Hocking College Looks To Take Down 113-Year-Old Building

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The Hocking College Foundation may take down a 113-year-old building located on Nelsonville’s Historic Public Square.

“We haven’t gotten bids, but we have talked with contractors,” said Libby Villavicencio, the foundation’s director. “We’re considering our options, but we do think we’ll have to take it down because of its condition.”

The beige and white structure, known as the Mechum building located at 77 W. Columbus St., has peeling paint. Wooden paneling near the roof is either missing or dangling precariously. Pigeons appear to be nesting in the gaps.

Ron Luce, director of the Athens County Historical Society and Museum, said he hasn’t visited the building in person, but he said he’s been told it’s in “deplorable condition.”

“I’ve heard the whole building is leaning sideways,” Luce said. “When they get to that shape, restoring them gets to be a huge undertaking. You can’t save them all.”

Although, he added, the structure has inherent historical significance given its location on the city’s square.

According to a quote created 12 years ago, renovations would cost about half a million dollars, said Villavicencio.

“Based on that, we started to think about what we could afford — that’s why we talked with contractors,” she said. “They’re echoing that it’s in really bad shape.”

Initial estimates say the cost to tear it down will be about $50,000, she added.

The building and land were last appraised at $106,310, according to the county auditor.

In its glory days, the Mechum building served as a department story. The name of the building is said to come from the family who owned it, explained Laura Alloway, Hocking College’s spokeswoman.

The foundation bought the building from Nelsonville Towne Centre Inc. for $89,000 in 1999. The foundation initially used the building as a wildlife products store and taxidermy business, said Alloway. It was later rented to a non-profit arts organization, then used for classroom instruction until 2009, when it was converted into a storage facility.

Before moving forward with plans to tear it down, Luce said, the foundation will have to work with the state because it is designated as part of the historic district.