Keynote Speaker: Patricia Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans

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Keynote Speaker Video

Inspiring and teaching attendees to restore older properties was the theme for the seventh annual Restore Omaha Conference, Saturday, March 3, 2012 at Metropolitan Community College’s South Campus at 27th and Q streets.The event opened with a Friday night reception in midtown Omaha drawing 477 people to view rehabilitated apartments along Park Avenue.Attendees toured four two-bedroom apartments at The Barnard Flats, a 1902 building at 804 Park Ave. designed by John Latenser, and also viewed an apartment in the nearby Art Deco’s apartment buildings along Park Avenue and visited a rehabilitated home at 3126 Marcy St. Urban Village Development, developer of the properties, sponsored the event and CRAVE restaurant at Midtown Crossing passed delectable hors d’oeuvres and desserts to those in attendance.On Saturday 310 people attended the Restore Omaha conference. Opening the event was Arnie Breslow, a local enthusiast who has painstakingly restored the Joel N. Cornish mansion at 10th and William streets built in 1886. He detailed the process of restoring such a complex home, which took him over 20 years of weekends and holidays.

Keynote speaker was Patricia Gay (image to the left), executive director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans  . Gay has been at the forefront of restoring homes damaged by Hurricane Katrina in 2005.  In her keynote address she praised Omaha for its bold strategy in promoting restoration and energy-efficiency projects for old and historical homes.  She also outlined several similarities between New Orleans and Omaha, including our roots as planned cities adjacent to major waterways.  One big difference, however, is that Omaha has been increasing in population for several decades now, while New Orleans and other major cities have experienced declining populations.  This, says Gay, is a big problem.“Population loss is a national disaster,” said Gay, one that leads to a wide variety of other social and urban problems. Yet it is one that she maintains can be solved in part through restoration projects and raising awareness through conventions such a Restore Omaha.Attendees also could choose from 16 break-out sessions to attend.

Topics included updating electrical systems, historic hardware, restoring brick, making older homes more energy efficient, National Register nominations, chimney repair, neighborhood conservation overlays, Midcentury Modern architecture and case studies on the restoration of a Gifford Park home and a home in Red Oak, Iowa. Morning and afternoon breaks, live demonstrations by craftsmen along with a Restoration Jam at the end of the day allowed for opportunities to network and to gather ideas and solutions from other restoration-minded property owners and from the 35 businesses and organizations exhibiting at the event.The conference was made possible with support from Metropolitan Community College, the Omaha Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, B.G. Peterson Co., the reEnergize Program, The Reader, The Architectural Offices and Urban Village Development.

Additional Speakers

  • Alesha Hauser – Historian, LEED AP BD+C, National Park Service
  • Christina A. Jansen – Project Manager; Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture
  • Daric O’Neal – Homeowner, Project Manager; Alley Poyner Macchietto Architecture
  • David Lawrence – Lawrence Paint Co.
  • Gina Basile – Owner/Operator of B & B Properties and Arnie Breslow, Restoration Specialist
  • Jim Dolby & Darien Henderson – Project Managers; Building Restoration
  • Jim Lindberg – Director of Preservation Initiatives and Rural Heritage Coordinator; National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Julie A. Reilly – Conservator
  • Kara Henner Eastman – Executive Director; Omaha Healthy Kids Alliance
  • Kristi Wamstad-Evans – LEED AP, City of Omaha, Sustainability Coordinator
  • Martin Janousek & Rob Janousek – Gifford Park Developers
  • Nate Griffith – Owner and Refurbisher of 4 vintage houses
  • Paula A. Mohr – Architectural Historian; Iowa State Historic Preservation Office
  • Roger Koch – Collector of Old House Stuff and Owner; Roger’s Shop (Architectural Salvage), Sioux Falls, S.D.
  • Ryan Reed – Preservation Specialist; Landmarks Association of St. Louis
  • Tom Taylor – Electrical Contractor
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