Former home of BGSU presidents to be demolished
Written by HAROLD BROWN Sentinel City Editor
Saturday, 21 July 2012 07:58
Bowling Green State University confirmed Friday it is seeking bids to demolish a house in which four of its 11 presidents have resided.
Located at 838 E. Wooster Street just west of South College Drive, the structure was originally a kit home from Montgomery Ward, built in 1930 and renovated in 1950.
The house has served as the home of BGSU's Department of Popular Culture since the 1970s.
In late May the university demolished two structures directly west of the 838 address.
"I can confirm we are planning on demolishing the building," BGSU spokesperson David Kielmeyer said Friday afternoon. "It is in poor condition and would require a substantial investment to bring it up to being minimally acceptable."
He said the site, along with the adjacent properties where the buildings were demolished in May, is "one of the sites being considered for a new student health center." He declined to name other sites being considered.
The university announced earlier this month it was in discussions with Wood County Hospital to operate a new health center within the next two years. The present University Health Center is located on Ridge Street at Willard Drive.
Kielmeyer said Popular Culture will be moved to Shatzel Hall, where it will join the other departments that make up the School of Cultural and Critical Studies. That move could happen in the next two weeks.
"We hope to move fairly quickly on the demolition and have it done before the start of classes (Aug. 20)," Kielmeyer said.
He said the university is proud of its heritage but officials "do not feel the house is particularly significant. There have been many other buildings sold or demolished over the years to meet the needs of students.
"The university is moving forward with plans to preserve and renovate University, Hanna and Moseley halls." Kielmeyer said there is no timetable for those renovations but public and private funding are key to those projects moving forward.
Already on the demolition list for this fall are the remaining structures of the former H.J. Heinz factory at Ridge and Enterprise streets. That demolition will cost $135,000. The former United Christian Fellowship complex at Ridge and Thurstin was demolished in recent weeks.
Dr. Roy Offenhauer, Dr. Frank J. Prout, Dr. Ralph W. McDonald and Dr. Ralph G. Harshman lived in the home at 838 E. Wooster during their terms as president between 1937 and 1963.
After Harshman moved out, the home became the BGSU Alumni Center and then the Popular Culture offices. The Alumni Center relocated to the Mileti Alumni Center on Mercer Road in the 1970s.
The first presidential home was at 725 E. Wooster St., an 1880 two-story frame farmhouse. The then newly-founded Bowling Green Normal College purchased the home from the Wooster family, early settlers in Wood County, in 1914. First president Homer Williams lived there until 1939.
According to a brochure titled "Presidential Residences," which the university published in 2009, the first residence was later used as to house women students, as the counseling center, the Faculty Club and Delta Sigma Theta sorority. The home was demolished in 1973 to make way for the parking lot and access south of McFall Center.
When William T. Jerome III was named president the university acquired an existing home at 625 Hillcrest Drive in the Westgate subdivision. Dr. Hollis A. Moore Jr., Dr. Paul J. Olscamp, and Dr. Sidney Ribeau were later residents. Ribeau moved into a private residence from 2002 to 2005 and later became the first president to reside in University House at 700 S. Wintergarden Road.
University House was purchased by Bowling Green State University Foundation Inc., and given to BGSU as a residence for the president.
Dr. Carol A. Cartwright lived in the home during her time at BGSU and it is now occupied by the university's 11th president, Dr. Mary Ellen Mazey.