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KSU preserves home of first female faculty member

By admin Published: February 21, 2012

Kent State took a first step on Monday to preserve a home once owned by the university’s first female faculty member.

A moving company rolled the modest two-story frame house about 300 feet to the south, parking it on a bare lot that had been prepared for it.

“This structure is not only significant to Kent State’s history, but is also representative of the evolution of both our campus and city,” Tom Euclide, associate vice president of facilities planning and operations, said in a news release.

Exactly what will happen to the 2,000-square-foot May Prentice house is unclear, KSU construction manager Todd Shaffer said.

KSU officials are discussing the future of the building, which Shaffer said is in good shape with the original oak woodwork and pocket doors and hardware.

But it was located in an unfortunate place. Kent State is building a brick-and-concrete walkway from downtown to campus that will run through the property.

The university bought the home and a dozen others to make way for the esplanade. Four homes have been knocked down and eight others will be demolished at the end of June, Shaffer said.

The Prentice home at 128 S. Willow St. is the only one to be preserved. The university bought the home last fall for $225,000 from Andrej M. Petryna and hired Stein House Movers of Cortland for about $25,000 to move it.

Last week, the movers used a hydraulic jacking system to lift the house off its foundation and turn it 90 degrees. On Monday the company moved it over steel road plates to its new home at 212 S. Willow St., just south of where the esplanade will be built.

The university will build a basement for the home in the next year or so and move it again to put it on top of the foundation, Shaffer said.

The house will memorialize one of Kent State’s first four faculty members and its first female instructor.

May Prentice headed teacher training from 1912 to 1930, teaching English, history of education and school management to some of the fledgling university’s first students.

“Miss Prentice loves all children, big or little, and she is always ready to help them,” the 1921 Chestnut Burr wrote of her.

She retired from KSU in 1930 and lived in the Willow Street house until she died. The house passed into other hands and was extensively remodeled.

Appraisal reports show the wall between two small bedrooms was eliminated to make a master suite, its living room was painted in vibrant blue stripes, a wooden deck was attached to the back, the basement was finished and yellow vinyl siding was added to the exterior.

The preservation of the house is the third honor for Prentice.

The university also named a three-story residence hall for her in 1959. It was in the Prentice Hall parking lot that students were shot by the Ohio National Guard in 1970.

KSU students also raised the money to pay for a glazed yellow brick and concrete gateway at East Main and Lincoln streets that was dedicated to her in 1935, weeks before she died at age 79.

Carol Biliczky can be reached at 330-996-3729 or



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