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Historic house slated for demolition

Submitted photo A sign in front of a house at 326 N. Park Ave., Warren, that was built in the mid-1890s notifies the public that a demolition permit request has been filed.

WARREN — Cindee Mines is tired of seeing local history disappear one building at a time.

The Champion resident and Trumbull County Historical Society board member is trying to raise opposition to the proposed demolition of a historic house at 326 N. Park Ave.

“If there’s an outcry like with the trees (cut down) by the Kinsman House (in 2019), maybe there’s someone else who would step up and save it,” Mines said.

This isn’t an abandoned property controlled by the city. It is owned by 312 North Second Street LLC, a limited liability corporation set up by Steve Coon of Louisville, who also owns the Packard Flats building next door at 318 N. Park Ave.

Tony Iannucci, executive director of Warren Redevelopment and Planning, said, “The problem is people want everything to be saved, but no one wants to come up with any money to do it. It comes down to property rights.”

The three-story, wood-frame house with a distinctive turret on its front south corner was built in the mid-1890s for Julia M. Harsh, a descendent of one of the first families to settle in Warren.

“These are our founding families,” Mines said. “This is how we started out. They’re the reason we’re here.”

According to Mines’ research, the house was impressive enough for its time that it was written about in 1896 by Building Age, a national building and construction trade publication. The story said it was designed by Warren architect Milton Logan and cost $5,000 to build.

According to the Trumbull County Auditor’s website, 312 North Second Street LLC bought the property in 2014 for $35,000.

Coon filed a demolition request last September with the city.

“The information he gave us, it was extensively vandalized on the interior,” Iannucci said. “He gave us pictures showing the woodwork, bannisters, staircase all removed. It was pretty well gutted … Coon’s intention now is to take the house down and use that lot as parking for the apartments (in the Packard Flats building) that he plans to restore.”

Coon is out of town, according to the person who answered the phone at his business, Coon Restoration & Sealants Inc. in Louisville, and could not be reached for comment.

The city posted a sign in front of the house earlier this month announcing “Notice of Proposed Demolition of a Historic Building,” and the sign will be up for 30 days before a decision on the permit is made.

Outside of a buyer reaching an agreement with the owner to move the existing structure to a different location, Iannucci wasn’t encouraged about the house’s survival.

“Cindee is a preservationist. She would like to save everything, I understand,” Iannucci said. “I’m tasked with looking at the economics of it, including the owner’s rights.”

Mines said she believes WRAP does have the power to deny the permit, and she believes the house is worth saving.

“Other than just having a public outcry that makes it hard, I don’t know what I can do,” she said. “I’m not a business person; I’m a retired LPN (licensed practical nurse) … It might get knocked down, but if you don’t try, I’m just as guilty as the person driving the backhoe.”

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