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Remembering Jim

By Nancy Recchie ~

Columbus Landmarks will be announcing the winner of the 30th James B. Recchie Design Award on Thursday, October 17th. The first award was given in 1984 in memory of Jim Recchie, one of Landmarks’ founding members, who passed away after a battle with lung cancer. This award is one of the signature programs of Columbus Landmarks. A number of people have been asking, who was Jim Recchie and why was this award named in his honor?

I am Jim’s sister and would like to tell you a few things about my beloved brother. Jim was my older brother and one of my best friends. Three years separated us, which may explain why I always looked up to him, sought his advice, and was influenced by him in so many ways. He was an attorney working for the Ohio Attorney General at the time of his death at age 34. But Jim’s interests in art, music, architecture, design, travel, and cities had an enormous influence on me during my lifetime and early in my career in historic preservation. One of my happiest memories is when my family visited the New York World’s Fair in 1964. Jim and I were allowed to take the train from Long Island into Manhattan for the day. I remember my 16-year-old brother sharing his love of New York with me. He showed me the city’s remarkable architecture, took me to the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and treated me to a lemonade at the Palm Court in the Plaza Hotel – something I have never forgotten! I am still grateful for his generosity in taking me along with him that day and introducing me to the excitement of travel and how seeing and experiencing new places could enrich my life.

I loved visiting him in Cincinnati while he was in law school. We would drive around the city for hours exploring historic neighborhoods. But what I remember most was that he took me to Cincinnati Music Hall for a concert – I wish he could have seen the incredible restoration of that magnificent building which was just completed.

In early 1982 Jim invited my husband Jeff and me to go to Paris with him and a friend. We didn’t think we could do it at the time, but I remember Jim urged us to go and said we would never regret it. We did make the trip and as Jim predicted, we never regretted it. It was his last trip, although we didn’t know it at the time. We covered Paris by foot and loved every minute of it. We laughed, talked, ate well, visited museums, sat in the Tuileries with a glass of wine, and rowed boats in the canal at Versailles. Toward the end of the trip Jim said he wasn’t feeling well and was short of breath when we wanted to climb the tower of Notre Dame. He visited a doctor when we returned. Within two weeks of this wonderful trip, Jim was diagnosed with lung cancer.

Jim’s love of architecture and design was the reason he became a founding member of the Columbus Landmarks. He was a vocal champion for the mission of the organization to be advocates for both the preservation of the city’s historic resources and for quality new design – a very unusual mission for a preservation organization at the time. But, it was prescient, as Columbus is a dynamic and constantly changing city.

The James B. Recchie Design Award for design excellence in the built environment has been awarded to a wide variety of projects, including rehabilitation of historic buildings; additions to historic buildings; neighborhood revitalization; new development; public art; public parks; and bridges. It is still relevant and an award that owners and designers are proud to receive. I don’t think my late parents or my brothers Joe and Ralph could have imagined in 1984, that this award would still be given in 2019. I know I couldn’t, but we are all grateful to Landmarks for its continued commitment to this program and to all those winners over the years that have contributed so much to the urban fabric of Columbus.

We invite you to experience Jim’s legacy firsthand at the James B. Recchie Design Award Program & Reception on October 17th »INFO


Brenda Gischel – October 3, 2019

What a lovely tribute to your brother. I wish I could have met him to share his love of history and architecture. You and Jeff have certainly enlightened Columbus Ohio with your Neighborhood Historical stories. Thank you for sharing your brothers’ legacy.

Roger Koch – October 3, 2019

Thank you for introducing me to your brother and sharing his vision and love of historic surroundings. I never met Jim and have wondered about who he was and how he was connected to Columbus Landmarks. You and Jeff have done a wonderful job of being teachers and advocates for historic preservation. What a fine way to keep his memory alive. Thank you again.

Justine Revene – October 4, 2019

Dear Nancy:
It was such a pleasure to read your note about Jim . I miss you
And your family very much.

Nancy Hackbarth Brown – November 13, 2019

Jim was one of my best friends in high school. We went to our junior prom together and had a memorable night of laughs. He is forever missed.

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