Apartments To Replace Historic Athens Building

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The Athens community will be saying "ciao" to Bella Vino, but the historical significance of the building still remains.

The building known as Bella Vino used to be a late 1800's mule barn, a stable where animals were kept that helped Athens' thriving brick industry.

Athens County Historical Society Director Ron Luce explains, "It was part of the Athens brick industry, which thrived between about 1893 to 1920… And it's one of the last remaining buildings in that area."

Luce has been one of the biggest advocates for preserving the historical site, claiming that keeping old buildings like Bella Vino could attract outside visitors and give pride to its current residents.

Apartments will replace Bella Vino and the first floor will serve as a parking garage.

Although Luce lost his battle to save Bella Vino, he wants the residents to keep in mind that the history of Athens is important to the town.

"The bigger picture is that I think many of us in Athens view a future which incorporates an understanding and appreciation of our great history and culture" and Luce believes that losing sites like Bella Vino will be losing a part of Athens' past.

Ric Wasserman who bought the property understands the building used to be a mule barn but does not see the historical significance.

Wasserman stated that there was not much he could do to save the building.

“The building itself is very old and filled with termites,” Wasserman said.

Without regard to the outcome, Luce was satisfied knowing that the notion he had been pushing for the entire time has finally been acknowledged.

With this new decision, Luce hopes that situations like Bella Vino will not happen in the future and Athens will continue to preserve its old history.

Luce shared that he wants to see Athens celebrate its present as well as its past. 

"That combination of the old and the new can create a wonderful place for people to come and to want to live," said Luce.