On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend the Restore Omaha conference as a volunteer and cover the events and speakers. Restore Omaha is an annual conference centered on restoring older and historical homes, promoting green energy alternatives, and implementing energy efficient renovations to existing homes.
It was an educational experience, to say the least. The opening address was given by Arnie Breslow, who recently restored the Cornish residence on 10th and William Street in Omaha. He detailed how, over the last 13 years, he dedicated his weekends and holidays to restoring the French Second Empire-style house, built in 1886. The Cornish house is just one of several houses that Breslow has restored in the Omaha area.
After the first session was a lunch break followed by the keynote address from Patricia Gay, Executive Director of the Preservation Resource Center of New Orleans. Gay highlighted several similarities, as well as a few differences, between New Orleans and Omaha and their respective preservation and restoration efforts. She spend a great deal of time focused on federal and state legislation that can aid restoration projects, and how restoration projects can help stem problems of urban blight and actually be a financial boon to a city.
Before and after the keynote address were dozens of mini “breakout sessions,” dealing with a more specific topic related to classic homes and homeownership. I attended classes on electric safety given by a local contractor, Tom Taylor. I saw a history of the “modernist” movement in architecture, given by Paula Mohr of the Iowa State Preservation Office, and ended the day with a sneak peak of the newly improved reEnergize program, a collaborative effort between Omaha and Lincoln to improve energy efficiency in old homes.
In between there were plenty of opportunities to meet local merchants and enthusiasts, and lots of networking opportunities. I happened to meet the son of a UNO alumni who ran the UNO Gateway for many years, and a number of other interesting people.
I spent over seven hours at the convention and it flew by. I look forward to it next year, and encourage anyone who plans on owning a home or currently owns a home to attend as well.