Two sites — one in Akron and another in Kent — are a step closer to being added to the National Register of Historic Places.
The Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board signed off on the nominations Friday of a poultry keeper’s cottage at Akron’s Stan Hywet Hall & Gardens and the Franklin Hotel that is being renovated in downtown Kent. These were among nine properties across the state the board approved.
Ramona Smith, who, along with her late husband, industrial designer F. Eugene Smith, bought the cottage and turned it into their home, was thrilled about the board’s decision. She said this was something her husband always wanted.
“This was one of the last things he regretted — that we didn’t get this done,” Smith said. “I put my head to it and we got it done.”
Smith persuaded her husband to spare the poultry cottage, which he planned to raze, after they bought the property in 1955. The house originally was connected to a chicken run.
The two nominations still must be approved by the Ohio state historic preservation officer and then will be submitted to the National Park Service, which oversees the national register.
“We should know in about 90 days,” said Tom Wolf, a spokesman for the Ohio Historical Society.
The cottage was nominated as an example of early 20th-century Tudor Revival architecture and for its association with Stan Hywet. The Franklin Hotel, built in 1919 at the initiative of Kent business leaders who recognized the need for a modern hotel to serve the city, is being recognized for its association with Kent in the early 20th century.
Wolf said making the list of historic places carries benefits for the owner, not only for the prestige, but also, for income-making properties, for tax credits. He said the owner of a money-producing site with a historic designation is eligible for a 20 percent federal income tax credit, as well as a state income tax credit.
This is good news for Ron Burbick, the developer who is restoring the rundown Franklin Hotel. Burbick has received tax credits for preserving the landmark, and work is under way to restore the building.
Dan Smith, Kent’s economic development director, called the hotel “a 30-year monument to blight.” The building has been mostly vacant since 1979.
“It would have been cheaper to build new, but it shows how we honor our heritage by saving it,” he said.
Crews are replacing the grout on the exterior while awaiting approval from the preservation office on replacement windows.
The hotel is in the middle of a $100 million face-lift in downtown Kent, and officials said the historic designation recognizes how the city and developers have tried to preserve history while bringing the city center into the 21st century.
“This is exactly what we hoped our efforts would yield,” Dan Smith said.
Ramona Smith sees the same significance for the designation for her property. She said some have questioned whether seeking the honor was worth the time and the effort.
“It’s a contribution to the history of the time you live,” she said. “I feel good about it. It’s special.”
Stephanie Warsmith can be reached at 330-996-3705 or email@example.com.
Paula Schleis can be reached at 330-996-3741 or firstname.lastname@example.org.