Group may get 18-month extension to preserve Manor House

by Jeff Saunders | reporter Published:

Macedonia -- The Longwood Manor Historical Society may get an 18-month reprieve in its efforts to save the the condemned home of former Mayor William Frew Long.

After a half dozen LMHS volunteers asked City Council Jan. 24 to extend their permit to find a way to preserve the structure, Council President Ken Martin asked the city's law department to draft legislation granting the extension for Council's Feb. 14 meeting. The permit is due to expire at the end of February, said Council Clerk Josephine Arceci.

"We will revisit it at the next meeting," said Martin.

Martin also said he would support the LMHS' efforts to develop architectural construction plans for the home's renovation.

"I'll donate $100 of my money," he said.

Councilor Dave Engle offered to donate his $150 monthly reimbursement in lieu of medical benefits that Council members became eligible to receive last year.

Long, who served as mayor from 1962 to 1976, when he was 96, bequeathed the home and nearly 300 acres to the city when he died in 1984. The land is now Longwood Park, with property on both the north and south sides of Route 82.

Council approved an ordinance in 2002 making the LMHS the home's official caretaker. For several years, society volunteers worked on the home and attempted to raise funds for its upkeep, but were unable to make enough improvments to keep the city from condemning the building for numerous building code violations in 2006.

Council ultimately granted an indefinite delay in demolishing the Manor House and approved the permit last February.

LMHS President John Cassmer told Council that the society has retained an architect to draw up the plan and LMHS volunteer Dan Havlicek said the society has about $1,000 for the plan, but will need as much as $2,000.

Cassmer said the LMHS has also received help from local contractors, which have offered their services at low or no cost, including Paul Fike Builders, which replaced a rotted support beam last fall, and Macedonia Glass, which replaced windows last summer.

Cassmer said the LMHS is also seeking more such help, as well as private funding, including grants, but believes the city should share the responsibility.

Volunteer Jan Radigan said the LMHS has worked hard to preserve the house, but has limited resources.

"We do the best we can. After all, we're all volunteers," she said.

LMHS Treasurer Deb Mikulski said the society has had numerous volunteers who have been committed to saving the house, which she said could be used for a variety of things, such as historical exhibits for the public.

"No one would throw support in it if they thought it was useless," she said.

Havlicek extolled Long, who served as a pilot during World War I and in a "civilian capacity" during World War II and was a successful businessman, farmer and beekeeper who "made Macedonia what it is." He said he is upset that the city may demolish the home.

"I cannot imagine a mayor or a Council who would contemplate such a terrible thing," said Havlicek. "I'm angry and sad that this has even come up and it shouldn't have come up."

Rose Cassmer, John Cassmer's wife, said she believes that the Manor House could become a centerpiece of the city and that it should be possible to find "alternative" funding.

"It would be a symbol of Macedonia," she said.

Mayor Don Kuchta said he does not believe any city officials want to demolish the house, but the city is limited as to what it can do.

"I don't think there is any argument with anything anyone has said," he said. "It is an asset to have a beautiful historic building. But how do you get from point A to point B without giving up services?"

Volunteer Marc Zeleznik limited his comments to an unanswered question.

"How would Macedonia benefit by tearing it down?" he asked.

Email: jsaunders@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9432

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