Built in the 1920s, Longwood Manor was in such a state of disrepair 80 years later that the city almost tore it down. Thanks to the work, donations and volunteering of many, the house is not only still standing, but has a place on the National Register of Historic Places -- an honor it received in 2014.
"It's the heart of the city -- there is nowhere else you can go in Macedonia and say that," said Longwood Manor Historical Society member Janice Radigan.
Longwood Manor was constructed in 1924, but a 1926 fire destroyed the original house which was rebuilt and completed in 1928. The Tudor revival style home sits on 300 acres of land that belonged to Colonel William Frew Long, the founding mayor of Macedonia and a veteran of World Wars I and II.
Long's homestead was originally a working farm with an additional farm manager's cottage and two barn complexes. The farm included apple orchards, wheat fields, chickens and Shorthorn cattle.
One barn was built in 1925 and a second was built around 1930, along with the cottage. The city demolished the cottage in 2006, but both barns are still standing and in use by the Macedonia Service Department.
The home was not just a house and a farm, but also served as Long's office, a place for community meetings and other events.
Upon Long's death in 1984, the manor, along with the land, was willed to the citizens of Macedonia to be used as a park. "It's the largest public park in the state," said Phil Long, LMHS secretary.
The city added public restrooms where the garage was, and used the house for various events, such as ghost hunts, the Christmas with Santa program, a nursery and even temporarily as city hall.
But in February 2007, public use of the home was stopped due to building code violations and safety concerns. The house went dark as the electricity was turned off and maintenance of the home was stopped. Water sat in the basement as there was no ability to run a sump pump, the roof began to leak and caused holes to form in the ceiling. Animals became the manor's only residents, and the windows were targets for flying golf balls.
Unwilling to spend money on the dilapidated structure, the city in 2011 granted the Longwood Manor Historical Society responsibility for the home's restoration.
The move saved it from those who wanted the building razed.
LMHS President John Cassmer said other groups had tried to revive the manor before but were unsuccessful.
"We're here now because a lot of people stood on other's shoulders," said LMHS Vice President Dan Havlicek.
Members of LMHS said former members like Gayle Wharton, Kathy Thomas, Kim Griener, Rosalie Koren and others paved the way for the home's salvation.
Yet there remained a lot of work to be done.
Cassmer said the Manor had been completely closed down, no one was allowed in the home because it was condemned.
Cassmer said the historical society set about their first mass mailing in 2011, asking for help and donations from area residents and businesses. He said the response was encouraging.
One of those who stepped up to the plate was architect David Smith, who helped develop restoration plans, including a roof rebuilding plan, plans required by the city planning commission and plans for a possible fire sprinkler system. Cassmer said Smith has made his fees very reasonable for the historical society's cause.
Fike Builders donated and replaced a failing main beam, front porch supports and rebuilt the basement staircase. David Fike said his father, Paul, had been on City Council when Long was mayor.
"I would just like to see this building come to fruition, and be used by our community and keep the history of Col. Long," Fike said. "I think it is important to keep some of our history." Fike said he had been in the Manor during the 1970s to replace the home's front porch beams, when Long was still living in the home.
The latest item Fike has helped with was replacing beams on the patio of the home, which had become infested by carpenter ants.
Fike and Mark Jackson of Jackson Heating in Northfield Center worked together to get the home's gas service restored last November.
Jackson said he had to get East Ohio Gas Company to run a new line to the house.
Dusty Basmagy, a Twinsburg resident who grew up in Northfield and attended Nordonia High School, is a professional roofer who donated his time over 2013-14 to reroof the home.
Basmagy said he worked throughout the summer months on weekends with other volunteers.
"It was just a cool old building, and I am in construction," he said.
"I always thought it would be cool to have a building like that as a house where you fix it up and bring it back to the original state or as close as possible.
"I just thought it was a shame that the city had this kind of a decent building and they were just going to tear it down."
The Tapco Group donated Inspire Roofing materials, which Basmagy had used while roofing the Richard Howe House in Akron.
Brian Marucci, who was with The Tapco Group at the time of the Manor House project, said the company donated approximately three-quarters of the roofing materials.
"We had a policy when I was there, that anytime there was a historic restoration -- where there was old slate or old roof and someone was trying to restore it to its old look -- we were always interested in trying to provide the material," Marucci said.
He added the uniqueness of the job was also a factor attracting Tapco to the job.
An appreciation for the house is what drew Macedonia Glass to replace numerous windows that had been broken by golf balls. Nathaniel Zronek, of Macedonia Glass, said they have replaced 15 to 20 windows -- at no cost. He said the second-floor casement windows were built by Weaver Window Products in Middlefield.
Waterproofing the east side of the home during the summer 2013 took three days, according to Richard Bissell, owner of Bissell Excavating. "The old pipes were all full of mud and there were splits in the foundation," said Bissell. Bissell said he excavated the wall, cleaned the wall, and Jim Turrell, of Turrell Construction, plastered the wall at no charge.
Bissell excavating also installed new footer drains. Bissell said the only thing LMHS had to pay for was the actual cost of the stone and pipe.
Bissell had also pumped water from the basement in the winter of 2013 since there was no power to operate drains in the building.
Landscaping work was performed by the Macedonia Service Department, Green Grass Landscaping and Whisper Wood Landscaping.
Work to be done
Though the power has been restored recently and the manor is no longer being threatened with destruction, there is still much work to be done.
Cassmer said the goal is to re-open the Manor for activities and to be a museum while maintaining it in its historic condition.
The first floor of the house is scheduled to be repainted and re-plastered in coming months, as is the second floor. Drywall is also in need of repair in two rooms, and the dining and living rooms are in need of new carpet.
Havlicek said part of the plan is to have a room to display memorabilia from area veterans.
"Long served in both world wars, and served on the war planning board until the end of World War II," Havlicek said.
An electrical upgrade is a priority on the list because the manor still has ungrounded, 1920s-era wiring.
In the meantime, Havlicek said the society would like to to remove brush that currently hides the home from Route 82 -- along with landscaping around the home's entrance and eventually restoring the old driveway that once wound around toward the house through an orchard.
Cassmer said the society would like to create a 44-space parking lot with two handicap parking spaces, and possibly install a sprinkler system. He said these are must-have projects before the house can be opened to the public for events. To make the restoration complete, LMHS is seeking grants, but also looking for donations of period furniture and any additional historical artifacts from Macedonia or former Mayor Long to complete the decor.