Some of the best pieces and parts of our neighborhood are its quirks -- houses sitting right on the sidewalk, windows that aren't quite "square", double residences that may or may not house two families, and carriage steps and hitching rings imbedded in the sidewalks and curbs. Whether we appreciate these features or not, they're part of our history.

Some of the best pieces and parts of our neighborhood are its quirks -- houses sitting right on the sidewalk, windows that aren't quite "square", double residences that may or may not house two families, and carriage steps and hitching rings imbedded in the sidewalks and curbs. Whether we appreciate these features or not, they're part of our history.

As caretakers of a legacy (a.k.a. people who intentionally choose to live in an historic district) it's our job to make sure they're part of our future too.

My personal favorites are the hitching rings. You know what they are -- the tiny metal rings imbedded in the curb that people tethered a horse to so it wouldn't run wild down the street. It's easy to overlook these little treasures, and to me that makes them all the more valuable.

A lot of people don't even know they have them, and in fact these hitching rings can be so tough to find that I send fourth-graders to find them on their scavenger hunts (anything to keep them busy, right?).

But here's what just kills me -- when the city or property owners install new curbs that result in the loss of these hitching rings. It happens all too often, and as minor as they seem, these little rings make up a big part of our neighborhood's history. German Village is an old neighborhood where past residents actually owned and used horses -- not a new development that simply looks old.

It's up to us to maintain the historic fabric of this community, but every time these things get thrown away, a little piece of our neighborhood's history is gone.

The same goes for windows. I'm all for energy efficiency, but I can make a really strong case that the hard wood used in old windows is of a better quality than the fast-growth wood used in new windows. (I'm not even entertaining the thought of vinyl windows!)

Studies have proven that the pocket of air between an old window and a good-fitting storm window does more for energy efficiency than a new window without a storm. And for all of you who say, "but storm windows aren't historic and don't look good," remember that the idea behind storms is that they protect the historic wood window behind it. Granted storm windows made in the 1970s aren't the most attractive -- but most new storm windows have a low profile and become nearly invisible when they're painted the same color as the window trim.

Basically, it's not just the brick walls that make our homes historic: it's the materials on the plane of the walls -- the windows and doors -- that add to its historic authenticity. Those features plus the roof, porch, foundation, etc., all make a house historic. Chipping away at a building's historic details makes it less and less historic.

A German Village resident who has made a career in historic preservation and hosted a workshop that I recently attended stated it best when she noted that there is a huge difference between a historic house and a house that looks historic.

German Village is noteworthy because our buildings don't just look historic -- they are historic. People live, work, play, shop, dine, stroll, and visit our neighborhood because it is so different from every other central Ohio locale.

And it's up to us to keep it that way. Not just out of respect for the past, not just because we've been listed on the National Register of Historic Places for more than thirty years, and not just because the White House thinks us worthy of being a Preserve America neighborhood.

We've got to keep it historic for our future residents. So that future generations of Ohioans will know what German Village was all about and why it was so important to our city's history.

Our neighborhood is a testament to the past, and in many ways a testament to the preservation movement and architectural trends spanning all of the 20th century.

I don't mean to rant, but I guess what sparked this "don't forget we're historic and noteworthy because of it" column was my recent perusal through an online yard sale of sorts (remember Procrastination Graichen?) where I discovered a couple German Village stoops for sale. That's right, stoops!

Top on the list of my many questions about this is "why on earth would we let our historic stoops leave our neighborhood?"

Our historic district is made up of many pieces and parts -- some large, and some small. But each is important in its own right, and each has a story to tell.

So forgive me if I sound like an extremist -- I'm just trying to hold on to the German Village we all love and think beyond our brief tenure here as caretakers of the neighborhood. Thanks again for all the good work you do in preserving the historic integrity of our wonderful, quirky homes.

Jody Graichen is director of Historic Preservation Programs for the German Village Society and columnist for ThisWeek German Village.

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