by Congressman Michael Turner (OH-03)
May has been chosen as National Historic Preservation Month by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. From the Wright Brothers’ home at Hawthorn Hill to the Bell’s Opera House in Hillsboro, Southwest Ohio has been greatly blessed to be the home of so much history. It is critical that we work to preserve our community’s history so that future generations may enjoy the same cultural benefits that we have. Throughout my time in public service, I have been proud to support efforts to preserve our history on both the local and the national level.
As Mayor of the City of Dayton, I focused on historic preservation as an economic development tool. Upon being elected to Congress, I founded and was named co-chair of the Congressional Historic Preservation Caucus. The Caucus focuses on issues such as rehabilitating historic buildings and districts, promoting heritage tourism, preserving community landmarks, restoring downtown areas, historic towns and underused historic housing. The Caucus has also been the starting point for important historic preservation legislation.
Late in 2007, I had the opportunity to join with First Lady Laura Bush and Senator Hillary Clinton at the historic Sewall-Belmont House in Washington, D.C. to announce The Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act. Both First Ladies are deeply committed to the cause of historic preservation and have committed significant time and resources to starting the programs that are named in the bill.
The Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act would make permanent two very important historic preservation programs. Save America’s Treasures was created in 1998 by President Bill Clinton and provides “bricks and mortar” support to preserve historic preservation structures. Save America’s Treasures provides grants for projects that preserve nationally significant collections and historic properties. Preserve America was created in 2001 by President George W. Bush to be used in collaboration with Save America’s Treasures to help increase historic tourism. Communities that receive the Preserve America designation are eligible to apply for grants for projects that demonstrate public-private partnerships and enhance heritage tourism, which supports the local economy. Because both programs were created by executive order, they are dependent upon another executive order for their continued existence. The Preserve America and Save America’s Treasures Act would make both of these cornerstone historic preservation programs permanent.
Historic preservation is about protecting our history, architectural accomplishments and the fabric of our communities. It is an important economic development tool for many communities. Historic Preservation Month is a good opportunity to recognize the importance of historic preservation, and I am committed to working with my colleagues in Congress and leaders in our community to protect our heritage and preserve our history.
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