January 18, 2012
The old Delaware County Home, which formerly housed the county’s poor, elderly and mentally ill, could be slated for a spring 2012 demolition following a vote from Delaware County commissioners to hire an inspector to examine the derelict property for historic value.
Delaware County will pay $5,000 to $10,000 to hire a historic preservation specialist who will examine and photograph the condition of the building, located at 4841 County Home Road, and search for possible unmarked burial sites, among other things.
Because the county wants to use $20,000 in federal funds to destroy the home, commissioners first need to determine doing so wouldn’t rob future generations of its historical value.
Delaware County Economic Development Director Gus Comstock called the study an “unexpected cost;” county officials think the building, built in 1875 and derelict since county commissioners closed it in 1996, is structurally unsound and unsafe.
“We just thought the Ohio Historical Preservation Office would send a letter back saying the site is deteriorated beyond having any historical value, but now they want us to document the historic review for future generations,” Comstock said.
The study should take two or three months, Comstock said. Barring any unforeseen circumstances (like the discovery of unmarked graves) that would dramatically increase the project’s estimated $20,000 demolition cost, the building could be ready to come down once cold weather breaks in 2012.
The study will also require approval from Delaware city and the Buckeye Valley school district, which owns the building.
Delaware County commissioners voted in June 2010 to take about $180,000 in leftover money from the federally-funded project that paid for demolition of the former Delaware Hotel, the old county home and about a dozen other properties.
In September 2010, commissioners hired a contractor to perform the various demolitions, but most have not yet happened.
Another property on the county’s demolition project list, a county-owned two-story house at 116 N. Sandusky St., still stands and will likely stand for some time to come. Delaware County commissioners bought the house for $295,000 in 2006. At the time, commissioners intended to demolish the home to build a new county courthouse, but a new board of commissioners abandoned the courthouse project in 2008, and the building has remained vacant.
After the county bought it, Delaware city declared the home part of its historic district. That means the county will have a number of hurdles to climb, including approval from Delaware City Council, if it wants to tear it down.
Comstock said the county’s economic development department wants to get the old county home project done first before moving onto the Sandusky Street house demolition. But even if it comes off the backburner, it won’t be a sure bet.
“It’s going to be a challenge because the house is structurally sound. So you have to make a pretty strong case that you want to tear down a historical building that has structural integrity to it,” Comstock said.