Whether the Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce continues to operate from the city-owned house beside the First Congregational Church on Township Square is anyone’s guess at this point.
The house, which requires up to $280,000 in major renovations, reportedly was built for Moses Church in 1873, and it is not on any historic registry.
According to Mayor Ted Yates, a report recently compiled by Construction Resources Inc. indicates the house has several structural problems, causing safety concerns.
"There are some serious problems with the foundation," Yates said. "There are cracks between the stones, and shifting walls have resulted in cabinets pulling away on the inside. The consultant estimates up to $280,000 might be needed to fully upgrade the structure."
Yates, along with Councilmembers Scott Barr and Greg Bellan, said nothing has been decided as to what to do with the 145-year-old house, and future discussions are likely.
"Although there are some rumors circulating that the city will tear down the house, no official plan is in place," said Bellan. "It definitely needs work, and finding someone who might want to put money into it is one possibility."
Barr speculated the Chamber, Twinsburg Historical Society or First Congregational Church might be interested in acquiring it.
"I’d like to see it remain there ... it is a cool building," Barr said. "Another possibility is to seek historical preservation grants to fix it up."
Twinsburg Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Megann Eberhart said the organization’s Board of Directors is "waiting patiently" to hear from the city about what it will do with the house.
"We are comfortable in the heart of the city, and we have a lot of guests who stop in here from time to time," Eberhart said. "The city has been a great supporter of the Chamber and we are thankful for that support."
Eberhart said the 250-plus member group has not been approached by other local organizations for their new headquarters, should a move be required, nor has the group looked elsewhere as they await the city’s decision.
Councilman Bill Furey said he would like to see the city "off-load" the house, calling it "a burden on the city" and saying he doesn’t favor the city putting a lot of money into it.
He said the Chamber has been using the house rent-free for the last several years. Prior to that, the city collected rent. The city had the house appraised at $220,000 about 10 years ago, Furey said, and has owned it for about 20 years.
Eberhart said the Chamber moved into the house in 1999 after the city bought it in 1998.
"There was a short time when we moved our offices elsewhere, but we returned in 2013," she said.
Yates said the city has spent money over the years for maintenance on the house, including repainting the exterior.
The mayor noted he plans to approach Chamber officials about the possibility of the Chamber vacating the house and finding another location for safety’s sake.
"It’s not in immediate danger [of falling apart], but safety is a factor," Yates said.
Among the consulting firm’s findings at the house are:
• Plaster walls on the first and second floors are experiencing signs of movement, and cracks have developed in numerous areas of the ceilings and walls.
• Some cabinets are unstable and no longer properly secured to the wall.
" Movement appears to be present in stone walls above grade around the building, and mortar and open joints are allowing moisture inside. A capped cistern could be contributing to the moisture in the basement.
• Single-pane wood hopper windows are in a general state of disrepair. The wood is rotting and the windows are thermally inefficient.
• Concrete masonry unit foundation walls were poorly installed, are not reinforced and are leaning into the basement.
• Along the northern wall is a place where soils have washed out behind the foundation wall extension and a 2-foot deep void is present.
"We certainly want the Chamber staff to be safe," Bellan added.
Reporter Ken Lahmers can be reached at 330-541-9400 Ext. 4189 or email@example.com