Look Here! photography project highlights Covington's architecture and history


Local nonprofit Renaissance Covington works to socially and economically revitalize downtown Covington for everyone. This effort takes many forms — from the installation of temporary micro-parks called parklets, to beautification projects to planning community-centric arts and cultural events.

From Nov. 2016 until April 2017, this effort also includes an innovative photography project called Look Here!

Look Here! is a free, outdoor photography exhibit scattered throughout Covington’s central business district and MainStrasse Village. Partnering closely with the Kenton County Public Library, Renaissance Covington selected 50 historical photographs depicting Covington landmarks that span a 100-year period. A total of 50 photos were selected in commemoration of the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act, which created the National Register of Historic Places.

The photos are mounted at points of interest throughout Covington, available for discovery by passing pedestrians.

According to Renaissance Covington's Executive Director Katie Meyer, the project is a “low-cost, high-impact” way to promote walkability and elevate 100 years of architecture, reinvention and development in Covington.

Taken collectively, the photos serve as a tour through time, giving context to the present landscape of architecture and buildings that make up Covington’s core. “We’re very lucky that we have such a great inventory of historic buildings in good shape,” Meyer said. "Look Here! helps to change the narrative around Covington and highlight our assets."

The project was made possible through close collaboration with the City of Covington. Emily Ahouse, preservation and planning specialist with the city, got on board with the project right away and championed it at City Hall, helping Renaissance Covington to secure the necessary permissions to install Look Here! photos on durable signage that could hold up to the elements.

Look Here! Covington is the second installation of its kind. In late 2015 and early 2016, Anne Delano Steinert, a doctoral student of urban and public history at the University of Cincinnati, received funding from People’s Liberty to install the first iteration of the project in Over-the-Rhine.

She was inspired to bring the first Look Here! public history photography exhibit to the streets of OTR with the hope of promoting neighborhood exploration in a widely-accessible format that highlights the historical value of the neighborhood. Delano Steinert served as an advisor on the new Look Here! installation, offering her learnings and expertise to the Renaissance Covington team.
 
“My whole goal on the project was that it would be replicable and simple enough that any community could take it up,” Delano Steinert said.

Since completing the OTR project, she has spoken with historical preservation societies and groups in Maryland and Ohio, including community groups from other Cincinnati neighborhoods. Delano Steinert was thrilled to see the Look Here! project happen in Covington. “It came to life in the best possible way,” she said.

For a full map of Look Here! Covington sites, check out the Renaissance Covington website, and visit its Facebook page to stay up-to-date with Look Here!
 

Read more articles by Kamal Kimball.

Kamal Kimball is a freelance writer and co-founder of Ampersand Creative Services.
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