The Southwick-Good & Fortkamp Funeral Chapel has closed, and many Clintonville residents are concerned about what will happen to the property at 3100 N. High St.
The site, one of the most historic properties in Clintonville, is a developer's dream.
Apprehension in the neighborhood prompted Clintonville Area Commission Chairwoman Libby Wetherholt to add an emergency item to the agenda for last week's meeting.
Clintonville Historical Society President Mary Rodgers opened the April 6 session with a detailed report on the background of what came to be known as the Clinton Chapel, and asked for the commission members to help determine the will of residents regarding preservation.
The property is "now in transition," Rodgers said, the result of owner William Good and his wife, Susan Southwick-Good, deciding on a "well-deserved retirement."
Rodgers wondered aloud if the historic building would be preserved or torn down to make way for development.
"There are thousands of possibilities in that in-between area," she said.
Rodgers said it was her understanding that the property was not in contract for sale, but that the owners had a contract.
District 4 CAC representative Judy Minister, a real-estate agent, said the listing agent told her the offer had been accepted.
William Good told The Columbus Dispatch for an April 6 story that an offer close to the appraised value of $1.5 million had been received.
District 1's David Vottero urged Rodgers, who knows the Good family, to encourage them to hold an open house to "increase visibility and awareness" of the site.
"I think more community awareness would be a good thing for them," he said.
Thomas Bull, whom Rodgers credited with being the founder of Clintonville, designated the half-acre site in his will of 1823 for a church, which eventually was built in 1838, according to the Ohio History Central website.
The church site was an important stop on the Underground Railroad, as well as home to a cemetery with at least 72 headstones and the unmarked graves of 34 Civil War soldiers, Rodgers said.
In 1882, Methodist Church officials closed the Clinton Chapel and it became a private residence, first for artist David Walcutt and later for famed theater set designer Mathias Armbruster, Rodgers said.
In its centennial year, R.L. Southwick bought the Clinton Chapel and relocated his funeral business from across the street.
In response to a question about what happened to the people buried on Clinton Chapel property, Rodgers said she came across a 1910 newspaper story that said the bodies were to be moved to Union Cemetery at no cost to the families.
Rodgers, who works at Union Cemetery, said she has been able to find the graves of only eight.
"I'm thinking we could have a cemetery under a parking lot," she said.
Minister urged people to write to Mayor Andrew J. Ginther and City Council President Zack Klein, both Clintonville residents, asking them to help "save the last remnant of old Clintonville."
"It is the oldest building in the neighborhood," Minister said.
Jason Meek of District 7 said Minister was not speaking for the entire commission.
"This is private property," he said. "An individual has the right to sell their property."
District 2 representative Nancy Kuhel said, "The people purchasing that property, we would hope, would do the highest good for the whole community."