Fort Piqua Plaza
Fort Piqua Plaza
Award Type: Honor Award
In 1891, when the Richardsonian Romanesque-style Fort Piqua Hotel was built at the intersection of High and Main Streets in downtown Piqua, the handsome and elegant building was an immediate sensation. Over the years, famous guests including Harry Houdini, Teddy Roosevelt and William Taft provided Piqua residents with even more pride in the city's best-known and most beloved building, once called a "poem in stone."
By the 1970s, though, the 85,000-square-foot building, once used as a hotel for transients and a bus depot, was all but vacant and had become a poster child for small-city urban decay. For two decades, developers approached the City about renovating the hotel, but all eventually backed away because of the enormous scope of the project. In 2001, the City of Piqua boldly stepped up to the plate, creating a nonprofit development corporation to transform the faded old hotel into a bright new home for the local library. Federal and state grants and tax credits helped move the massive effort forward, as did City funds and almost $4 million in private donations – a remarkable achievement in a community of 20,000 people.
The $20 million construction project began in January 2007 and culminated with a grand opening ceremony for the newly renamed Fort Piqua Plaza—complete with fireworks—in October 2008. In addition to the library, the building now houses a chocolate and coffee shop, a fine dining restaurant and a banquet facility. Local residents are thrilled to see the building's original grand staircase, stained-glass windows and chandelier meticulously preserved.
"There was every reason in the world why this project should have failed," said Richard Moe, president of the National Trust for Historic Preservation. "But every time an obstacle was placed in front of them, people in this small community came together to overcome it. The renovation of the Fort Piqua Hotel has restored community pride and demonstrated that there's no building more green or more sustainable than a historic building given new life."
Along with the City of Piqua, co-recipients honored for the restoration of the Fort Piqua Hotel are: Hotel/Library Legacy Alliance; Piqua Improvement Corporation; and Piqua Public Library.