Patricia Feghali and the Cogswell Building
The following is an excerpt from the first edition of Kunst Magazine. For the full story, please visit our magazine shop.
Words: Alyssa McClanahan
Photography: Ronny Salerno
Kunst speaks with Patricia Feghali, owner and renovator of the Cogswell Building, named for a nearby alley in Over-the-Rhine. Kunst gives its stamp of approval to this built art and the woman behind it. She understands the mutually beneficial relationship between historic preservation and community development.
A native of Cincinnati, Feghali developed her sense of urban development while studying in New York City and Minneapolis. She returned to her home town to complete her studies at the University of Cincinnati’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning and was ready to make a difference in her environment. “Among all those empty buildings . . . I knew that I wanted to do economic development in Cincinnati,” Patricia recalls.
So, she purchased the Cogswell Building and the one directly west of it on 13th Street in 2012. In her renovations, Patricia made a concerted effort to preserve as many of the original doors, windows, floors, wood panels and base boards as possible, and when new doors or base boards were needed, their design mimicked the appropriate late-19th century style. She and her architect Mark Gunther designed the Cogswell to house offices. Balancing modern office needs with historic architectural details necessitated some interpretation and vision. Patricia’s project management involved trusting the experts. She also relied on her family; she comes from three generations of women involved in real-estate development. Guided by experienced craftsmen and her strong past, she made historically-informed, aesthetically-inspired decisions with end quality in mind. She insists that finding such craftsmen to repair features which require attention to historic detail is worth the time and energy.
Patricia offers herself as a model of a woman consistently engaged in the neighborhoods—Pendleton, OTR, Mt. Adams, and Walnut Hills—in which she lives, works, and renovates. “It’s important to be involved in your community on a lot of levels,” she explains, “but as a developer it is important to develop the property into something that will fit into the neighborhood and to some extent at least be what the neighborhood needs.” Patricia smiles when she explains that growing density of people near her buildings will be “good for the neighborhood which will be good for us.”