The Historic Preservation Commission is excited to celebrate May as National Historic Preservation Month. The month celebrates the nation's heritage through historic places. Preservation is about protecting the sites and structures that represent meaningful history to our community and the generations to come. The City's Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) is excited to take this month to learn about our buildings, our town, and the histories that have shaped them!
Did you know?
Bowling Green, known initially as Mt. Arafat, was settled by pioneer Elisha Martindale in 1833 when he claimed 40 acres of land in Ohio's Great Black Swamp. A year later, a postal carrier named the newly settled area after his hometown in Kentucky. The draining of the swamp with massive ditches revealed rich farmland, which was also attractive to settlers. In 1855, Bowling Green was formed as an incorporated village and later, in 1870, became the seat of Wood County. In 1880, only about 1,539 people resided in the town, but Bowling Green experienced tremendous growth in the mid-1880s by discovering natural gas and oil. Free gas attracted five glass-making companies, bringing about the town's temporary moniker "Crystal City." The gas and oil boom attracted innovation and spurred further business and residential growth. In 1888, the town consisted of three newspapers, six churches, two banks, and several manufacturing businesses. The town's four largest employers were gas companies in 1888, with two railroads connecting the community. In 1901, Bowling Green was given "city" designation upon reaching a population of over 5,000. It later became an education center, with the establishment of State Normal College (now called Bowling Green State University) in 1910.
Many historic buildings and districts have stood the test of time, such as the Wood County Courthouse (built-in 1896, placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974), Downtown Bowling Green (placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1980), and Boomtown (placed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987).
Today, Bowling Green is a thriving community whose past is reflected in a vibrant, carefully preserved downtown and surrounding residential neighborhoods. This university City boasts a manufacturing-based economy and a firm dedication to the arts and local history.
How are we celebrating Preservation Month?
The HPC has created a Downtown Bowling Green Scavenger Hunt throughout May. Any age can participate by obtaining a copy of the scavenger hunt here or a hard copy at the City Administration Building (304 North Church Street), Wood County District Public Library (251 North Church Street), Juniper Brewing Company (145 South Main Street), or the Downtown Bowling Green S.I.D. office (217 South Church Street). Enjoy a walk in our beautiful town while noting the historic buildings and their unique architecture. Completed scavenger hunts can be submitted to the places listed above by the end of May for the chance to win a gift card from Juniper Brewing Company!
The HPC will highlight a historic building, site, or district each week in May. A description of the building or district, location, and history with a picture will be featured. It is exciting to learn about all the rich history of this area! After Preservation Month concludes, the HPC will be requesting nominations of historic buildings or sites the community would like to see featured monthly in the City e-news. Please consider submitting your ideas here.
Also, just following Historic Preservation Month, the Wood County District Public Library is hosting a Boomtown Walking Tour! You'll love this informative walking tour if you're a local history buff or looking to learn more about Wood County. Join Local History Librarian Marnie Pratt and Wood County Museum Director Kelli Kling for a tour through history to learn about some of the famous places and faces of Wood County's Boomtown Era. This tour is Saturday, June 11, 2022, from 10:00 a.m. to 11:00 a.m. This tour meets in the Bowling Green Library Atrium, rain or shine. Registration is required. To register, call (419) 352-5050, email, or fill out the form on their website.
For any questions about the Historic Preservation Month activities, call the Planning Department at (419) 354-6218.