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UPDATE: Sherman House Supporters Ask Council for Help

House is slated for demolition by Kent State University; group's proposal released

Editor's note: this story was updated at 3:30 p.m.

A group of Kent residents who want to save a to the city from the wrecking ball asked Kent City Council for the city's help Wednesday night.

Supporters of a proposal to spare what's been called the "Wells-Sherman House" from being demolished asked council to place the issue on the committee meeting agenda for April 4 in order to hear a detailed proposal from the group.

Rick Hawksley, a local architect and member of the group, said the proposal asks for a small investment from the city and university.

"We’re working on securing the land, finding a place to move it," Hawksley said.

The house, at 250 E. Erie St., stands in the path of from campus towards downtown, and to make way for the new pathway. Construction on the Esplanade is scheduled to start this spring.

University officials have said they would be willing to sell the house for as little as $1 to someone with the means to move it and land to relocate it to.

The group's formal request to council, which is attached in a letter to this article, asks that the city make a "relatively small investment" to the effort by providing land, utilities, technical assistance and in-kind resources for the house's relocation, according to the letter. The group also asks for city administrators to work with them and the Kent Historical Society on the effort.

Sally Burnell, the founder of the group supporting the house, said even if it can't be proven to have historic ties to the city's namesake family, the house itself dates to before the Civil War and has other qualities that make it historically valuable to the community.

"I would ask that this house be preserved,” she said.

Burnell said she plans to conduct a detailed title search in the coming weeks on the house, which has been relocated once, to try and confirm its historic nature.

The effort has the support of the .

Tom Hatch, administrator for the historical society, said the house has historic value because it is one of only a handful of Kent buildings left that predate the Civil War, and because it has close associations to the Kent family.

"The Kent Historical Society has agreed to lend it’s support to the friends group and encourage council to consider their request in committee," Hatch said. "Once an appropriate location and use for the building has been identified, we plan to help the effort" through fundraising, he said.

Councilwoman Tracy Wallach moved to put the issue onto next week's committee agenda for discussion. Council voted unanimously, with an abstention from Councilman Jack Amrhein, to put the item on the agenda.

"So much demolition has been occurring because of all the new growth in the city," Wallach said. "I think it’s time to start saving some of our historical buildings as well."

Matt Fredmonsky March 29, 2012 at 10:33 PM
We're having some technical difficulties, so in the meantime you can find the group's request to the city here: http://www.facebook.com/groups/319877388062261/#!/photo.php?fbid=3629670739976&set=o.319877388062261&type=1&theater
Chris (Kit) Myers March 30, 2012 at 02:08 PM
It is an architecturally stunning home, truly a classic, and by all means should be saved. I am looking for a lot in River Bend on which to set it, using the same configuration as Lester Lefton used for the Mae Prentiss house at 220 South Willow Street, a configuration that according to the university spokesman to whom I spoke, meets all the requirements of the City of Kent.
Sally Burnell March 31, 2012 at 12:34 PM
I have just uploaded the image of the newly found deed to the property at the corner of Erie and Water Streets that was sold to George W. Wells in 1858. He bought it from Marvin and Henry Kent. The Wells's sold their house to Lucius Crittenden in 1863 when they relocated to Brownsville, PA. Crittenden sold it to Miner Andrews in 1867, and he sold it to Aaron Sherman in 1868. Sherman sold it to his son Lewis H. Sherman in 1903, who sold it to Dr. Byron Jacob in 1906, who sold it to Dr. William B. Andrews in 1924, who then moved it to its current location on Erie Street. The Andrews family owned the house until 1968, when Steven Hughes bought it, who sold it to Carter Rentals in 1972. It was then sold to Gail and Michael Stephenson in 1979, and they sold it to Ronald Reitz in 1990. Reitz sold it to Frank Hornyak in 1993, who sold it to KSU in 2010, its current owner. So now we know the entire history of this house and its various owners. It became rental property in 1968. A friend of our family lived there in the late 60s when she was a student at KSU, so when the Hughes's bought it from the Andrews family, it must then have become a student rooming house from that point on.
Matt Fredmonsky March 31, 2012 at 02:37 PM
Fascinating!
Sally Burnell March 31, 2012 at 09:50 PM
Isn't it? When I was doing the deed research yesterday, it felt a bit like doing genealogy, only on a house. Between the census research I have done on the Kent and Sherman families and the deed research I did on this house, I began to develop a sense of what Kent (and before that, Franklin Mills) was like. Those old records paint a fascinating portrait of a time period and the people who inhabited it. My family are not native Kentites. We've only been here for a mere 53 years, but now I feel a greater connection to the town In which I have spent all but the first two years of my life. I can look at the Wells-Sherman House with new eyes, knowing that here is a house with many, many stories to tell us. Oh, could walls only talk..... but in a sense, they can, if we just care to listen closely! Lean in close.....listen....the house will tell you of its long life and the many families who were sheltered by its walls.......ssshhhhhh.......listen!

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