Saturday, September 14, 2002

Queen Anne house demolished

Lebanon preservation effort fails

By Cindi Andrews,
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — A 19th-century house that has been the source of controversy since City Council bought it for more than twice its value in 1999 was torn down Friday.

        “It's just another tragic loss in the comedy of errors put on by Lebanon City Council and the Planning Commission,” said Jerry Miller, a downtown shopkeeper and incoming president of the Lebanon Conservancy Foundation. “It's a very sad day.”

        Council voted earlier this year to tear down the Queen Anne house at 5-7 Cherry St. to increase open space in Bicentennial Park. The park has been planned for several years in the downtown block bounded by Main, Mulberry, Cherry and Mechanic streets, but it currently features little more than a gazebo and two parking lots.

        In fact, none of the Labor Day weekend celebration of the city's bicentennial took place at Bicentennial Park, but rather at the Warren County Fairgrounds and the city-owned soccer fields.

        Workers will add some landscaping this fall to make the park more user-friendly, City Manager George “Pat” Clements said Friday.

        “It remains to be determined what the long-term plan for the park is,” Mr. Clements said.

        In April 1999, the city paid $150,000 for 5-7 Cherry, which the Enquirer later reported had been valued at $63,040 by the county auditor.

        The conservancy — a private, nonprofit group that's restoring another old house at 27 N. Mechanic St. — asked that the building be restored and used for an art center.

        The conservancy put about $15,000 in materials and labor into the effort before its council supporters were ousted by voters last November and the new council targeted the house for removal.

        City officials said early this year that restoration would cost $200,000, whereas Friday's demolition cost about $8,000.

        The conservancy had hoped to at least move it to another location but could not find a place, Mr. Miller said.

        Another building in the Bicentennial Park block — currently occupied by a Goodwill store — could also be torn down, Service Director Scott Brunka said, although there are no immediate plans to do so. The Lebanon Theatre Company wants that building saved and turned into a theater.


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