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City of Cuyahoga Falls to renovate 144-year-old farmhouse

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Posted at 5:06 PM, Sep 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-09-21 18:26:47-04

CUYAHOGA FALLS, Ohio — After decades of languishing in limbo, a historic homestead near Keyser Park in Cuyahoga Falls will receive an injection of investment in hopes the quaint farmstead can stand for another century.

Mayor Don Walters announced Tuesday morning that the City of Cuyahoga Falls has committed to saving the Keyser-Swain Farmhouse from the brink of demolition by completing a total exterior renovation. Two additions to the 144-year-old farmhouse that conflict with the home’s original aesthetic will also be removed.

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The renovations of the farmhouse as well as the nearby Northampton Town Hall, estimated to be more than $200,000, will be funded through savings from other projects, Walters said.

“There’s a ton of history there. We merged with Northampton Township in 1985. They became part of our city. However, there are still a lot of the original people that lived in Northampton Township that would like to see this preserved,” Walters said. “It sat idle for a long time. The barn was restored; the house was not. We’re prepared to make it structurally sound and redo the entire exterior.’

Next door to the Keyser-Swain Farmhouse is a large barn that was also on the family’s property before the family donated the land to the city to make up what is now Keyser Park. The barn was renovated in 2012 as part of the bicentennial and is often home to concerts, musical performances, and other community events.

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The house was built in the late 1870s by John Best Junior, a veteran of the Civil War.

In the early 1900s, Leona and Alva Keyser purchased the property and nearby farm and lived out their lives on the estate prior to their deaths in 1957. The City of Cuyahoga Falls took control of the estate in 1992.

“It’s a beautiful setting. It sits at the top of a hill. People drive by every day. It’s kind of out of sight but you can see it from the road. We knew it was important to preserve this house. However, for years and years it just kind of sat there,” Walters said. “When we checked out the inside, it needed a ton of work. But it’s structurally sound so that’s going to make it easier.”

In February, Summit County building inspectors issued a demolition order on the property, which put a renewed emphasis on the historic preservation of the farmhouse. Currently, the city does not have plans to remodel the interior of the home, which would require an additional, sizable investment.

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The joint revitalization of the farmhouse and the town hall is being done in an effort to reinvest in the preservation of Keyser Park, Walters said.

“It’s historic in the fact that the family that lived in this house donated all that land for a park. A lot of people visit that park,” Walters said. “It just makes sense to preserve the house.”

Pat Lavoie and James Knight, who stopped by the property to check out the barn and wood sculpture of Chief Pontiac were pleased to hear the home would be saved. Far too often, historic properties unceremoniously meet the wrecking ball, Knight said.

“It’s something you can never get back. If you don’t save it now it will be lost forever,” Knight said. “It takes a long time for something like this to be that old and still be significant. I’m glad that people are willing to take this time, see that, and to have that vision. These are real treasures. They’re worth saving.”

Work is expected to begin later this year and should be complete by mid-2022.