Aug. 06--A national historic site that statewide preservation experts consider in danger of falling apart has been purchased by a preservation society that has advocated for the structure's upkeep since forming three years ago.
Businessman Larry Rickard, owner of the Great Lakes Medieval Faire in Trumbull Township, sold the four parcels making up the Unionville TavernAug. 5 to the Unionville Tavern Preservation Society for $90,621.88, according to the Lake County Auditor's office.
The negotiated purchase comes a day before the property was headed to a Lake County sheriff auction because of $81,000 in unpaid property taxes.
"My client was very pleased that the property could be salvaged for its historical value as opposed to being bought by another group," Gary Pasqualone, an attorney representing Rickard, told The News-Herald by phone Aug. 6.
The back taxes have also been paid, according to Pasqualone and the Lake County Treasurer's office.
The Unionville Tavern, built in 1798 at 7935 S. Ridge Road, is often touted as Ohio's oldest tavern, a frontier post office, a lodging spot in the Western Reserve expansion and a station in the Underground Railroad.
For the last three years, the wooden structure has been included in Preservation Ohio's top list of endangered historic sites.
On Aug. 6, the Unionville Tavern Historical Society issued a press release announcing the purchase, and plans for the structure's eventual rehabilitation.
In its campaign to purchase the property, the group had raised $17,686 crowd-funding on GoFundMe.com. In addition, the group "received the support of a major donor who has asked to remain anonymous at this time," according to the press release.
No expert has inspected the interior of the building and the cost to rehabilitate the building is unclear.
"In the coming weeks, the Society's plans include working with engineering and building experts to assess the Tavern's structural deficiencies and to institute necessary stabilization efforts before this coming winter," spokesman Brian Horgan said in a statement. "Definitive stabilization will require major architectural and building expertise requiring additional fund-raising efforts as part of the overall plan to preserve the building. The structure has been neglected for a very long period of time."
The release did not state how much money the group has raised for stabilizing the structure. Horgan did not immediately respond to a voice mail for further comments.
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