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Residents Want to See City's History Stand Through Old School

Multiple people spoke out to city council Tuesday to save the 93-year-old building.

The Twinsburg Old School was built in 1920 and could be demolished soon. Credit: Twinsburg Old School Committee
The Twinsburg Old School was built in 1920 and could be demolished soon. Credit: Twinsburg Old School Committee
For months Twinsburg resident Michael Turle has been heading a grass-roots movement to save Twinsburg's Old School from demolition, paving the way for an updated downtown.

At the Tuesday, Aug. 27 city council meeting, Turle rallied his supporters to ask city officials to postpone the demolition and look for a way to renovate the 93-year-old building, with little cost to the city.

"I am asking of one of our councillors to have the courage to make the motion to suspend any efforts toward demolition put to a vote of the people the preservations of the Twinsburg Old School for a fine arts center," Turle said.

At the end of the meeting At-Large-Councilman Gary Sorace made the motion to ask the Architectural Review Board to postpone the demolition at it's Sept. 5 meeting. Sorace and Ward 2 Councilman Bob McDermott were the only members to vote in favor as it was turned down 5-2.

Save the Old School

"Safeguard the heritage of Twinsburg, by preserving structures or sites that represent its time," Irwin Gemlich  of Ravenna Road, said to city council, leading off the ranks wanting to share their thoughts Tuesday.

Many cited the historical meaning of the building which was built in 1920 and was Twinsburg's only school until the late 1950s. It was closed as a school in 1992.

An emotional Virginia Wetzel, now of Bedford, said the aging building is the one thing that welcomes her home to Twinsburg.

"One of the few things that had not changed was the Old School," she said.

Others took a more creative approach to share their thoughts. Mary Welsh Koohnlein shared a poem a friend of hers had written on the fond memories of the building.

"It's not just the building you destroy, it's your own history you forsake," she read.

In 2012 a local architect told the city it could cost anywhere from $5 to $8 million to renovate the building. Sheryle Kvitko chairs funding and research for the Save The Old School campaign. She said those numbers weren't accurate after calling the same architect.

What they want is much different than a feasibility study, Kvitko said, to renovate one section at a time would be much less costly.

"We've done so much research," she said. "It's a beautiful building. Knocking down the Old School, you're destroying the history of people who live here. Give us a year and let's see what we can come up with.

Turle said after the meeting that he was disappointed but appreciated the council members who tried to hold off on demolition.

"What's the big hurry on bringing this thing down?" Turle said. "Let's look at some options."
Peter Hale September 03, 2013 at 11:28 AM
One more thought Nassman. We don't want to CHANGE plans for our community, we want to finally, after years of wanton destruction by The City, to KEEP the plan we have. At last council the Mayor proudly showed a 2007 Comprehensive Plan with the Old School being demolished like it was the Holy Grail and perfect proof that the school should be razed. I see it as perfect proof that the City has a history of ignoring our Charter and Zoning Ordinances to suit their personal agendas.
Jonathon September 03, 2013 at 01:41 PM
I'm a resident and a voter, and right now, I'm asking for some additional time... Why the rush to demolish the Old School? Unless there is a plan in place that the public hasn't been informed of??? So, what is the harm in letting a group a people try and find some funding/use alternatives and determine the true cost of some renovations options. I believe that it would be "fiscally irresponsible" not to look into all the possible alternatives. As it has been previously mentioned other cities have saved/renovated/re-purposed buildings much like the Old School. So it's not like we're the first, there are plenty of models for us to follow.
Nassman September 03, 2013 at 05:27 PM
So I voice my free speech here and because it doesn't agree with yours you have to track my family down and harass them? Whoever is leading this coordinated attack please stop it.
Peter Hale September 05, 2013 at 10:23 PM
Everyone but you has been civil here Mr. Nassman.
Michael Turle September 06, 2013 at 07:57 AM
Ditto Peter Hale, one only has to click on your name here Mr. Nassman to read your previous comments about anything you commented on. You have been uncivil on this issue, and on others..,

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