Historic Taylor School to be leveled this week in Hamilton

Credit: Nick Graham

Credit: Nick Graham

The old Taylor School in Hamilton that has become an eyesore faces demolition this week after efforts to repurpose the historic building failed.

Tom Vanderhorst, Hamilton’s executive director of external services, told the Journal-News that Vickers Demolition confirmed work will begin at around noon Wednesday. Originally, the cost to demolish the building was estimated at $100,000, including asbestos removal and other requirements, but it was finalized at $75,000. The Butler County land bank board agreed to pay $37,500 toward the cost earlier this year.

The demolition was delayed after members of People Reaching Out To Others: Celebrating Our Lindenwald (PROTOCOL) asked the city to look at other options for the 110-year-old school building on Corwin Avenue.

RELATED: Should Hamilton save a 110-year-old school or ‘bury your dead’? That decision now has more time.

The city put out a request for proposals, but Lauren Gersbach, who handles land bank business for the city, told the land bank board Monday it didn’t receive any proposals.

“We had a couple people put together a whole video-like walk through and we put it out for 30 days,” she said. “We did have one perspective developer come and walk through it, but we got no responses to our (request for proposals).”

Vanderhorst said the demolition should be finished by the weekend. Vickers will seed the lot, and the city will maintain it. The property was donated to the city in 2018. He said the donation agreement limits what the city can do with the property.

“There’s not any plans to do anything with it. There’s a donation agreement with Randy Barger, who owned it previously and gave it to the city, and we sort of have some restrictions as far as having to keep it a public building or green space,” he said. “If we redevelop it, we have to pay half of the fair market value back to him.”

Brandon Saurber, Hamilton’s director of strategy and information, said when the city sought proposals that the old school presented a conundrum.

“It’s a tale of two cities with that building,” he said. “There are those, I think even within the neighborhood group currently, those that would like to see it saved. I know some of the residents personally and particularly those who look at it more frequently, would just like to see it demoed.”

The property has been a problem for the city, as Vanderhorst outlined in the demolition assistance application.

“There have been 40 complaints associated with this property,” Vanderhorst wrote. “These include tall grass/weeds on the property, securing the structure, repairs to the exterior, repairs to the interior, rubbish on property, graffiti, junk motor vehicles on property, cistern removal and rehabilitation or demolition orders.”

Frank Downie, the leader of PROTOCOL, said he can understand the mixed the feelings about what he has termed an “iconic landmark.” He said there are some neighbors who are old enough that they once taught at the school, so its demolition will be sad for some.

“We’ve got quite a bit of historic preservation that’s in Hamilton in general and you’d like to keep that kind of stuff,” he said. “But at the same time if it’s not going to be utilized, we certainly don’t want squatters in there or it becomes a hub for any kind of criminal activity.”

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