Residents battling demolition of iconic 1800s Franklin building

Franklin City Council received complaints from residents who are not happy about the upcoming demolition of the historic former Eaton-Anderson Funeral Home.

Two people complained to the council on Monday about the upcoming demolition of the structure, which sits on a hill overlooking downtown Franklin. The 6,000-square-foot house has a value of $370,000, according to Warren County property records.

Resident Jim Gooding expressed concerns about the appearance of the downtown area and around the Laynecrest Shopping Center areas as well as losing the funeral home to demolition.

“This could have been prevented,” said Liz Buchanan, a member of the Franklin Historical Society.

She asked council to start a historic preservation committee, something that has been discussed in the past.

MORE: Iconic funeral home overlooking Franklin since the mid-1800s is slated for demolition

Buchanan said she understands the bottom line is money, “but there should be other options, possibly placing it on the (National) Historic Register.” She said she understood the financial issue as the historical society maintains the home of the late Maj. Gen. Forrest Harding who served in World War II. The Colonial Revival house was built in 1900 in Franklin’s historic Mackinaw District (on the National Register of Historic Places).

“I think it would make a nice restaurant or a bed and breakfast,” she said. “I think it’s worth preserving.”

Buchanan said she wondered if Anderson contacted the Ohio State Historic Preservation Office about possible preservation of the building built in 1843 and is located at 121 E. Second St.

She said she understands that not all buildings are worth saving, but she said the city is not making any progress in this area.

After Buchanan spoke, Mayor Todd Hall agreed it’s a shame that it is slated to be torn down but also pointed out that it’s the property owner’s right to dispose of the building. Hall also said it was up for sale for a few years and there were no bidders when Charles Anderson tried to auction it off.

“Some people have a lot of ideas about downtown, but they don’t want to make the investment,” Hall said.

He suggested that people volunteer with Forever Franklin, its Main Street program for downtown to help the city and move things forward. Hall and other council members said if people want to invest in these buildings, they have to buy the property in order to control their destiny.

Councilman Matt Wilcher said he “sees the challenges but I never thought I would see it go down. It’s nice to save these buildings but at the end of the day, it’s Anderson’s property and he’s put a lot into it…. Sometimes you have to erase the old to make way for the new.”

Councilman Denny Centers agreed. “I hate it,” he said. “Hopefully the historical society will go after some grants and try to save some of these buildings. We need them to take the lead.”

Vice Mayor Brent Centers said historic preservation is an aspect of the city’s new comprehensive plan. He also praised Anderson’s service to the community and how he continually gives back to the community.

The house became a funeral home in 1945 until about 15 to 20 years ago. Since then, it’s been used as a training facility and office space. Only the former funeral home will be demolished and the adjacent house and multi-bay garage will remain on the property. He said the goal will be to reorient the property to build a new building for a company wanting visibility.

About the Author