by Deb Del Valle
In 1931 Richard Huseman founded HGC Construction based on the values of quality and craftsmanship. Since then the locally-owned business has continued to play an important role in shaping Cincinnati’s future, not only by working on new buildings, but by working to preserve the past.
“When HGC was founded the city was not that old! So, it took some time for our role as preservationists to take shape,” says Mike Huseman, President of HGC Group of Companies and HGC Construction. “We have a long history of restoration becoming particularly notable in the 1970s when we restored a tornado-destroyed church in 1974 and renovated the historic Vernon Manor in 1978.”
Huseman is fascinated by the stories older buildings tell. It’s a passion shared by HGC Director of Marketing and Communications and Cincinnati Preservation Association (CPA) Trustee Paul Moran.
“I’ve been a history buff my whole life. I’ve always figured if you don’t know where you came from, it’s a lot easier to end up going backwards without even meaning to,” Moran says. “Great historic events are intrinsically tied to the places they occurred, so it makes sense to preserve those places and pass on the lessons from our past.”
Over the years HGC has spearheaded many historic projects to preserve those lessons including the Strietmann Center, the Cincinnati Enquirer offices and mixed-use restorations in Over-the-Rhine. While such projects come with many challenges, Huseman says it’s worth it to honor a building’s memories while bringing it into a thriving future.
“We’re fascinated by the metamorphoses seen when you factor in the impact of time on the socio-economic elements that create structures,” Huseman says. “What I mean by that is the way a building can be built in the 1800s for manufacturing, lose its original purpose, and then be reborn as office space, like the Strietmann Center. I enjoy seeing the original human capital expended in building the structure continue forward, impacting the community for years to come.”
“It’s not easy preserving historic buildings,” Moran adds. “There are a lot of elements to be considered. With CPA, you have an organization who can spearhead a lot of the passion that appears when a city tries to figure out what to do with its historic places.”
HGC is a long-time supporter of CPA, not just monetarily but also through expert advice and preservation advocacy.
“We’ve gained such a wealth of experience together, sharing our unique experiences and working together for excellent results,” notes Huseman. “It becomes a pay-it-forward experience as our collective efforts benefit the citizens of Cincinnati and beyond.”
Moran got even more involved joining the CPA board about two years ago. “I got involved because my dad instilled in me a great passion for Cincinnati history. He always said if you knew the history of the area, it would make every street come to life. I took that to heart, and when I was presented with the opportunity to get involved, it seemed like a great way to keep our streets alive.”
“(HGC’s) commitment to preservation parallels our commitment to the community,” Huseman adds. “We’re making sure our city’s stories are not lost, that we remember the many voices and faces that made this city the great place it is, but that we always have our eye on the future.”