Once in a while there is an individual whose dedication to the field of historic preservation goes above and beyond ordinary expectations. The Cleveland Restoration Society (CRS) makes a point to recognize these champions with The Robert C. Gaede Lifetime Achievement Award. On Tuesday, May 24th, during CRS and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) Cleveland’s 2016 Celebration of Preservation, Patricia S. Eldredge was presented with this prestigious award in recognition of her lifetime commitment to historic preservation.
Cleveland’s senior statesman in heritage architecture, Bob Gaede defined the field in his day. In his honor, The Robert C. Gaede Lifetime Achievement Award celebrates individual efforts to preserve landmarks and to foster appreciation for the legacy of our built environment.
Armed with a degree in American Civilization from Mills College, Pat Eldredge embarked upon a life dedicated to historic preservation starting in Morristown, New Jersey in 1965. As a young mother, she balanced home with community as a trustee of the Morris County Historical Society. There she became friends with Mary Crane Hone, a legendary beauty and Broadway stage actress, the final generation to live in Acorn Hall, her family’s magnificent 1853 in-town estate. The family was rightfully proud of its distinguished history and kept the interiors of Acorn Hall untouched over the generations. Mary, as the final blood relative, was determined that the home be preserved as a museum.
With Mary’s blessing, Pat set about on her first major preservation project. She readied Acorn Hall to be opened to the public by cataloging its contents, treating the house and grounds for preservation into the future and developing educational materials for the public, among other duties. Over this period, Pat commuted to Columbia University’s then-new and now-famous historic preservation graduate school. Mentored by one of the founding fathers of Historic Preservation in America, James Marston Fitch, Pat pursued a classical education in heritage conservation to knowledgably carry out her commitment to Mary Crane Hone and the Morristown community to the highest standards of the day.
When her husband, Bill, was transferred to the Cleveland headquarters of the Sherwin-Williams Company, Pat again launched into community preservation work. From their 1878 home in Hudson, Pat dedicated herself to the preservation of this extraordinary town. She was a fourteen-year member of Hudson’s Architectural and Historic Review Board and served on the commission that oversaw the integration of new development so as not to disturb the historic Main Street. She and other citizens purchased the last farmstead in Hudson, the Case-Barlow Farm, thereby protecting it from development. Pat worked tirelessly with Hudson Heritage Association to qualify Hudson for the National Register of Historic Places, a rigorous process. She co-chaired the committee that completed thorough research on each historic building entered into the Register. She was President of the Ohio Preservation Alliance for six years and also editor of its newsletter.
At the Sherwin-Williams Company, Pat initiated its first corporate archive and became its color historian. Gathering dust were numerous vintage corporate items one step away from the trash bin. Pat understood that the materials told the history of the company, and, indeed, the history of paint. Pat convinced corporate executives to allow her to catalog and conserve the materials. After arming herself with a Certificate in Archives Management from the National Archives, Pat proceeded to catalog and conserve a treasure trove of color cards. This large resource documents the numerous colors favored by architects and designers over the course of American history during the early days of paint. The earliest cards were from 1870.
With this incredible resource at hand, Pat created a series of historic paint publications that are now standards in the industry. Her work has guided millions of homeowners desiring an authentic approach to paint color. This Sherwin-Williams resource has also guided color choices by countless historic homeowners in thousands of historic districts and numerous heritage museums during the expansion of historic preservation in the United States. Always generous with her time and knowledge, Pat has consulted on many of these projects. Pat has authored books and articles, and lectured widely on architecture and historic color. The artifacts she saved now form the backbone of Sherwin-Williams’ corporate museum at its Center for Excellence.
Pat’s commitment to historic preservation has touched other organizations, including the Ohio History Connection where she was a trustee and president of the board. She recently was recognized by The Ohio History Connection for her leadership. As an honorary life trustee and former vice president, she has been a dedicated force at the Cleveland Restoration Society as well. She led the interior design of CRS’s Sarah Benedict House when it opened in 1999, specifying a perfect palate of period colors.
Pat Eldredge has been a determined historic preservation civic leader and professional in the field whose quiet wisdom and generosity of spirit has earned her the distinction of this Lifetime Achievement Award. We salute Pat and thank her for fifty years of sustained commitment to historic preservation.
The Cleveland Restoration Society is a private non-profit organization founded in 1972 dedicated to utilizing the powerful tools of historic preservation to revitalize our diverse communities, strengthen the regional economy, and enhance the quality of life in northeastern Ohio. A local partner of the National Trust for Historic Preservation, CRS assists individual property owners and local community leaders with historic preservation issues and advocates for policy changes that would protect historic properties.
Photo caption, above: (L to R) Kathleen Crowther, President, Cleveland Restoration Society, Pat Eldredge, Gretchen Gaede at the “Celebration of Preservation Awards 2016.”