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Irwin Building

Maschek’s vision for the Irwin Hardware Building.

Garrettsville – Main Street has avoided the wrecking ball and will retain its storefront profile, thanks to action taken by Garrettsville Village Council and Mayor Craig Moser.

“We are moving ahead with needed repairs on the Irwin Hardware Building,” Moser reports. “Council authorized the mayor and clerk to do so at the October 21 meeting.”
Work has already begun on the two repair projects that will shore up the sagging Irwin Hardware Building and retain the four businesses that depend on its structural integrity. The building at 8143 Main Street is privately owned by Michelle R. Ward Clayton, but has stood vacant for years and is under foreclosure.
Two adjacent buildings containing the businesses of Shiffer’s Clock Repair & Sales, Miller’s Lawn and Garden, Hearth & Home Fireplace Shoppe, and podiatrist Dr. Michael Maschek are structurally integrated with the Irwin building. These business owners would have been forced to relocate if the Irwin Building was to be demolished. They threatened to leave Garrettsville altogether if council chose to demolish rather than repair the structure. After much deliberation, council decided to accept the lowest bids for two repair projects from two different contractors.
Commercial Roofing Systems had the low bid of $20,500 for reframing and reroofing the two-story addition in the northeast rear corner of the building, where the roof  has collapsed. These repairs began November 1.
Paxson Builders submitted the low bid of $12,800 for repairing and resealing the main roof of the building and repairing the bowed-out front beam facing Main Street. This repair project should also start soon.
When completed, the repairs are expected to substantially improve the weather resistance of the building. “Most important, the needed repairs will move us away from considering the total demolition of the three interrelated properties,” Moser says.
Upon completion of the repairs, the village will place the incurred costs on the tax duplicate ($33,000 in unpaid back taxes), plus a number of liens and a past-due water bill to set a purchase price for sheriff’s sale. So, should the building be sold, the village would be reimbursed for its expenses. The village may also exercise its right to eventually sue Clayton for damages, according to Council President Rick Patrick.
Should no buyer come forward with an adequate offer, council has been approached by private developer Mike Maschek, who is committed to repairing, renovating and improving the Irwin Hardware Building to restore it into a useable space… “if and when he can gain ownership of the building for a nominal sum,” Moser says. “The village will move through the legal process toward this end. Mr. Maschek has a nice vision for this renovation.”
Maschek’s vision includes a one-year timeline from time of purchase to restore the original look of the front face of the historic building. Maschek would place two rows of five shuttered windows across the second and third floor levels, install new siding, replace the old metal awning over Miller’s Lawn & Garden with one that matches the canvas awnings over the clock shop and podiatrist’s office, re-open the front entrance over a central stairway that leads to an old ticket booth on the second floor, accentuate the ticket booth with stonework, create at least two new office/retail spaces for rent, and place moulding across the front  exterior to restore the Western Reserve architectural style to the building.

Garrettsville - Garrettsville Village Council wrestled with the pros and cons of either demolishing or repairing the Irwin Hardware Building, with several members initially hesitant to allocate public monies for a privately-owned building. Despite the controversy, detractors had to agree that the privately-owned building has become a very public hazard, due to its deterioration in the heart of the business district.
Village Council had no choice but to act before winter weather set in and caused even more structural damage. “It’s in the whole town’s best interest,” says Council President Rick Patrick. “This is a good plan. Even if we had decided to tear down the building, it would have cost the village at least $100,000 — then what? Just leave a gaping hole on historic Main Street? If this building came down, the whole block would go down with it.”
Speaking of historic Main Street, council members and contractors rediscovered an old stage still standing upstairs in the Irwin Building. Talk began about perhaps restoring it later in order to bring live theatre and musical performances back to the historic Buckeye Hall, as it was originally called.
Discussions about the stage undoubtedly evoked fading memories of the Old Opera House, built in 1889. For 75 years, Garrettsville’s Opera House was a village showpiece. The three-storied building–with its imposing bell tower–was considered the village’s cultural center for generations, hosting dances, plays, graduations, movie shows, lectures and holiday parties. It housed village hall, an auditorium, the fire station, police headquarters and council chambers.
After 69 years, structural weaknesses were discovered by state building inspectors and the future of the Opera House began to be questioned. Estimates for correcting its faults kept increasing and the huge building became a drain on the village treasury when rental fees from the auditorium stopped. The famous old landmark fell to the wrecking ball in 1964. Only the clock was saved in a new clock tower built 14 years later on the same site at the corner of High and Maple Streets, now surrounded by parking lots.
In addition to this sad history, council members recalled that Mantua’s old hardware store burned down about 20 years ago, and even now Mantua’s Main Street has an empty lot where that storefront once stood, despite the village’s efforts to attract new business there.
Village Council did not want to bring the same fate to Garrettsville, so, according to Patrick, “We did what we had to do, before it’s too late.”