May is Historic Preservation Month
The National Trust for Historic Preservation (NTHP) established May as Historic Preservation Month in 1973. Events and activities include promoting historic places and heritage tourism; and showing the social and economic benefits of historic preservation for the purpose of instilling national and community pride.
Historic preservation work in the United States is guided by the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties, drafted in 1977. Four sets of standards guide four distinct treatments: preservation, rehabilitation, restoration, and reconstruction.
Iowa’s Historic Preservation office identifies, preserves, and protects historic and prehistoric resources. It also administers state and federal historic preservation programs and maintains a survey and inventory collection of historic properties in Iowa.
Historic preservation is not just about restoring and preserving grand buildings, but also encompasses maintenance and repair of any historic building in a manner that prevents loss and damage of features and materials that communicate the story of time and place in which it was constructed. Many buildings were built by ordinary people for ordinary purposes, but they help create a sense of place.
Osceola Historic Preservation Commission
A City Ordinance, in 2008, created the Osceola Historic Preservation Commission (OHPC) To be as active as possible, the commission applied for the city to be designated as a Certified Local Government (CLG) as soon as was permitted. Once certified, in 2009, the City and OHPC qualified for technical monetary grants for education, historic inventory and developing a Preservation Plan for the City.
Ann Diehl has been the President of the OHPC since inception. “One of the primary purposes of the commission is educating the public about the importance of preservation and how it creates a sense of history and story of the community. The commission also provides information and referrals to anyone seeking to restore and/or preserve their property and provide input to the City on any new city projects that include historic buildings or areas, when appropriate.”
Ann says one of the largest and most complicated projects the City and commission completed was the total restoration of the Osceola depot. The restoration project required the commission to write several grants, and because of the scope of it, took several years to complete. Phase one completed in 2009; grants were written for phase two and funding secured by 2014. Most of the phase two work was completed in 2015 and wrapped up in 2016.
Because of the partnership and hard work between the City and the OHPC, the Osceola Depot is on the National Register of Historic Places.
OHPC meetings are open to the public, but because of the pandemic, the five-member commission has not regularly met. According to Ann, they hope to soon begin, and the City will post the meetings. Other members include, Phil Coe, Duayne Fletcher, Julie Wilken, and Melissa Cline.
To help shine a light on the importance of Historic Preservation in Osceola, OCMS Executive Director, Ashleigh Eckels, created Historic Preservation Facebook activities for the last two weeks in May, “Osceola’s Commercial Historic District is full of unique buildings to showcase that bring history to our community. Join us on Facebook as we highlight and unveil fun history facts of our community."
Learn more about preservation here.