Group Hopes To Save Ohio House
By Margaret Foster | Online Only | Aug. 24, 2010
A mansion built in 1909 in Vermilion, Ohio, needs a new purpose.
Used as a museum since 1951, the building, known as Harbor View, will be abandoned next May, when the Inland Seas Maritime Museum moves to a new location in Toledo.
"We want to save the house," says Margaret Wakefield Worcester, whose grandfather, F. W. Wakefield, built Harbor View. (The property was donated to Bowling Green State University, which leased and later sold it to the Great Lakes Historical Society and Inland Seas Maritime Museum.) "I'd like to see it as a community center or a museum of Vermilion history."
Vermilion, located on Lake Erie and once known as the "village of lake captains," is home to almost 11,000 residents. Hundreds of them have joined a committee to save the National Register-listed house. Their committee has entered Harbor View in the National Trust for Historic Preservation's This Place Matters Community Challenge, which will award $25,000 to the site with the most votes.
The town of Vermilion, which lacks funds to maintain the house, isn't likely to step in to buy the structure. With no new owner or use in sight, Worcester and her group are concerned about the house's potential deterioration.
"The sooner somebody can take over the property, the better," Worcester says. "I definitely would not want to see it turned over to a private residence because then it would become private, and the public would not be allowed to go on the land."
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