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YSU targets historic places



Published: Fri, December 3, 2010 @ 12:09 a.m.

Razing of Thompson, Peck houses planned

By Denise Dick

denise_dick@vindy.com

youngstowN

Youngstown State University plans to demolish a historic home and is considering demolition of a second one.

The trustees’ finance and facilities committee at a meeting Thursday voted to demolish the Thompson/Sacherman House.

Gene Grilli, vice president of finance and administration, told committee members that his office, with concurrence from the office of the provost, recommends demolishing both the Thompson/Sacherman House and the Peck House.

With difficult economics and the deteriorated state of both buildings, it’s in the university’s best interests to demolish them, he said.

Trustee Harry Meshel said he’d like the board to wait and decide later on the Peck House.

“It’s on Wick Avenue, and it’s a [Charles H.] Owsley House,” he said, referring to the Youngstown architect who designed it.

People have approached him with their hopes that the house can be saved, Meshel said.

Thompson/Sacherman is a 2,300-square-foot, single-family home on Lincoln Avenue. It was built in 1882 by Rufus F. Thompson and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Documentation provided to the committee says that it is one of seven buildings identified in 2006 by CityScape’s Historic Preservation Committee as endangered buildings of significance downtown.

H. William Lawson, Mahoning Valley Historical Society executive director, said the society doesn’t now have a position on the houses.

“But we are very interested in the historic resources that are here in the Wick Avenue downtown area,” he said.

The house was moved when YSU built the Beeghly College of Education and sits between Inner Circle and the Beat coffeehouse.

“We’ll be discussing what this means in terms of the neighborhood,” Lawson said.

An evaluation of Thompson/Sacherman determined that the exterior showed signs of deferred maintenance including peeling paint, rot, vegetation and algae growth and many missing pieces of original building fabric. It also found severe water damage, mold and rot because of the poor condition of the roof and the absence of gutters.

There was consideration of using the building as a crime-scene laboratory for the criminal-justice department, but the work involved to renovate and repurpose it totaled about $200,000 and could rise to $400,000, the documents said.

The finance and administration office “notes that the property is well-documented and recommends that documents pertaining to the building and its history be transferred to the University Archives,” the documents said. “It further recommends that the remaining interior historic elements be selectively removed and responsibly salvaged.”

The cleared site would be used for open space of a community garden.

The Peck House is a 7,660-square-foot, single-family home in the Wick Avenue Historic District and was built in 1887 for Dr. George and Emeline Peck. It’s one of six mansions remaining on Wick.

The property was acquired from the Mahoning Valley Council of Churches in the mid-1990s for use by the Center for Historic Preservation.

An evaluation of that building found that the exterior retains its historic integrity and “is in generally good condition,” documents provided to the committee say.

The interior of the house has been altered from its original layout.

The estimated cost to renovate the house is about $600,000. The university examined possible uses including for WYSU or costume and prop storage for the department of theater and dance, but neither of those uses was deemed suitable.

“The office of finance and administration has determined that, notwithstanding the desirability of maintaining one of the six remaining Wick Avenue mansions, the expenditure of capital funds in excess of $600,000 without a university reuse now or in the foreseeable future, is not a prudent use of these scarce resources,” the information provided to the committee said.


Comments

1howardinyoungstown(591 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

re: the Peck house "An evaluation of that building found that the exterior retains its historic integrity and “is in generally good condition”.

How about moving the Peck house to one of the vacant lots on Wick Park. It would be expensive but less than a full historic restoration.

The school could recoup the some of the costs by using it as student housing or by selling it to a private entity for use as student housing.

In this way the historic exterior could be preserved and maintained, we would reduce the number of vacant lots facing Wick Park!

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2DeanChance(3 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

That could make a lot of sense, Howard. Therefore, it must be bypassed.

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3WilliamP(69 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

They'll end up spending $600k to study their options rather than spending $600k on renovations. Why are so many in the Valley still so short-sighted and unimaginative? There is a time and place for demolitions in the name of progress, but this isn't it.

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4onthetown(254 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

censoredship:

I couldn't have said it better.

YSU seems to have the same problem - and the same pathetic excuses - as many developers in the area that are responsible for blighted properties throughout the city. They took ownership of the property, they let it deteriorate beyond affordable renovation, and they expect taxpayers to pay for its destruction and removal.

It's shameful.

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5piak(508 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

That's the beauty(?) of their "logic". As a State (public) university, they aquired title to the property, let it run down and expect the Public to pay for either demolition or moving of it. Very circuitous "logic". In the Warren Business School, I did learn (with difficulty, I admit) that once you take title, you OWN it.

Thinking outside the box, they might come up with the idea that "it's our property and we'll fix it or move it ourselves". For people conditioned to running to the State government (itself $8 Billion in hole), such thinking is impossible.

Gee, maybe some philantropist will step forward and...

LOL

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6Tigerlily(494 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I can't believe I agree with censoredship on something, but I do here. Look, we do have something in common. Wow.

Listen to this, though: that house on Lincoln Avenue was given to the university by the doctor who once owned it, under the CONDITION that YSU use it in some way for students. They never have done this, and in fact allowed it to run down into the blighted condition it's in now, because they didn't want to maintain it. They shouldn't have accepted the property and then not upheld the condition for receiving it, and now want to tear it down because of their own irresponsibility? Shame, shame, shame. The new president goes around saying it's all about the students, but that's a laugh. Here was a house given to the university to use in some way, and they ignored it. Purposefully, I think. They just wanted the property itself. Not the house.

They could easily have found a use for it. Instead, they allowed it to run down so that they could later demolish it. This is disgusting.

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7najjjj(106 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Sheesh, Censoredship, I just hate when you make sense.....lol. It was always my understanding that when a building is placed on the historic registry, it must be maintained by the owners and no changes made that would alter the buildings original integrity and design. Tearing it down would certainly do that, don't ya think? YSU needs to be held responsible. They bought these bldgs, letting them deteriorate. It's my guess intententionally. They never cared about these historic sites, they just wanted the land beneath. When you begin to demolish a cities historic buildings, you take away, especially in this case, what little is left of its heart.

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8ChangesNeededNow(16 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

censoredship,
I agree with you on this one and will be contacting Dr. DeBlasio. YSU's disregard for preserving these historic buildings makes me sick to my stomach. They will probably bulldoze them over the Christmas break prior to the start of winter semester just like they did a few years back to the historic buildings that used to house the YSU police department. Disgusting.

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9PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I also agree with Censoredship and a number of the above posters and I think "WilliamP" put it best:

"There is a time and place for demolitions in the name of progress, but this isn't it."

When one thinks of the most prominent historical areas of the Mahoning Valley, Wick Ave and the homes and institutions that accompany it make the short list (if not top spot).

This community should not allow that structure to come down. The conditions of its transfer of ownership were/are clear. There are people inside YSU who have worked to ensure the structure be developed...but my understanding is that it has fallen on deaf ears. One must ask "why"?

And beyond the obvious reason, here's another why we should inquire:

In early half of the 2000's, the University and several of the institutions on Wick Ave. (and select other major local stakeholders, businesses and community organizations) formed Wick Neighbors Inc. The primary mission of the organization was to develop the Smoky Hollow neighborhood. While a fine idea, one must now question the priorities when millions of dollars were attempted to be raised to build NEW housing units while plans for redevelopment of historic structures like the Peck House seem to not have been sincere.

I’m not a trustee or a university official. However, I do know that if the university is sincerely committed to being an urban research university it will not move forward on plans to tear down the Peck House. Tearing down a registered historic structure OWNED BY THE UNIVERISTY in one of the most HISTORICALLY SIGNIFICANT DISTRICTS in the Mahoning Valley does not instill confidence that there is a sincere understanding of what being and urban research university means. Expanded graduate degree programs and funding for research are only part of the equation.

YSU: Do not tear down the Peck House.

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10PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Dr. Donna DeBlasio:
dmdeblasio@ysu.edu

I would also contact the Office of the Provost as well as Gene Grilli.

Vice President for Finance & Administration
Gene Grilli
epgrilli@ysu.edu

Provost:
Dr. Ikram Khawaja
ikhawaja@ysu.edu

Dr. Bege Powers:
bkbowers@ysu.edu

It would also not hurt to contact Scott Schulick (Chair, Board of Trustees) as well as Dr. Cynthia Anderson (ceanderson@ysu.edu )

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11ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

The house on Lincoln Avenue had already been moved once by YSU to its current location. They took the house with the understanding that it would be utilized, paid to have it moved, and then quickly forgot about it. So if the house is demolished now it would be a double waste of money.

Dr. Deblasio has no power to make any decisions regarding the disposition of these houses, since the Center for Historic Preservation has instead been established at the Historical Center for Industry and Labor. The others on Phil's list do need contacted as they are the ones who have the power to make decisions regarding the future of these structures.

The only reason why it would cost hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate these house is because YSU owns them. If a private individual such as you or I owned them, the renovation costs would be far, far less. However, they made commitments to the community when these houses were acquired, and they need to be reminded of those commitments.

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12PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Here's a reminder:

Vindicator (2004): "Getty grant to help with preservation of historic buildings on, near campus"

http://www.alzad.com/news/2004/aug/10...

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13PhilKidd(186 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

The YSU Centennial Campus Master Plan says this:

2. Peck House
• Secure the building envelope of the Inn and Carriage House by making deferred maintenance investments in roof, gutter, windows, and siding to insure that the building is weather...-tight and
suitable for renovation. Undertake such investment in a manner consistent with the Secretary of Interior Standards

• Consider reuse of the building for university departments and centers and similar functions that would benefit from the location and would suitably use the building

3. Thompson Sacherman House
• Secure the building envelope of the Inn and Carriage House by making deferred maintenance investments in roof, gutter, windows, and siding to insure that the building is weather-tight and
suitable for renovation. Undertake such investment in a manner consistent with the Secretary of Interior Standards

• Consider reuse of the building for university departments and centers that would benefit from the location and would suitably use the building

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14ytownsteelman(631 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

I have just completed composing my email to the YSU officials listed above. I urge everyone to do the same, so that on Monday morning they will have no doubt that we are sick and tired of YSU demolishing any more historic buildings.

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15downforce(8 comments)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

things like this make alot of us wonder who's interests are best served by tearing these structures down? I don't know much about all this but all of the previous comments are very informative. If I may through out a good example of use of historic structures, Went to grad school in Roc.NY, spent many hours in a house/school called the Visual Studies Workshop run out of a historic old home. Maybe I could start a school for visual studies/photography in the Peck house.
Could an educational facility get funding to restore a structure to house it? Just a dreamer reaching out!
Hoping these structures stay here for a long time.

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16fireisatool(1 comment)posted 3 years, 11 months ago

Trustee Harry Meshel said he’d like the board to wait and decide later on the Peck House.

“It’s on Wick Avenue, and it’s a [Charles H.] Owsley House,” he said, referring to the Youngstown architect who designed it.

People have approached him with their hopes that the house can be saved, Meshel said.
Looks as though the "shell" game continues (no pun intended).
"Historic Preservation" has become an epithet.

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