About this project
When local politicians opt to destroy a community's historic structures, it robs future generations of a part of its identity.
"DECOMMISSIONED: Final Days of the 1884 Seneca County Courthouse" is a 200-page, pictorial book that follows the day-to-day demolition of the massive Beaux Arts-style courthouse that stood in the center of historic downtown Tiffin, Ohio, for 127 years. To date, it is the only Ohio courthouse on the National Register of Historic Places ever to be razed.
The book begins with an overview of the 10-year battle between preservationists and politicians in regard to renovation vs. demolition. Even Ohio Gov. John Kasich requested that the commissioners refrain from demolishing such a grand structure.
The body of the book is a heart-breaking reality check of what can happen when people choose not to take on the proverbial City Hall. Interspersed throughout are the harsh reminders that two commissioners also chose to not to salvage the valuable carved woodwork and irreplaceable Vermont limestone tiles that gave the palace of justice its distinctive opulence. The reader will have a first-hand look at those rare artifacts being ripped from the building or left to flounder in a sea of debris.
"DECOMMISSIONED" is a must-have for preservation-minded individuals everywhere. As a teaching tool, it is a study about the importance of preserving our historic structures. For those with architectural interests, this is a rare find as the book offers the reader unique cross-section views of the courthouse's sturdy construction and architectural details.
ANY DONATION — NO MATTER HOW SMALL — CAN HELP MAKE THIS BOOK A REALITY!
Judging from the pre-publication interest, this is a book that will sell well. However, because it is a hardback with full process color, the cost for printing 1,000 copies is well over $25,000. We are currently selling pre-orders. We are also holding a raffle for the No. 1 signed copy. Although that will amass some funds, it simply won't be enough to cover the entire printing costs.
We also will be holding a dinner fundraiser where we plan to auction several framed prints along with several pieces of the architectural artifacts.
It's too late for those in Seneca County, but with your help, we can make the 1884 courthouse an example of what happens when a building that was "built for the centuries" is reduced to rubble. Perhaps it will prevent others from making the same mistake.
Risks and challenges
"DECOMMISSIONED" is a work that is in the final editing stages. It has been written and edited by a group of professionals. Lisa Swickard is an award-winning writer; John E. Huss is a highly respected architect; and photo editor/art designer Allan Detrich is a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee. Therefore, the risks involved in completing the project are virtually nonexistent. This is a project that will come to fruition.
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Our greatest challenge is the lack of funds to produce a venture such as this. The book will be 200 pages with 260 photos, almost all of which are in full color (except the pre-demolition protest photos). Because it is a hardback, 11-inch by 13-inch coffee-table book, the printing and shipping price is well over $25,000 for the limited-edition 1,000 books.
This is destined to be an important book — not just locally — but for city and county governments as well as preservation societies everywhere.
At this point, if we have to personally cover the printing costs, we will have to pass some of that cost on to our readers. That will result in the books retailing at at least $75. If we raise more than $20,000, we want to lower the price of the book so that it can be affordable by a larger segment of the population. We believe a love of history and preservation should be shared across all socioeconomic backgrounds.
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