By Rick Palsgrove
An Ohio and Erie Canal era building that has sat at the southeast corner of Rohr and Pontius roads for well over a century will be dismantled and moved to a new site in Groveport.
Groveport City Council approved an ordinance to grant a zoning variance to the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society for a triangular shaped property at 536 Wirt Road, located across from the Groveport Cemetery and log house, to allow the society to relocate and display the historic canal era building on the site.
“We think this building has historical significance to the area, because it shows an integral time capsule of life along the canal,” said Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society President Carla Cramer.
The society’s plan is to move and restore the 62 x 21 foot, one story, brick structure – that is believed to have been used as a smokehouse, bakery and ice house during the 19th century canal era – to the new site. The society is moving the building to preserve it because NorthPoint Development purchased 106 acres at the southeast corner of Rohr and Pontius roads where the deteriorating historic structure now stands. NorthPoint plans to build two warehouses on the site – a 1 million square foot building on the southern section of the land and a 526,500 square foot warehouse on the northern portion. (The farm house that is also on the site is slated for demolition.) Under an agreement with the Groveport Heritage and Preservation Society, Schottenstein Trustees GP will donate $80,000 and NorthPoint Development will donate $120,000 to the GHPS for the relocation/restoration project. The GHPS has 24 months to move the one story brick building. If it is not moved, the developer may take whatever action needs to be done with the property at the time.
Groveport City Council plans to deed 536 Wirt Road, a small, triangular piece of land on the north side of Wirt Road across from Heritage Park, which sits along the former canal route in Groveport, to the historical society to serve as the site for the relocated former canal building. Cramer said the plan is to move the building there and historically restore the structure.
“The building could be used as a free-standing museum piece,” said Cramer of the building. “People would not have access to the interior, but could view displays through the windows.”
Cramer said plans are to start cleaning out the old building on June 15. After that, the building will be dismantled and the pieces moved to its new site later this summer. She said the society hopes reconstruction of the building will start soon after the materials are on site. Cramer said she does not yet know how long it will take to reassemble the structure.
According to plans for the 536 Wirt Road site submitted by the historical society’s architect, Fred Hutchison of ReDesigns Architecture and Planning, the existing garage will be kept. The concrete driveway will be removed as well as the large silver maple tree. A new gravel driveway will be put in leading to the garage along the western border of the site. No on-site parking is planned as there is a parking lot across the street at Heritage Park. Regarding landscaping, the society plans to put in historically appropriate landscaping, but will keep the landscape plants and screening which already exist along the property lines adjacent to neighboring residential properties.
The city is maintaining ownership of the former Ohio and Erie Canal right-of-way land between the society’s site and the north side of Wirt Road because the city plans to construct a pedestrian walkway there connecting College Street to Heritage Park.
Carolyn Stuhr, whose Canal Street property neighbors 536 Wirt Road, expressed to council her concerns about the heritage society’s plans.
“I have an absolutely great view of the log house and cemetery. I appreciate my view and it’s very nice to have,” said Stuhr. “I’m concerned. It’s been nice and quiet there.”