Realty Tower restoration wins an MVHS award

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A company’s renovation of a once-empty downtown high-rise into an upscale apartment building has been recognized for its respectful reuse of a historic property.

The $8 million-plus exterior and lobby restoration of Realty Tower Apartments on Market Street won the Commercial Revitalization Award from the Mahoning Valley Historical Society.

The society’s Historic Preservation Committee hands out its awards each year to people in Mahoning and Trumbull counties who take an active role in preserving historic buildings, sites and districts, said Leann Rich, MVHS spokeswoman.

The 2010 award winners will be honored at the MVHS’ 135th annual meeting June 15 at Holy Trinity Romanian Orthodox Church on Wick Avenue.

The 13-story Realty Tower Apartments building was designed by noted Youngstown architect Morris Scheibel and completed in 1924. The Realty Guarantee & Trust Co. built it to house its offices. The building has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places since 1980.

The Frangos Group, a real-estate holding company with offices in Cleveland and Youngstown, purchased the building in December 2000 and hired City Architecture Inc. of Cleveland to convert it to rental apartments. Construction began in 2008 and took about a year.

Seven of the 23 units are currently occupied, said Bill Sperlazza, project manager for the Frangos Group. It is the first upscale apartment building downtown.

Louis A. Frangos of Cleveland is the president of the Frangos Group.

Along with renovation of the interior spaces, the Realty Towers project included restoration of the original cornice and other exterior finishes and restoration of plaster, metal, stone and tile surfaces in the lobby.

Winners of the Community Revitalization Awards are:

National McKinley Birthplace Memorial, Niles, exterior restoration: Designed by the New York architectural firm of McKim, Mead & White, the memorial was completed in 1915. Restoration included cleaning and repair of terra-cotta fascia and soffit within the courtyard, repairing and restoring marble pavers, repair of the original clay- tile roof and copper flashing, reglazing of original windows and replacing three large skylights that had been roofed over for the past 20 years. Project designer was Balog Steines Hendricks & Manchester Architects.

John Stark Edwards House and Museum, Warren, interior and exterior restoration: The John Stark Edwards House was built in 1807 by one of the first Western Reserve pioneers to arrive from Connecticut and enlarged in 1909. It was a residence until 1938, when the last survivor turned it over to the state, and then-Gov. Martin Davey gifted it to the Trumbull County Historical Society. In 2006, the TCHS used a state grant to launch a restoration of the interior, including ceilings, walls, floors and windows, as well as exterior renovations that included a new roof, spouting and shutters (using the original metal hardware); reinforcing of stone walls; and accessibility improvements. Project designers included Harry Kapouralos, project manager; William Sauer, architect; Don Hazel, TCHS president; Gina Bodor, grand coordinator; and Martha Ellers, adviser.

The Mahoning Valley Historical Society also announced its 2010 Awards of Achievement. These awards honor people who have demonstrated a commitment to historic preservation. The winners are:

C. Gilbert James Jr., Canfield: James has been an advocate for historic preservation for five decades. His accomplishments include establishing the Western Reserve Village on the Mahoning County Fairgrounds in Canfield; spearheading the campaign to raise funds to preserve and restore the Mahoning Valley Historical Society’s Carriage House and adapt it into the MVHS Archival Library and meeting center; and being an active participant with several historical agencies, including MVHS, the Canfield Historical Society, the William Holmes McGuffey Historical Society, the Western Reserve Village Foundation, the International Institute of Youngstown, the former Medical Museum at St. Elizabeth Hospital and the Melnick Medical Museum at Youngstown State University.

Patricia Sweet, Youngtown: An advocate for preservation, Sweet (wife of Youngstown State University President David Sweet) led the efforts of the Historic Preservation Committee of the MVHS Board of Directors and staff to create the annual Mahoning Valley Historical Society Historic Preservation Awards program in 2005. She also was instrumental in securing financial support from the Raymond John Wean Foundation to underwrite the program the past six years. The Historic Preservation Awards has become a successful community outreach project for the MVHS.

Leland Van Camp, Beloit: He spearheaded the organization of the Beloit Area Historical Society, which involved acquiring and preserving an old tin shop as its home. He continues to advocate for the collection of artifacts related to Smith Township.

Source: MVHS

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