Friday, 8 February 2013


Building 26 - Threatened with demolition

ATHENS, Ohio — Ohio University has angered local preservationists by resuming plans to demolish a nearly 90-year-old building on campus.

The Athens County Historical Society and Museum has been trying to persuade the university to spare what it calls a historically significant structure and find some other use for it.

“Building 26,” as it’s called, was first a tuberculosis ward connected to a mental hospital started shortly after the Civil War and later a school for people with developmental disabilities.

The university put plans to raze the building on hold last year but announced this week that it will be demolished next month.

The building is empty, and OU has said it is an “attractive nuisance” frequently subject to trespassing and vandalism, often by students who have heard ghost stories about it. The school got $300,000 from the state to help pay for its demolition.

The female wing of the former Athens Lunatic Asylum
The university had initially said it wanted to have the building knocked down before last Halloween, an especially popular time for break-ins. But under pressure from preservationists, it agreed to postpone the demolition.

Ron Luce, executive director of the historical society, said on Tuesday that his organization had located a Columbus developer who was interested in renovating the building and turning it into low-income housing, but OU “never so much as returned an email to the guy.” He would not identify the developer.

OU spokeswoman Katie Quaranta said the university did respond to an inquiry from a potential developer but decided to stick with its plans to demolish the building.

The university obtained the building and others collectively known as the Ridges from the Ohio Department of Mental Health in a land swap. It is using many of the other buildings.

Story: ColumbusDispatch

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