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Published: Thursday, 1/12/2012 - Updated: 2 years ago

Seneca Co. courthouse demolition continues to draw residents' ire

Crane expected to be fixed Thursday

BY JENNIFER FEEHAN
BLADE STAFF WRITER

The interior of the Seneca County Courthouse stands exposed to the elements as a light rain falls on the third day of demolition. The interior of the Seneca County Courthouse stands exposed to the elements as a light rain falls on the third day of demolition.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

TIFFIN -- Standing in a light rain Wednesday, Andrea Robinson and her 9-year-old son, Logan, watched as two excavators ripped apart Seneca County's historic courthouse.

"It makes me feel sick," said Mrs. Robinson, who moved to Tiffin seven years ago. "I can't believe that the people that live here, that are from here can't see the importance of it."

Dust billowed from the rubble despite the rain and a steady spray of water onto the work area. The excavator bit off pieces of the courthouse then sifted through the debris to sort into piles the large pieces of sandstone and various scrap metal -- structural beams, window frames, radiators.

Dick Distel of Tiffin was disgusted by the sight. Though he had plenty of criticism for Seneca County Commissioners Jeff Wagner and Ben Nutter, who both pushed for demolition, he conceded the problem started well before they took office.

"It's really not these commissioners. It was the ones ahead of them that didn't take care of it," Mr. Distel said. "I really think it could've been saved. Oh well. It's too late now."

RELATED CONTENT: Seneca County Courthouse coverage

PHOTO GALLERY: Courthouse demolition 1-11

As more than two-thirds of the interior of the front side of the building was exposed, those watching the demolition could see the beauty soon to be taken to a landfill -- ornate wood trim, solid cherry doors, a cast-iron staircase.

"Just look at that beautiful woodwork," said Kristine Clouse as she watched from the front window of Assured Title Agency at the corner of Market and Washington streets with her two young sons and Valerie Clouse, who works there.

"It's kind of sad," Valerie Clouse said. "It would have been nice if they would have salvaged it and auctioned it off. They could've made a lot of money."

Brothers Lance, left, and Carter Clouse watch the demolition from the Assured Title Agency. Brothers Lance, left, and Carter Clouse watch the demolition from the Assured Title Agency.
THE BLADE/AMY E. VOIGT Enlarge | Buy This Photo

Paula Crum of Tiffin dismissed claims that the building was too far gone to save and that the county couldn't afford to renovate it.

"We would've had the money -- it's not the money," she said. "For some reason [the commissioners] just wanted it down."

Mr. Wagner long contended the vacant courthouse was a downtown eyesore and that it was time to demolish it and "move forward."

Mr. Nutter said the cash-strapped county couldn't afford to renovate the courthouse and couldn't afford to continue maintaining it.

The board voted 2-1 in November to hire B&B Wrecking and Excavating of Cleveland to demolish it and create a level, seeded lot for $373,000. Though B&B intends to have the job completed by Feb. 1, its crew has been met with several delays, including mechanical problems with its crane.

B&B President Brian Baumann said he hopes to finish repairing the crane Thursday and also plans to bring in a bigger excavator. He said workers plan to remove the cornerstone Thursday morning with commissioners on the site as witnesses.

The cornerstone, which was put into place in 1884, is believed to contain a copper box that was placed there as a time capsule.

If it is found, it would be opened at a later date when the public could be present, according to the commissioners' office.

Contact Jennifer Feehan at: jfeehan@theblade.com or 419-724-6129.



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