December 17, 2014

Elyria
Cloudy
31°F
test

After 38 years, blighted Lorain house to come down

The house at Fourth and Hamilton streets in Lorain will get demolished after sitting empty for nearly four decades. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

The house at Fourth and Hamilton streets in Lorain will get demolished after sitting empty for nearly four decades. BRUCE BISHOP/CHRONICLE

LORAIN — In 1976 as the nation celebrated its bicentennial, Loraine Ritchey grew concerned about an abandoned, blighted house on her block.

On Friday, the house at 1034 W. Fourth St., a symbol of Lorain’s housing decay and city and state bureaucratic delays, will come down, ending a 38-year battle.

Ritchey, co-founder and co-chairwoman of Charleston Village Society, a neighborhood improvement group, said delays were largely due to the house being in a historic district. Charleston Village is Lorain’s oldest neighborhood and began as a trading post in 1807.

The area, which included a gathering space in what is now Veterans Park on West Erie Avenue, was named Charleston Village in 1834. The village was renamed Lorain in 1874 after Lorraine, France.

Ritchey said squatters occupied the home as recently as a few months ago. The home is near Lorain Community Elementary and Middle School at 1110 W. Fourth St., which Ritchey said exacerbated safety concerns.

Ritchey said she wrote numerous letters to the Ohio Cultural Facilities Commission, which oversees historic areas, and Lorain officials. The effort began with the administration of Mayor Joseph Zahorec, who served from 1972 to 1980 and in 1984.

Ritchey said the administration of former Mayor Joe Koziura, who served from 1996 through 1999, got homeowner William Gow to put a new roof on the house. Gow couldn’t be reached for comment Wednesday.

Ritchey said then-Community Development Director Sandy Prudoff tried to get the house rehabilitated about 10 years ago. Prudoff is now imprisoned on federal corruption charges.

The 1,800-square-foot house, built in 1900, has a total market value of $33,260, according to the Lorain County auditor’s website.

The house is being demolished with money from the Lorain County Land Bank and the Moving Ohio Forward Demolition Grant Program, a state-run program, said Mayor Chase Ritenauer.

Ritchey credited the aggressiveness of the Ritenauer administration for putting the wrecking ball in place. The administration has demolished some 170 blighted homes since Ritenauer took office in 2012.

“I told them when they came into office, ‘That’s my icon house,’” Ritchey said. “It was the poster child.”

Contact Evan Goodenow at 329-7129 or egoodenow@chroniclet.com.