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Proposal: Move Huntington farmhouse to Foundry Street in Medina

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    A historical home at 347 N. Huntington St., Medina, is being sold to Medina Schools in a swap for the Bowman House with the city of Medina. Local historian Suzanne Sharpe wants to find a way to save the house from demolition.

    BOB FINNAN / GAZETTE FILE

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MEDINA — Could the historic Sophia Huntington Parker farmhouse move to Foundry Street?

That’s what city officials are proposing as a possible avenue toward saving the property, but Suzanne Sharpe, who has devoted a lot of time and effort into preserving the farmhouse at 347 N. Huntington St, is not sure the proposal would work.

“The mayor said the house would not remain at its current location,” Sharpe said.

Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell said Monday a solution could be to move it to 360 Foundry St. on a parcel of land owned by the city. The city would then purchase a parcel next to it and give the Sophia Huntington Parker house plenty of room to operate.

Sharpe said she has some concerns about the possible move — the biggest being that she wouldn’t own the house or the property.

“If I don’t own the house or the land, I’m not putting $30,000 (in renovations) into this house,” she said. “Even if I sign a lease, the lease could be broken.

“I can’t be left holding the bag.”

Hanwell said he told Sharpe at the finance meeting, “I can’t just give you the property.” He said it must go to public auction.

“She thought I promised that she could take it and move it,” Hanwell said. “I can’t just give her public property. I don’t have that authority.”

He said he will check with Medina Law Director Greg Huber to see if there is some mechanism to save the house, even if it’s not on public property. Hanwell said if the house is moved, it would save tax dollars from being used to demolish the house.

“The door is not totally closed,” he said. “It’s complicated, and there are a lot of hoops to jump through.”

Despite creating a nonprofit, Building Blocks Preservation Group, and opening a bank account, Sharpe said she feels she is no further along than she was back in March when she first met with the Medina City Council’s finance committee.

Sharpe, a Medina resident, was under the impression she could move the 183-year-old house to another location, which would allow the city to expand the parking lot at Ray Mellert Park. Medina Schools purchased the Sophia Huntington Parker house and 0.629 acres for $65,000 and swapped properties with the city. The school district received the Bowman House at 625 Bowman Lane.

She planned on moving the house to another location just to prevent it from being torn down. Doing so would save the school district as much as $30,000 — the cost for tearing down and removing the debris.

Sharpe’s plan was to donate the house to her nonprofit. Her nonprofit group met April 25 with Medina Mayor Dennis Hanwell, Ward 1 Councilman Bob Starcher and City Parks Director Jansen Wehrley.

“The whole business plan has changed,” she said. “My investors won’t donate to something owned by the city.”

Sharpe said she’s unsure how to proceed. One option would be to walk away, even though “I’d feel terrible about it. I don’t want to (walk away). There’s a good, solid house there.”

Sharpe has also proposed opening a community center and/or museum in the house.

She said she works upward of 50 hours a week at her job at Cleveland State University and wouldn’t have time to manage the community center.

She said Foundry Street has considerably less traffic compared with North Huntington Street, which would make a difference if a museum were to be built.

Sharpe said she got involved with the project for historic preservation of the house, not necessarily for a community center or museum.

Hanwell said if Sharpe would agree to move the house to Foundry, the city could allow her to “use” it, much like its agreement with Spokes Caf← on South Broadway Street.

“As long as it has some public purpose, you can move the house somewhere else,” he said.

If it becomes open to the public, Hanwell said it would need to be handicap accessible.

Hanwell said in Sharpe’s email to him Monday, she said she doesn’t want to be on Foundry Street.

He said he sent her an email May 14 asking her to provide a comprehensive plan to the city in the next 30 days.

In it, he asked her to explain where her funding would come from, who was going to run the operation and how she was going to pay for insurance, among other things.

Sharpe said she would have trouble getting it done in the next month, putting the entire project in limbo.

“I can’t meet their expectations because I have a full-time job. Sharpe said. “I’m not getting paid for this. I do have a life.”

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


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