- Michael D. Pitman Staff Writer
A group of Fairfield residents has asked the city to delay a vote on demolishing a 19th century home in hopes it will be converted into an educational facility.
The Save the Cooper House committee, lead by resident Dean Bruewer, is passionate about saving the building because it was owned by Thomas Cooper, an immigrant that was one of the first inhabitants of what is now the city of Fairfield.
“This is critical to the areas to preserve the cultural heritage of Fairfield,” Bruewer said. “This actually was more than likely the first inception of the first settlement within (what is now known as) Fairfield.”
The land was eventually transferred from the Cooper family to Ellis Muskopf, one of the city’s first council members, according to Bruewer.
Bruewer said the group’s goals are in line with the city’s parks mission of preserving Fairfield’s history, and an educational and environmental education center “fits perfectly in the whole context of what the parks board wants to do with Marsh Park.”
The Cooper House sits on the former Muskopf property that the city purchased earlier this year with a $250,000 Ohio Public Works grant. The grant prohibits the city from making a profit from the property.
The 3.3-acre Muskopf property includes a barn — which has since been razed — and the 1824 Cooper House. The city had intended to raze the Cooper House and expand the parking lot of Marsh Park.
Fairfield Mayor Steve Miller said the city doesn’t need to subsidize another historic building, as it does with the Elisha Morgan Mansion, a registered historic building on Ross Road. The city subsidizes that building, which hosts community and private events, at $40,000 a year, he said.
“We want the wallets,” Miller said, adding that if the property will be used for educational purposes, then Fairfield City Schools should play a role in funding its upkeep.
“If it’s going to move forward, you’re going to need a firm commitment from the schools — both that they’re in and how much money are they going to put forward to it,” he said.
More than 700 people have signed a Change.org petition in favor of saving the Cooper House.
The Save the Cooper House committee isn’t just adult residents. Sam Schwamberger, a junior at Fairfield High School and a member of the school’s tree club, said her group wants to see the Cooper House saved.
“It’s such a great opportunity for students to have an alternative learning space for environmental science,” she said Monday evening. “The Cooper House is a part of Fairfield’s history. Not only is it important to maintain this piece of Fairfield’s history, but it will create a place where the community can learn about the environment and a new place for people to explore.”
Miller said City Council will take the group’s requests “under advisement” but won’t give a commitment at this time.