Friday August 4, 2006
Is preserving Myers house worth the cost?
One would think the Historic Preservation Board and the Historical Society wouldn’t be at odds over an issue about history in Ashland County.
But that’s been the case the past few months.
The two groups disagree about the future of the A.N. Myers house at 408 Center Street.
The Historic Preservation Board, a five-member municipal organization, voted Wednesday to decline the Historic Society’s application to raze the home the society owns next to its buildings during a meeting at City Hall.
At first glance, it appears the Historical Society simply just doesn’t want to preserve the historic building.
But, the Historical Society argues most of the home’s historical features have been removed over the years in its conversion to doctors’ offices and its interior deterioration is so bad that restoring it would be too expensive.
At what price should this piece of the county’s heritage be preserved?
That’s the question that has been raised with this disagreement.
In this case, the Historical Society contends the price tag to restore the old building is too much and a more financially feasible option is to eventually build a new, similar structure in its place.
According to a feasibility study done as part of the society’s application, in order to renovate the structure into a “state of decent and habitable occupancy,” the cost would be more than $1 million.
The study stated no historical value would be retained with renovations.
If this building weren’t in the Center Street Historic District, this may not even be an issue.
The Center Street Historic District Association, an organization of residents, wants to preserve the homes build in the late 19th century and early 20th century by Ashland’s business barons and many of their key employees along Center Street.
To do that, the association has worked hard the past few years to keep the ear alive with renovations and restorations to the old building on the street of that architecture style.
The A.N. Myers home was built in 1892 by a member of the Myers family, which founded the F.E. Myers Pump Co.
Center Street resident and city councilwoman Ruth Detrow said at Wednesday’s meeting she believes the deteriorated home could be beautiful again with some restoration.
But that gets back to the question - is it worth the cost it will take to restore it to a beauty similar to what it once was?
Christina Ports, secretary of the Center Street Historic District, said at Wednesday’s meeting she was told the society’s Noonan House cost about $800,000 to build and suggested moving offices out of that building to the A.N. Myers home and using the Noonan House as museum space.
Portz said a quote from an architect firm stated the home could be restored to office space at a cost of about $500,000 without the attic and basement being occupied.
One encouraging thing about the situation is several of the roughly 50 who attended the meeting seemed to express the hope a compromise could be worked out between the two organizations. Some of them suggested more study on the issue.
There’s still time since the society must wait until the ordinance mandated 60 days before taking any action.
One of the main things that needs to be discussed at more length on the issue is how much is it worth to preserve this part of Ashland County’s history?
That will be helpful for similar issues that come up about some aspect of the county’s heritage in the future too.