MANSFIELD -- Local historical officials will not stand in the way of the destruction of the Jacob Laird house, as long as the property is first adequately documented.
Leaders of the Richland County Historical Society, Mansfield Historic Preservation Commission, the Ohio State Historic Preservation and the City of Mansfield are expected to sign a memorandum of understanding with the Richland County Land Bank before the house at 171 W. Fourth St. can be demolished.
Alan Wigton, president of the Richland County Historical Society, said he understands the dilapidated structure needs to come down.
“Some (properties) have historic significance and even though they may be unsavable, we comment (on them),” Wigton said. “Amy (Hamrick) and Bart (Hamilton of the land bank), they put some aside -- marketable ones -- and they put some in the auctions; they’ve found buyers for some. And we’re happy with how the way the process is working here.
“I think we’re better in a lot of respects than other cities," Wigton said.
He and one other woman were the only people to attend the land bank’s first of two public meetings about the property on Thursday.
Julie Rohl of the Richland Preservation Action Group requested a chance to tour the building. She’d like to find an alternative to demolition -- perhaps a buyer with the plans and resources to fix it -- and wanted to see the extent of the damage for herself.
But like Wigton, she didn’t verbalize any strong opposition to demolition, if other options were first exhausted.
Before the meeting, the Richland Preservation Action Group made a Facebook post reading, “Today, 1 p.m., at the courthouse is the public meeting for the Jacob Laird house. Hopefully this meeting will yield perhaps the start of a conversation about citizens and local organizations helping the Land Bank in cleaning up and marketing their more viable properties.
“This house may not be ‘saved,’ but others might, and the Richland County Land Bank has put forth much effort not to dismiss historical or architectural significance currently and in the past.”
Hamrick expressed an interest in alternatives, if Rohl or Wigton could offer something. As of now, she said, she’s had only a few calls about the property -- less than she had anticipated.
“The only thing we’re really opposed to is leaving it as is. If we can find someone who wants to do something with it, that is absolutely fabulous, but if not, I do feel we need to do what we can do, establish a paper trail (document it),” Hamrick said. “Then, it needs to be eliminated. It’s obviously going to become unsafe and a major issue.”
For now, she’s suggested the land bank document the property via a woman recommended by the Richland County Historical Society, and then offer someone an opportunity to salvage the remaining architectural pieces. As of now, she’s only received one request.
Mark Milliron, codes and permits manager for Mansfield, said he doesn’t feel confident about the building’s structure. He expressed the most concern for the floors.
“It’s taken a lot of work, so it is starting to absorb quite a bit of water on the inside, too,” he said.
The next public meeting is set for May 23 at 7 p.m. in the upper floor conference room at the Richland County's Longview West Center, 1495 W. Longview Ave.
To read more about the house or the man who once lived there, see Richland Source's previous report here.