The Old House Guild of Sandusky is a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and adaptive use of Sandusky’s historic structures.


Our Past…

The Old House Guild of Sandusky was founded in 1978 by a group of citizens who realized that unless they took direct action, the legacy of period architecture and beautiful old buildings would eventually disappear over time. First, under the leadership of Ellie Damm, Sanduskians formed the Guild as a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation, restoration, and adaptive use of the historic buildings, houses, sites, and objects in Sandusky. Second, the Guild conducted a comprehensive inventory of Sandusky’s historic structures for the Ohio Historical Society (now known as the Ohio History Connection) in 1979. A supplemental list was added in 1983 along with the submission of over 100 successful applications to place many buildings on the National Register of Historic Places, including two historic districts.

The Old House Guild has received awards and recognition from the Ohio Preservation Office, the Ohio Association of Historical Societies and Museums, and the American Association for State and Local History for its contributions to the preservation of Sandusky’s heritage.

Our Present…

The Old House Guild is an all-volunteer preservation organization that engages the Sandusky community in a variety of activities and events aligned with our mission. The annual Christmas Candlelight Tour of Homes provides the public with a rare glimpse into many of Sandusky’s vintage homes. As site management of the historic Cooke-Dorn House we provide tours throughout the tourist season and host events such as an antique appraisal fair on the grounds of the museum.

We are activists and engage with the city to protect historical structures from decay and destruction. In November of 2019, the Guild acquired the historic Johnson House on Columbus Avenue to save it from deterioration. Organizational funds along with a grant from the city allowed us to replace the roof, restore new electrical service, pump water out of the basement, deconstruct apartment kitchens and thoroughly clean the interior. The property was then sold to a private owner and has since been restored to an excellent condition.

The Guild can provide advice on preservation issues at no charge. Helpful websites and video playlists are listed on this site. The city also has resources including grants to assist property owners in the rehabilitation of their homes

Our Future…

Many buildings in our city are candidates for restoration, preservation, or adaptive use. The Guild is concerned with structures whose original function has passed. How do we best incorporate them into the 21st century? Several developers have worked with the city to design new buildings that connect to the past. An excellent example is the Hogrefe Building downtown, rebuilt on the site of the former Cooke Building. The architect replicated the curved corner wall along with the rounded window tops of the Cooke design.

In a partnership with the City of Sandusky, the Guild will be working with the Ohio Preservation Office to expand the historic inventory, reaching out to properties that now qualify for consideration, having passed the 50-year benchmark since 1979. The added stock of historic structures will most certainly increase the number being listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

The Guild acts as a catalyst in achieving the orderly preservation of our community. Because we are a non-profit organization, any funds received for preservation projects are used to achieve that goal.

Community Commitment

America has a long history of building, tearing down, and building again. Only recently have we begun to actively recycle our national resources. We believe this recycling should apply to using our old buildings to their fullest potential.

This is a constant challenge if we wish to retain those tangible signs of the past that will enrich future generations. It is a challenge we must all address or risk the loss of a significant part of our heritage.

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