Archived Story

City cannot afford to save the hall

Published 9:15am Friday, July 5, 2013

It looks like Ironton’s Memorial Hall will soon very likely see its last days.

Last week, the Ironton City Council’s Finance Committee voted to move forward with funding for the demolition of the former city building and jail. Council as a whole will still have to vote for the actual demolition, but seeing how this structure has continued to collapse in on itself and be allowed to deteriorate, this seems to be the best course of action.

We have long advocated that the city government did not need to be in the building restoration business and that a nonprofit organization or preservation group should step forward.

That hasn’t happened.

The city simply doesn’t have the money to try to salvage the building, and residents are asked to foot the bill for enough already.

Ironton’s other community organizations have their hands full with things such as the restoration of the Ro-Na Theater and the beautification and development of downtown.

But, before bringing in the wrecking ball, council should explore the idea of turning the land into a small pocket park and determine if keeping the tower and archway of the historic building standing is a feasible concept.

If this could be accomplished, with minimal additional expense, it would add some green space to downtown and preserve a key part of Ironton’s history.

Letting go of the past can be a painful and heartbreaking process, but holding on too long can be costly and damaging to the city’s future.


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  • Poor Richard

    Thanks, mickakers. They don’t even try! My friends tell me it is the apathetic people that live in this area and I shouldn’t expect too much concern about any issue that requires hard work. I’m not sure if it’s the hard work or they just don’t know how to go about organizing.

    Just look at our county courthouse, they don’t take care of it either. It is a mishmash of modern and historic, ridiculous looking. When I am in the courthouse it reminds me as if someone hauled in a bunch of secondhand building materials or scrap from various eras and installed them in the courthouse. That junk greatly diminishes the grandness and historic nature of that building. I think we all understand that certain upgrades need to occur but I don’t believe that means stringing wires across the ceilings and staircases, punching holes in historic materials or cutting out doorways for aluminum doors. Heck, even the Ohio Statehouse still has the tall wooden doorways.

    My suggestion for the courthouse would be to move some of the offices and/or courts out and leave the main offices in the courthouse. Seems to be a lot of empty buildings in Ironton that can be RESTORED AND USED, isn’t their one or two REAL CLOSE to the courthouse?

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  • mickakers

    Poor Richard; As a PS: Here in St. Augustine, restoration on private (houses) and public buildings takes place on a daily basis, at great expense I may add. I have a friend who has restored an old Victorian house (downtown) to it’s original luster. It has taken him several years and a substantial outlay of cash but the results are more than worth it and the nice thing, he has indoor sanitation and running water!, an advancement up and beyond the Victorian lifestyle but maintaining the appearance.

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  • mickakers

    Poor Richard; My compliments on your Historical perspective. Look at St. Augustine, Florida and Williamsburg, Virginia, they have preserved their heritage and are thriving (more than) communities. Your comment “Giving up – well, that’s the easy way out. Trying to convince yourselves you are doing the right thing – forget it – because you are not.” Encouraging! Ironton and Lawrence County need more cheerleaders like you.

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  • Poor Richard

    Mickakers, I wholeheartedly agree with your comment, the principal responsible party is the city. As for my own comment I believe that Ironton, an historic city in its own right, is making a terrible mistake and I by no means believe that every avenue for saving and restoring the structure has been explored or expended. If we want something bad enough as citizens, we can make it happen.

    Giving up – well, that’s the easy way out. Trying to convince yourselves you are doing the right thing – forget it – because you are not.

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  • mickakers

    As an interesting PS: As a youngster, I spent a lot of time romping the creaky wooden floors and staircases of Memorial Hall. My brother, Sgt. James W. Akers served twenty years with the men in blue on the Ironton Police Dept. Carl Selb (Gun Smith & Historian) was the Maintenance man. The majority of my brothers years of service was spent on the desk, he had a degree in Journalism and History from Defiance College and worked as a reporter on the old Ironton News and Courier. He was assigned to the Police beat and fell in love with law enforcement, resigned from the newspaper and hired in on the Police force. Min Grimes (spelling) the Grand Lady of the Tribune was a great friend of his. Father John Quinn (Assist. Pastor at St. Joseph) used to hang out at the desk with Jim, his brother was a Police officer in New York. A lot of fond memories and the stories go on and on, as the stories and history of Memorial Hall do. It is sad when a peoples sacrifice their heritage.

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  • mickakers

    I agree with the comment “that the city government did not need to be in the building restoration business”, however, seeing that “the city government” is responsible for the decline and desolation of Memorial Hall due to lack of maintenance and upkeep, the ultimate responsibility lies with the City government (the people of Ironton). On my recent visit to Ironton (May) I took a walk around the Grand Old Lady (Memorial Hall) I found it difficult to understand how any intelligent individual could allow this to happen. swampcreature; My compliments on your comment. I agree wholeheartedly. TribuneSubscriber; Your comment has, sad to say, factual merit. Tribune; Your comment “Letting go of the past can be a painful and heartbreaking process, but holding on too long can be costly and damaging to the city’s future.”, is good judgement. This did not need to be so. Neglect and ignorance are the contributing factors.

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  • TribuneSubscriber

    It is sadly true due to the city’s neglect that this
    historical building must be destroyed by tearing it down.

    But… I would remind the citizens of Ironton, that a man
    gave the city some sketches he drew of a well thought out
    city ‘mini park’ that included using some of the large
    sandstone blocks to make a 3-way wall and placing flag
    poles behind the wall dedeicated to the memory of all
    city and county veterans of all wars. and a center block
    of the original building on it.

    He also sketched 2 out door large shelters that could be
    used for private use once they were reserved ‘free of charge”
    for any group to utilize. these buildings had built
    in grills and concrete tables and seats and walkways
    around the entire block with benches and places where
    Ironton in Bloom could work with the city to place trees
    and bushes and lots of in ground flowers & roses etc.

    I say go with that mans dream of a lovely park for EVERYONE
    to share in and in reality not that much costs…

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  • swampcreature

    City government jumped head first into the building restoration business when council appropriated $200,000 to put a new roof on the Ro-Na.

    Memorial Hall has far greater historical value than the Ro-Na. It was constructed by the G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic- the Union Army veterans) to commemorate the sacrifices made during the Civil War. Presidents have made speeches from the steps of that building as the D.T.I. tracks allowed them to stop here during election campaigns.

    Unlike the Ro-Na which was in private hands, Memorial Hall was negligently allowed by our elected officials to slip into disrepair.

    With the decline of city industry and the downtown business district, about all Ironton has left is its rich history. Sadly, unlike most cities, Ironton seems to have little interest in developing historical districts and embracing preservation.

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