About the Historic Plaque Program
In 1971, John Lea, then president of the Wayne County Historical Society, created the Landmark committee to identify the historical sites in Wayne County, Ohio because so many historical buildings had been destroyed in the name of progress, by fire, by wanton destruction, or by pernicious vandalism. Led by Russell Frey, the committee developed the idea into a 1976 Bicentennial project to gather information about historical structures in Wayne County. They were among the first groups in Ohio to initiate a Bicentennial project. The Wayne County Historical Society issued a call for all citizens within the county to help identify and catalog any properties, buildings, or structures they felt had a historical significance.
The response was overwhelming! It soon became clear to the Landmark committee that many properties, homes, and buildings in Wayne County were well over 100 years old and were eligible for historic consideration. However, after reviewing the submissions from Wayne County citizens, the committee observed that many of the buildings and structures simply did not possess any real degree of historical significance. Since there were really no rules set by local or state governments at the time, they came up with a set of guidelines that are still in use to this day to designate what is considered a historic property within Wayne County, Ohio.
They decided upon three separate categories: County Historical Landmark, Pioneer House, and Century House. Structures that were nominated and met all the requirements upon review were listed in the Wayne County Historical Society’s Register and the owners were eligible, at their own cost, to order a historical site plaque that noted their official designation and the year the plaque was awarded. There were no restrictions on what the owner could do to the house because it bore a historic site marker plaque. Also, the home could not fail to qualify for a historic site plaque because the owner had changed some of its initial features or added on to the structure.
In 2012, the Landmark Committee made two changes to the program. To qualify as a Pioneer House, the structure had to have been built before 1900. Any house that was built in 1900 or later and was 100 years old qualified for the new 100-Year-Old House designation. The plaque for the new designation bears the year of the construction and the year the plaque was awarded.
The Wayne County Historical Society Landmark register or list can be found online here: http://waynehistoricalohio.org/research/wa-co-historical-landmark-list/
Current Landmark Plaque Categories
Note: The original guidelines written by the Landmark Committee of the Wayne County Historical Society in 1976 were updated by the Landmark Committee in April 2001, and “Boyhood” was changed to “childhood” in November 2011. The definitions follow:
- Pioneer House – A house or residence that is 100 years old or more and was built before 1900.
- 100-Year-Old House – A house or residence that was built in 1900 or later and is at least 100 years old.
- Century House – A house or residence that is 100 years old or more and has been continuously owned by the same family/bloodline.
- County Historical Landmark– Building or home that is 100 years old or more and has special architectural, cultural, or historic value; or Site, district, or object of historic importance (100+ years old).
- Buildings and Structures which have important associations with notable personages, events and movements; and/or have superlative architectural, engineering, or artistic features of period style, movement, school, original contribution or mode of construction.Residences of important persons during their formative years of childhood or their productive years should be given greater emphasis than birthplaces. Cemeteries are usually excluded unless they contain some notable tombstone artistry. Churches may qualify if they possess architectural or historical rather than theological significance.
- Sites having outstanding, unique or irreplaceable prehistoric or historic features and having been the location of an important occurrence, event or discovery.
- Districts containing two or more structures, buildings and sites which together may possess greater architectural or historical significance than any one of their parts, and which form a cohesive unit.
- Objects important in the history of the area or having artistic, scientific, other value.
On this web page find out how to register your house, building, site, district, or object with the Wayne County Historical Society and, if you wish, to apply for a plaque.
The Landmark committee’s initial work of cataloging the historic properties in Wayne County culminated in 1976 with the publication of the book Historic Heritage of Wayne County, Ohio, in which 256 historic buildings and houses were listed with a brief history and photograph of each. Since publication of the book in 1976, a number of new houses have been registered and added to the list of historic places in Wayne County, Ohio, and a few have since been destroyed. We are presently working to bring the information online.
Quick Info Pertaining to National Register of Historic Places
Since the time in which our local historical society defined their guidelines for a county landmark program many government agencies have defined historic properties as more than just buildings. The National Register recognizes five categories of historic properties: they are buildings, structures, sites, objects, and districts.
There are three evaluation standards that historic properties must meet in order to be listed in the National Register. The property must be at least 50 years old, retain its basic historic integrity and meet one of the four established National Register criteria. These criteria are as follows: the property must have significance for its association with broad patterns of history, have association with the lives of persons significant in our past, have architectural merit, or have the potential to yield information important in history or prehistory (archaeology). To view the National Register of Historic Places listings for Wayne County, Ohio see http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/National_Register_of_Historic_Places_listings_in_Wayne_County,_Ohio