Grove City Council gave its OK for the city administration to proceed with the purchase of what is believed to be the oldest house in Grove City.
On Monday, March 17, Grove City Council voted 4-0 to authorize the purchase of the A.G. Grant Homestead at 4126 Haughn Road, which is believed to have been built around 1840. Council President Ted Berry, Councilman Steve Bennett, Councilwoman Laura Lanese and Councilman Jeff Davis approved the purchase. Councilwoman Maria Klemack-McGraw attended the meeting but left prior to the vote to attend a funeral.
The city will pay $350,000 for the house plus an additional amount of up to $10,000 to cover the owner's attorney fees related to the purchase.
The property has been listed in the United States National Register of Historic Places since 1998.
A.G. Grant was the grandson of Grove City's original resident, Hugh Grant, and as a business owner and contractor, he was responsible for much of Jackson Township's and the village's development.
The house is owned by Ruth V. Jividen, 99, a descendant of Grant.
"Ruth has fought her whole life to preserve (the house)," said Steve Jackson, president of the Southwest Franklin County Historical Society. "I can't think of a better 100th birthday gift than to take that burden off her shoulders."
As part of the terms of the agreement, Jividen will be entitled to remain in possession of the property during her lifetime, but the city will be responsible for maintaining it.
Mayor Richard "Ike" Stage said the city's long-term plan is to turn the property into a walk-in, living museum. The purchase of the property includes a number of artifacts in the house.
"It's a learning location for youngsters, but it's a piece of history we want to preserve," Stage said. "The whole site is of historical significance. ... It's a prize piece of real estate."
Jim Hale, chairman of the city's Historical Commission, read a letter from the commission in support of the purchase. Hale said the house could serve as a "community anchor" for historical preservation and community education as well as a tourist attraction in the future.
"The purchase of the Grant Homestead is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," he said. "It can be a very important move."
Jackson said the historical society, the city and other groups have been working diligently to make the community a destination for visitors.
"We're almost there," he said. "One or two other key (historical) sites and we'd have enough for a tour group."
Hale said he envisions a shuttle service that would take people on guided tours to different sites throughout the community.
"We certainly have a lot to offer if we can tie it all together," he said. "There's a lot of ideas, a lot of creative ideas."
Bennett said he has some concerns about the costs of renovating and refurbishing the property, what sort of impact it would have on the Town Center and what was going to be done about parking. The property is located at the intersection of Haughn Road and Park Street and extends from Haughn to Gladman Avenue.
Stage, speaking two weeks ago, estimated the total project could cost $1 million.
Berry said while the project would be expensive down the road, he is very much in favor of it.
"Trying to protect things like this, especially when it's one of a kind, is important," he said.
Stage said the city can take its time with the property, adding that nothing immediately has to be done with it.
"It'll be a work in progress," he said. "It's a seven-year project."