Ellen Shurson gained both the knowledge and the confidence to tackle a restoration project at one of the first Restore Omaha conferences. With the help of keynote speaker John Leeke, a Portland, Maine preservationist, Shurson restored the portal window in her home in the Gifford Park neighborhood to its original beauty.
“Every year I garner some valuable information that has helped solve a restoration issue,” said Shurson. She will be one of many repeat attendees who gather on February 28 at Metropolitan Community College’s South Campus to take part in the 10th annual Restore Omaha Conference.
“We’re pleased that so many of our attendees are repeat customers,” said Restoration Exchange Omaha Executive Director Kristine Gerber, who has been a part of the conference throughout its duration. “I think it reflects the variety of our content, the perspectives that our presenters bring, and the changing landscape of codes, taxes, and laws that govern historic preservation.”
Luther Larson, a retired IT Professional who is restoring his home in Gifford Park, is another previous attendee who will be back. “I have learned a lot at the conferences over the years that I have been able to put to use in my home restoration efforts. For instance, how to remove and fix a double-hung window, or the proper way to paint an exterior,” Larson said. “The ability to share unique restoration challenges with like-minded individuals is the conference benefit that keeps me attending year after year.”
This year’s conference kicks off on Friday, February 27, at The Pella at Blackstone at 41st and Harney Streets. The former Pella Lutheran Church building—saved with support from REO—was recently restored into a conference and reception venue. “Preservation Speed Dating” will give about five attendees a chance to talk about a preservation, restoration or rehabilitation problem they need help with in front of hundreds of preservationists. Those in the crowd can then share their knowledge and insight about the issue.
On Saturday, February 28. Buffalo, New York preservationist Bernice Radle will discuss the evolution of her city’s preservation movement in the keynote address. Radle is a rising star in the preservation movement. She was a winner of a 2014 award bestowed by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. She is a project manager at Buffalo Energy, and has overseen more than 150 energy efficiency projects.
Radle, with her husband Jason Wilson, owns Buffalove Development, which focuses on buying and renovating vacant or underused properties and turning them into cool, urban spaces. They will headline HGTV historic renovation series American Rehab Buffalo this spring.
Radle will share her expertise at two breakout sessions. In the first, she’ll explain nontraditional reasons for preservation and show how education, passion, and hard work direct their efforts. She will also share how Buffalove effectively uses state and federal historic tax credits in redeveloping blighted properties. Other breakout sessions will explore the use of real estate tools to save historic properties and how conservation overlay districts can revitalize and protect historic neighborhoods. Some sessions deal with grittier realities of home ownership, such as basement refinishing, plumbing issues, and brick and mortar repointing. There will be morning and afternoon hands-on sessions, where participants can learn about stucco and window restoration, wood selection and historic hardware, among other topics.
Breaks provide opportunities to visit with vendors and local craftsmen. It all ends with the Restore Jam, where attendees are invited to share before-and-after photos of their own restoration project. Attendees will have five minutes to present five slides to the audience. Restore Jam participants will receive one free admission to the Restore Omaha Conference (a $50 value). Those interested in participating can contact Restore Jam Coordinator, Craig Moore, via email – firstname.lastname@example.org by Feb. 22.