Rex Elsass was looking for a new home for his political consulting and media firm, The Strategy Group for Media. He founded the company in 1994 as a political consulting firm while living in German Village with his wife Laurie. His background was in radio and television productions, and he was also involved in politics, formerly serving as executive director of the Ohio Republican Party.
He established his niche company out of a love and passion for politics, creating things and helping people tell their stories. It took a lot of hard work, but he was doing something that not many people were doing outside of Washington DC. As the company grew, they needed more space and Elsass had been on the lookout for a new home for the business.
“We were looking for a place to be unique,” says Elsass.
One day in 2006, he was out for a drive with Nick Everhart, founding president of the media planning and buying arm of the company, Strategic Media Placement Inc. They were heading north on U.S. Route 23 and noticed a historic looking property with a for sale sign. It looked interesting. The property was the nearly 200-year-old Gooding House.
Built in 1827 by George B. Gooding, the Gooding House was as an inn and tavern situated halfway between Worthington and Delaware to welcome weary travelers. As George Gooding was expanding his farming business and buying up acreage, the Goodings were becoming celebrated members of society and leaders in the Whig party. The house was built with 1820s Federal influences, 1850s early Italianate influences, and 1910s Colonial Revival and Craftsman influences, each addition reflective of the next generation of Goodings.
The Gooding family sold the property in 2001; it had fallen into extreme disrepair and was facing demolition. Community members rallied to help save the building.
In 2004, independent contractor Drew Berlin bought the property from development company Planned Communities once they realized there was community value for the house. They worked with historic preservation consultant Judy Williams to get the building documented and listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2005. Elsass worked with Berlin to complete the restoration Berlin had begun. After the restoration, Elsass held a dedication ceremony for the historical plaque placed in the front yard.
Many of the Gooding family members attended the ceremony and were pleased with how the building was restored. A guest suite was put back into the upstairs for company guests. Interior Designer Mark Huffman worked on the interior, adding furnishings reminiscent of the building’s history.
Today, with offices in Austin, Texas and Washington DC, they rank as “one of the top-five GOP media firms in America.” The DC office is also in a historic building.
“I love that part of history,” Elsass says. “There is an element to honoring the past that is important for communities to preserve. It is exciting to be a part of.”
The company is looking for additional investments in other states to continue to grow, but Elsass says the Delaware office will always be its headquarters.
“Ohio is the center of presidential campaigns and is reflective of reality,” he adds. “It is freeing not to have our base in DC.”
The company would like to expand its headquarters by adding a recreation of the Gooding’s barn. Elsass has a major focus on reinvesting in the business to build a legacy.
“Something that lasts beyond yourself− to me, that’s success,” he says.
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NOTE: If you are interested in the preservation of historical buildings, you may find this upcoming conference by Preservation Ohio worth attending.
Enhancing & Marketing Heritage Attractions and Byways, a one-day conference on Nov. 10 from 10:00. a.m until 4 p.m. at Station 67, the former Toledo & Ohio Central Railroad Depot located at 379 W. Broad St. in downtown Columbus.
The morning session will feature a unique opportunity to learn about the marketing of heritage-related attractions through online marketing, including through social media. ONRA’s Design Handbook will then be highlighted in a Community Preservation Planning Workshop scheduled for the afternoon.
The morning keynote event will feature the country’s leading expert on using online means to create both awareness and support for historic properties and preservation/history-related organizations. It’s a must-do experience for preservation organizations, historical societies and groups, and those who administer heritage tourism attractions and corridors.
The event is free (lunch available for $15); reservations are required. To reserve a seat for this informative symposium, contact Marian Vance at 614- 570-7504. For more information, click here.