The historic Kent Wells-Sherman House from its location at 250 E. Erie St. to the western end of East College Avenue thanks to a partnership between the city and Kent State University.
Members of Kent City Council authorized city staff Wednesday to move forward on an agreement with the university to temporarily move the house to save it from immediate demolition.
The agreement would give the supporters of the house's restoration, the Friends of the Kent Wells Sherman House, until Dec. 1 to find a permanent location for the house.
Otherwise, it will be torn down if a permanent location can't be found before Dec. 1, Kent City Manager Dave Ruller said.
"Everybody acknowledges that the house would be taken down at that point," he said.
The 1858 Greek Revival-style house has ties to the Kent family and other early prominent citizens. The house relocation from its present spot on East Erie Street is necessary for construction of , a Kent State-led project designed to create a pedestrian link between campus and downtown Kent.
The house will be placed on the bare patch of land at the end of East College Avenue near the intersection of South DePeyster Street and Haymaker Parkway and is owned by Kent State.
The university’s decision to “loan out” the land was made more than a week ago, after the Kent Planning Commission rejected for which the group has a purchase agreement with the private landowner.
Gregg Floyd, vice president for finance and administration at Kent State, said the university retains ownership of the house and would be legally responsible for the structure while it sits on the temporary site.
"I’m advised it’s our responsibility," Floyd said. "So I think until we convey title it would still be ours to maintain the insurance program on it. It’s on our land. It’s our house. It’s still ours."
The house is expected to be moved by Aug. 11 so construction can start on the Esplanade.
Kent Service Director Gene Roberts said the house mover plans to truck the house from Erie Street out onto Haymaker Parkway and then southwest to the temporary spot at the end of College Avenue.
Roberts said the house will sit with its back facing Haymaker Parkway.
"It will kind of sit for lack of a better term on an angle on Kent State’s property at the end of College (Avenue)," he said.
The Friends of the Wells Sherman House still must move the house a second time once a permanent location is found.
The group had filed a request to appeal the planning commission’s decision to the zoning board during its Aug. 20 meeting. Eric Fink, the city’s assistant law director, previously told Kent Patch he had issued a ruling that the appeal request is the wrong route to take.
According to city law, he explained, the zoning board can only consider appeals of decisions made by the zoning inspector or the planning commission for the issuance of zoning certificates or conditional zoning certificates.
“Before the planning commission was a site plan review, which does not result in the issuance of either type of certificate,” Fink said. “The planning commission has the ultimate authority when it comes to site plans.”
That leaves the KWSH group only two options to continue pursuing the North Water parcel: file suit in Portage County Common Pleas Court, or file a new site plan with the planning commission. For the latter choice, Fink said, city law “requires that it be a substantially different (site) plan or that there be newly discovered evidence.”
Roger Thurman, vice president of the non-profit Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. board, has said the group would like to avoid a court room if possible.
"Filing suit is expensive and time consuming," he said previously. "It’s a last-resort option that we would very much like to avoid."