Historical Society Plans Demolition of Historic House
Story by Margaret Foster
August 10, 2006
Instead of campaigning to save a colonial revival house built in 1892, an Ohio historical society wants to tear down the landmark.
Last week, however, the Ashland County historic preservation board voted 3-1 to reject the county historical society's June 19 request to demolish the Alva N. Myers house, located in a National Register-listed historic district in Ashland, Ohio.
"It's unusual that it's a museum that wants to tear down a historic building," says Kathy Aldrich, chairman of the board. The county's preservation ordinance requires parties who wish to demolish a historic structure to "show that they've gone through every effort and [demolition] is the final option," Aldrich says. "They haven't shown me that they've done that."
Built as a single-family residence, the Myers House was renovated in the 1930s and suffered fire damage in the 1950s. It housed a doctors' office and apartment building until December 2005.
The historical society, whose museum is adjacent to the Myers House, bought the property in 1998 and decided last May was not interested in restoring or renovating the house, according to Tina Carpenter, director of the Ashland County Historical Society.
“I would have to say that the building is not capable of being restored,” Carpenter says. Although it could be renovated the society can’t afford the estimated $1 million for the work. “We just can’t justify one million dollars going into the building.
“The historical society plans to turn the site into green space initially, Carpenter says. “We just want to get through the process first.
Some neighbors want the historical society to slow down. “We feel it’s a cart before the horse situation: They want to demolish the house but they haven’t figured out what they want to put in there,” says Christina Portz, secretary of the Center Street Historic District Association. “Maybe they should sell it to someone who wants to refurbish it rather than getting rid of it.”
Now the historical Society has 60 days to appeal the decision.