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Historic status sought for Farmers Exchange building

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building at 320 S. Court St., Medina, is shown in 1940.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange, located at 320 S. Court St., Medina, has been nominated for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places list.

    GAZETTE FILE

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    The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. advertised its 75th anniversary in The Gazette on March 23, 1979.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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MEDINA — The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. building has been nominated for a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.

Authorized by the National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, the register lists places that should be preserved because of their significance in American history, architecture, archaeology, engineering and culture. It includes buildings, sites, structures, objects and historic districts of national, state and local importance.

The Medina Farmers Exchange Co. was nominated by historic preservation consultants Diana Wellman and Wendy Naylor, of Naylor Wellman LLC., in Chagrin Falls, for the building's association with the history of agriculture and commerce in Medina County.

"It's a landmark for Medina," Naylor said. "I'm very excited for the community. It's an honor. It's an important building for Medina. I'm glad to have been part (of the process)."

The building is for sale and is listed with Gerspacher Real Estate Group for $695,000.

The Farmers Exchange, originally built in 1904, will qualify for historic tax credits if it gets listed on the register. The owner or tenant that rehabilitates an income-producing property can qualify for a 20 percent federal income tax credit or 25 percent state tax credit, according to Tom Wolf, communications manager for Ohio History Connection. The renovation work must meet the Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation.

It was condemned by the city in August 2016 because it has "fallen into a state of disrepair due to many years of neglect and a lack of routine maintenance," the city's chief building official, Dan Gladish, previously told The Gazette.

While it remains closed, Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said the city has had three individual developers look at the building for potential redevelopment and reuse.

"We're hoping that this will assist the developers and the redevelopment of the building," Hanwell said. "We think that would be very beneficial for a grant opportunities as well as letting us assist them fix it up."

Rich history

On April 1, 1904, six men gathered in the director's room of Medina's Savings Deposit Bank with $20,000 to establish a company to "deal with the farmers of Medina County to buy their products from them, and to sell to them the things which they need," according to historical documents provided by Ohio History Connection.

Later that year, a two-story, 40-by-100-foot building was built at 320 S. Court St. It burned down one year later.

The building actually burned down twice - the first time in 1905 and again in 1935 - and was rebuilt both times. Some of the metal structures from the building's mill operations in the 1930s have been preserved.

"The city of Medina worked hard to get that building back in productive use," Naylor said. "Developers have been looking at the property, which is the first step toward the historic tax credits. That sets up steps for a developer to come in and rehabilitate the building."

Naylor said while researching the building, she ran across a story from The Gazette in 1935 on the reopening of the building.

"There were thousands of people in attendance," it read. "There were over 100 floral arrangements and two orchestras played. There were gifts (for those in attendance, including) roses for the women, cigars for the men and balloons for the children."

"I love that line," Naylor said.

City backs nomination

Naylor said Jonathan Mendel, the city's community development director, submitted a letter for the nomination to the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board at Friday's meeting in Columbus.

The Farmers Exchange was one of nine proposed Ohio nominations to the National Register of Historic Places.

Wolf said the nomination will be forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register - overseen by the National Park Service - will either approve or deny the request based on its criteria for listing.

To be nominated, a property must be 50 years old or older and meet at least one of four additional criteria:

  • Association with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of history;
  • Association with the lives of people significant to the past;
  • Properties that are architecturally significant or that have the characteristics of a particular building type, period or method of construction;
  • Properties that have yielded or have the potential to yield information important in history or prehistory.

If the Keeper agrees that the properties meet the criteria for listing, they will be added to the National Register of Historic Places. His decision is expected in about 90 days.

"It is one of the oldest structures (in the city) and we're just encouraged by the fact that it's at least nominated," Hanwell said. "We will do anything we can to promote the designation."

Contact reporter Halee Heironimus at (330) 721-4012 or hheironimus@medina-gazette.com. Contact reporter Bob Finnan at (330) 721-4049 or rfinnan@medina-gazette.com. 



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