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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

documenting 147 w. first st.

The following is documentation the Historical Society developed relating to 147 W. First St. which has apparently been torn down by the city without historical review. 

The house at 147 W. First Street is located on the west half of lot 2310 in a group of several lots just to the west and at the SW corner and outside of the original city boundary laid out in 1808.  The area is designated as Sturges Subdivision, originally owned by E. P. Sturges.  The ground was within the old Methodist graveyard according to the 1853 map of the city.  Adjacent, and within the city boundary was the Presbyterian graveyard, later to be occupied by the First Ward School, shown on the 1882 map of the city.  By that time the Methodist graveyard had also been removed and the area developed into lots. 

Like many houses in that district, 147 W. First Street is predominantly a Queen Anne style house.  It has the asymmetrical massing and irregular floorplan that are common elements of the style. A square tower or turret rises to a third story height between the main front gable and a prominent gabled side bay. Fishscale shingles cover the upper face of the gables and narrow clapboard siding covers the balance of the exterior walls.  Windows on the second floor of the turret and front gable are topped in a Gothic fashion. Eastlake elements predominate otherwise in bullseye motifs on the trim beneath the third floor level of the turret, incised carving of large brackets holding up the eaves of the bay gable and of gable trim elements, and the turned porch posts. 
Architectural historian Craig Bobby has given the opinion that the house and its neighbors are derived from plans by Palliser, Palliser & Co. shown in their 1878 catalog, Plate. 14. 
147 W. First Street was built c. 1885 along with two houses to the east identical in floor plan, form and roof line.  The trim elements of the three houses are different. It was first occupied by Harry Orwig, a travelling salesman, whose residence is first listed there in the 1886-87 city directory and numbered 44 at that time.

The existing residential neighborhood that includes W. First Street and W. Second Street out to Sturges Avenue was identified in the city’s Preservation Plan in 1985 as a priority for nomination to the National Register of Historic Places.  Little has changed in that area until the recent spate of vacant properties, blight, and demolitions have threatened it.  The eminent demolition of this house, and its neighbor at 143 W. First street, would create a large gap in an otherwise unbroken block face. 143 and 147 are two of three side by side houses that are identical, save for the trim elements. A large imposing brick house at the east end of this block face has been inappropriately gutted by its owner and will be unlikely to survive.  The proposed demolition of 143 and 147 will leave two occupied Victorian era houses isolated from the neighborhood on the east end of this block.  Across the street demolitions have begun to seriously encroach, already isolating houses on the edge of the neighborhood nearest St. Peter’s School. 

147 W. First Street is RIC 0228-11 on the Ohio Historic Inventory.

The house has architectural qualities that would make it eligible for the National Register of Historic Places and is part of an area that Judith Williams, the author of Mansfield’s Preservation Plan, identified as a potential National Register Historic District, of which Mansfield has none established at this time.



update on 147 w. first st.

147 W. First St.
In 2009 at the worst juncture in the Historical Society's struggle with the city over Section 106 Review, this house at 147 W. First St. came up for a Council vote to be demolished.  At that time HUD had suspended NSP funding to the city because of the administration's ongoing disregard for the review process, and for not recognizing the Historical Society as a consulting party.  I spoke up at the Council meeting urging them not to vote on this because there had been no Section 106 Review of it, and it's being on the Ohio Historical Inventory and in a potential Historic District.  Mayor Culliver, however, urged Council to take the vote but that the demolition would be held up until the review had been completed.  Council voted 5-4 to demolish. 
In the 3 years since that time no further action was taken by the city.  Brian Dormaier and I secured the board-up and mowed the property.  Home Depot donated materials and Worner Roofing put a patch on the roof at one point.  Our ongoing efforts were made to keep the property from attracting further city attention, as long as nothing was moving forward. 
Unfortunately last month we became aware that the city has torn it down.  I've contacted Community Development and they have been promising to give us the review documents or Ohio State Preservation Office approval, but we are coming up on 1 1/2 months now with nothing forthcoming.  I'm assuming at this point that no review was done.  This is disheartening considering all the work that has gone into reviewing hundreds of demolitions for over three years now.  Out of all of those properties, the Historical Society had spoken up for this house, its neighbor at 143 W. First, and 331 Prescott.  143 W. First had dropped off the radar because it had a new owner. 
Another situation that we are in right now is that the city has not exercised a proper Programmatic Agreement with the SHPO, and with the Historical Society signed on as a consulting party.  We are now dangerously close to the same situation we were in in 2009 when NSP funding was suspended.