Placing Timken High School on the Historic Registry

(I originally wrote this post for the McKinley Presidential Library blog run by Mark Holland. You can see the original post here)

Our team and a few special guests want to take you on a behind the scenes interview of how Timken Senior High School (TSHS) became one of buildings on the National Historic Registry (NHR). We want to give you an example of a building in Canton, Ohio that was placed on the NHR, and how Stark County citizens with the help of people and resources accomplished their preservation goals. Our Intern Samantha, Research Volunteer Tom Haas, and Archivist Mark Holland spoke with Nancy George, part of the Timken Alumni Association, and Jeff Brown, Historic Preservation Administer and former Canton Preservation office employee of the Ohio Historical Society (now the Ohio History Connection OHC in Columbus, Ohio).

Nancy George spoke to us about her personal journey and process of how TSHS was placed on the NHR. Her connection to the high school comes from her father, who attended Timken as a student, was then a teacher there for 30+ years and was also on the Board of Education. Working with the Timken Alumni Association, she gathered some of her close friends to act as her support committee and help with the process. Now is where the fun starts and they actually go to the Ohio History Connection website to fill out the questionnaire (Preliminary Application). This is quite a lengthy process and you have to figure out the significance of your building and why it is important to the community. There are many options to choose from and that can be a process in itself because it can be a hard decision to choose what your property qualifies as:

A. Importance/role in history,                   B. Development of community

C. Architecture/art/construction               D. Prehistoric

In the end, Nancy choose options A and C to submit the Timken building as in her preliminary questionnaire. She also had to submit the criteria that made Timken eligible for the NHR:

  • Site designated for education by Bezaleel Wells—5th school on site—present building continuous use as a school for 80 years (longest time for a building on this site)
  • Art Deco architecture—by Charles Firestone
  • Art Deco art by Frank Marchione, Timken student, immigrant from Italy
  • Philanthropy of H. H. Timken and family
  • One of first vocational schools in the nation
  • Site of training for adults for jobs during World War II and for veterans after the war.
  • Open 24 hours 7 days a week to train 5,000 workers for national defense. After WWII, trained 2,500 veterans from 3 counties for new jobs.

Thankfully, Nancy and her team received their nomination to continue the process in September, but it wasn’t easy. They then received a Dropbox link where they began to look through a very long PDF compiled of all the strict procedures along with examples and considerations. By looking through the PDF, they were able to think of new aspects of the building that they hadn’t thought of before. So they began to research and type out their first draft of their application to submit. The process of figuring out what information is correct and what was incorrect be tricky, but they were lucky to have various research locations in Stark County, like our Presidential Library and the Genealogy Department at the Stark County District Library. After submitting their first rough draft in March, Nancy and her team were assigned someone that would help them edit their submission so that it was coherent and followed the strict format the board is looking for. Their editor on the staff of the OHC helped them out greatly by making sure that there was enough information in each section and correcting grammar, research, and other errors. They made the final edits in June and then the final submission was sent to Columbus in September. There is a waiting period where the officials have to notify the state representatives, local officials and the property owner (which can be waived if needed). After the submission is sent out, the board received hard copies of the photographs of the building and digital copies of the submission.

Now, it comes down to the meeting in Columbus with the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board. Their editor creates a presentation for the board to listen to and make their decisions based upon, along with providing hard criticism because not every building can be submitted officially into the NHR.  Before Nancy’s presentation, the board was very intense and hard on the other nominations. When Nancy’s nomination was reviewed, the board fell silent and their reaction was quite positive compared to the other presentations. It was a big shock to Nancy after watching the board criticize every presentation before hers. The board approved her nomination and now it is in the process of going to Washington, D.C. for the U.S. Department of the Interior officials to approve it once and for all.

It was a very hard and lengthy process for Nancy and her team to go through, but in the end, it was well worth it. If you are looking to place a local building on the NHR, Nancy has some advice for people:

  1. Save everything: everything you research and keep a running bibliography so you know where to look
  2. Use your local resources! Museums and libraries are great sources of information
  3. Follow the format to the end, it is so important that everything is in the specific format required
  4. Use Word!—Ohio History will email you with your application marked up in Review mode (shared editing). You are expected to reply to and provide additional information right in the document. If you have not done this before, you can get some training.
  5. Maps- You will need to show the board where your building is and any other locations that they want. The editing that you will do to a Google map doesn’t transmit digitally as a Word document. You may need to print/scan your maps or you can upload your photo to Google Drive, open up Google Drawing by right-clicking on the screen, and then you can upload your photo to the app and add any arrows or lines you might need to make. Then save it and when you upload it into Word, your arrows won’t move because they are a part of the actual photograph.
  6. Photos—Required pixels. You might have some photos that don’t meet the requirements for pixel size. Rather than going back to your property and taking more pictures, you can increase the photo by: opening your photograph in Paint, go to resize—pixels—put in desired pixels as required (2000 or whatever is required). It will automatically increase the other pixel accordingly. Then save your photograph.
  7. Keep track of where you took pics, angles/views. Historic Registry will require certain pictures of each side of the building. Make a note of direction because you must put this on each picture, in a log, and create a map of the property with photos numbered and arrows pointing from where you took the pic to the photo area.
  8. You want to save your photographs as TIFFs, not as JPEGs—Save copy of photo as TIFF also when you have the correct pixels. Open with Paint. Under Save AS—scroll down to TIFF. Make sure each photo is saved in JPEG and TIFF.
  9. You have to order your own plaques for the building (the Timken Alumni Association funded their own plaques)

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