Request to level house denied
Preservation board denies application
By Darcie Loreno
T-G Staff Writer
After more than 45 minutes of comments from an audience of nearly 55 people, the Historic Preservation Board Wednesday voted to decline the Historical Society’s application to raze the A.N. Myers house on Center Street.
With many in the audience suggesting more time to consider more options for the home, the board voted 3-1 against the plan the society originally presented at a June 19 meeting.
“I hope we can all find a solution to work together,” said board President Kathy Aldrich after the meeting. I hope everyone can work together.”
According to a feasibility study done as part of the society’s application, nearly $1 million would be needed to bring the building up to code to use as museum and display space. It reported much deterioration on the interior - which had been converted to doctor’s offices and said many of the home’s exterior historical features had been removed over the years.
The society had planned to build a new, similar structure as a more financially feasible option.
Society director Tina Carpenter asked why the board thought the demolition would be detrimental to the neighborhood, the main issue the board must consider when making such a decision, according to its regulations.
Ruth Detrow, 3rd Ward city councilwoman and Center Street resident, said as a resident she thought it would have detrimental effects on the neighborhood. She pointed out the home was built by a member of the Myers family, which founded R.E. Myers Pump.
“It looks ugly now, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be beautiful again,” she said.
A letter from Seckel Group Architects to Christina Ports, secretary of the Center Street Historic District Association, was handed out at the meeting with information on a walk through of the home. The association previously had offered, at its expense, to have an architect, look at the home so it could take a position on the issue.
The letter said demolition and rehabilitation would both be costly. It said transforming the home into office space would be most financially feasible. Because that wouldn’t involve museum or meeting space, the code requirement would be less, it said. A quote which would involve removing an addition over an original porch and other restoration, came to about $500,000. With that scenario, attic and basement space would not be occupied.
Portz said, as an association, “we are against (the historical society’s plan) on several fronts” including due to Seckel’s quote, that she saw no formal renovation quote from the society and uncertainty with what could then be done with the lot. She said more time should be taken to make sure all avenues are studied.
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.
Carpenter said if the building were to come down, it probably would stay green space until fund were raised to build. She said there is no concrete plan for after demolition, but the area is needed for museum space. As historic preservation officials, she said, it’s not as if the society would “put up a shack.”
Nancy Davis, Center Street resident and museum member, said she had mixed feeling and thought the situation should be further studied and developed. Gail Cadley, Center Street resident, suggested making it a community project and “see what we could do as two groups.”
Ken Hammontree, co-owner of Jenny Wade Bed and Breakfast, said he’s “appalled at the plan” and against the demolition.
“I wish you could study it a little more to find out what people want,” and if it cold be saved, Kathy Aldrich, Historic Preservation Board President
Aldrich said from here, the society could appeal the decision to the city’s Zoning Board of Appeals. According to preservation board regulations, 60 days will be given for the board to review alternative uses for the building. Then someone would make an offer to purchase the property or the application would be approved by the board.
Carpenter said the society’s board will meet Tuesday and compile a press release with its thoughts and how to move forward.
Historical Society could appeal decision