Upper Arlington News

Late efforts fail to save historic Hutchinson House

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The final chapter in local preservationists' efforts to save a 192-year-old Upper Arlington home came to a close last week when the building was razed to make way for an apartment complex and office development.

Crews working for Preferred Living demolished the Hutchinson House Nov. 20, ending three weeks of work by the Upper Arlington Historical Society and others who had sought to save the structure and relocate it intact.

"It's a terrible shame," said Upper Arlington Historical Society President Charlie Groezinger. "We're losing a piece of history there, and it's just a shame that a 192-year-old home had to be lost to another apartment building."

The house at 5292 Riverside Drive dated to 1821 when Revolutionary War veteran Amaziah Hutchinson began its construction.

Hutchinson died in 1823, before the stone house was completed, but his son, Amaziah Hutchinson Jr., took up the project and completed it later that year.

The house near the corner of what now is Riverside Drive and Bethel Road was one of the oldest in Franklin County and one of the few still standing that was affiliated with a Columbus-area Revolutionary War veteran.

UAHS officials and other preservationists who joined the effort to save the home had worked to relocate it after learning the city of Upper Arlington granted Preferred Living a demolition permit Nov. 1.

"We lost the battle," Groezinger said. "In all honesty, it was a very long shot."

Preferred Living delayed demolition for 10 days while preservationists evaluated the home and scrambled to raise money to save it, but ultimately proceeded with the development.

Over the past three weeks, Preferred Living did not respond to calls or emails for comment.

Although disappointed, Groezinger last week said he understood the developer had rights as the owner of the land on which the Hutchinson House sat, and that the onset of winter likely required quick action to prepare for the construction project.

He also wished Upper Arlington officials, who worked for nearly a year with Preferred Living on development plans and the annexation of the land from Perry Township, had alerted his organization about the historical value of the home earlier in the process.

Through that frustration, however, historical society officials hope the Hutchinson House's demise will change how their organization and the city account for older structures throughout Upper Arlington.

"We could identify all the buildings and they could also let us know when anything is even being talked about," Groezinger said. "Obviously, the outcome wasn't what we wanted, but we hope at least what we get from this is better lines of communication between the city and historical society.

"We lost this house. Let's not lose the next one."

Upper Arlington Community Affairs Director Emma Speight said the city is working to that end, reviewing its processes for identifying the historic value of homes and buildings -- including those such as the Hutchinson House that are outside Upper Arlington's historic preservation district.

Speight reiterated the Hutchinson House slipped through the cracks after Upper Arlington Parks and Recreation Director Tim Maloney informed the community and economic development staff roughly a year ago there was an old home on the site Preferred Living was targeting for annexation and development.

She noted the home didn't become a part of Upper Arlington until last summer, and the historical society was contacted about it after the issue came before a larger group of city staff members during site-readiness meetings last month.

"(Planning staff) look at plats, land histories and those sorts of things," Speight said. "Nothing flagged. It didn't trigger in their minds.

"There also were multiple public hearings on this project. No one in the community put two and two together. It was an unfortunate situation."

The city sent a truck to the site Nov. 21 to salvage some of the home's stone on behalf of the historical society. Speight said the city will store the materials until a later use can be determined.

Groezinger said the historical society plans to establish some type of structure with the stone, which he said would commemorate the home and the Hutchinson family and serve as an education tool. He's working with city officials to have it permanently displayed in an Upper Arlington park.

"We'll have something made from those stones that we can put a sign on that would tell the history," he said. "We don't know what that will be."

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