to Simmons Buntin

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Published on Monday, October 15, 2012 in Terrain.org: A Journal of the Built & Natural Environments
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