GREENFIELD — When Gordon Harmon moved into his Victorian home at 412 N. State St. in Greenfield about seven years ago, he figured he’d find a renovation or two to keep him busy.

But in 2012, after peeling away some of the aluminum siding a previous homeowner had installed, he discovered that the original wooden paneling mounted to the home when it was built in 1861 was intact. It was then that Harmon, a craftsman with a penchant for preservation, knew he had his hands full.

Now three years into the renovation, replacing all of the exterior siding on the roughly 3,400-square-foot home, Harmon and his partner, Bonnie Piatt, were among a selection of local residents who received preservation awards from Greenfield Historic Landmarks on Sunday.

In all, the local nonprofit handed out five awards at its annual ceremony Sunday afternoon, which was conducted in the backyard of the James Whitcomb Riley Boyhood Home in Greenfield, 250 W. Main St. The number of awards can fluctuate from year to year, but the buildings recognized must be at least 50 years old, said Tom Strickland, a board member for the organization.

Story continues below gallery

This year’s selection recognized properties, both commercial and residential, that are either in the process of being restored or are being actively preserved.

Strickland said he sees the awards as a way of thanking residents for their efforts to restore and maintain the city’s historic architecture.

The old structures in and near Greenfield, along with the rich history of U.S. 40, contribute to the county’s heritage, Strickland said.

“We want to reward and recognize the people who are working to maintain our history in hopes of having others do the same,” Strickland said. “Once torn down, old buildings can’t just be rebuilt.”

Rosalie Richardson, a board member of the organization since its inception in the 1980s, said she wants to see more residents recognize the value of historic properties.

“We want the public to know that old houses can be attractive and livable,” said Richardson, who herself lives in a home built in 1893. “It’s fun to learn the history. It’s everywhere around us.”

The historic value is what first drew Harmon and Piatt to their property, a two-story home painted in shades of blue with a turret towering on the roof — all of which is original architecture.

While he and Piatt didn’t plan on undertaking such a tedious project when they moved in, he estimates he’s about 90 percent through the restoration, and it’s been time well-spent, Harmon said.

“In the beginning, I was thinking, ‘Oh wow, what am I getting myself into?’” he said with a hearty laugh. “But seeing it all come together, that’s what’s kept us going.”

About the awards

The owners of five historic Greenfield properties were honored at Greenfield Historic Landmark’s ceremony on Sunday.

Gordon Harmon and Bonnie Piatt received a “Restoration in Progress” award for their efforts to restore their 1861 home at 412 N. State St.

Jim Phillips received a “Commercial Restoration” award for the interior renovations he completed at the 1897 Herald Building in downtown Greenfield, 5 American Legion Place.

Wesley and Brandie Blagg received a “Residential Preservation” award for the repairs the couple made to their residence, 611 E. Main St., which was built around 1915.

Mark and Dana Galbraith received a “Residential Preservation” award for the time they’ve spent maintaining their home, 23 N. Wood St., which was built around 1900.

Theo Bowman and Jody Webb received a “Residential Preservation” award for various improvements they’ve made to their home at 505 N. State St., which was built around 1860.

Author photo
Daniel Morgan is a reporter at the Greenfield Daily Reporter. He can be reached at (317) 477-3228 or