Residents in Deerfield Township are continuing their fight to save what some call the “heart” of the township.
The Friends of the Twenty Mile House plan to hold a public rally at 4 p.m. Tuesday in front of the historic building at Columbia Road and U.S. 22/Ohio 3.
Supporters say they want to build awareness and support for preservation of the 19th century property.
“This building is an irreplaceable treasure that should be preserved for the betterment of our community,” said Kim Grant, the organization’s vice president. “It is an important and prominent landmark.”
Constructed in 1822, the property once was a stagecoach stop and it’s also been a restaurant. It is not listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The property’s owner, Jeff Black, had contracted to sell it to Speedway, which planned to tear down the building and construct a gas station and convenience store, for $800,000.
Those plans stalled last summer when Warren County commissioners denied Speedway’s request to build a new driveway off of Columbia Road.
Black has said Speedway didn’t want to spend $200,000 for a right turn lane on Columbia Road that the county engineer’s office required. He also had said he doesn’t have the money for the turn lane.
Black and his company, CJMKC Realty Co., filed suit in January against Warren County Engineer Neil Tunison, county commissioners and Deerfield Township trustees who he accused of blocking the proposed development on the property.
He dropped the suit in April when Speedway decided not to buy the property.
There have been dozens of suggestions for the building such as preschool or kindergarten, artist studios, offices for dentists, doctors and lawyers, or putting in three or four chain restaurants, said Steve Link, president of the Friends of the Twenty Mile House.
In February, the group presented a petition with more than 2,000 names asking township officials to find alternative buyers who would preserve it.
The property is on the market for $750,000, which is well below fair market value, according to Black. He has said that its sale could include demolition of the building.
Link said his group is focused on finding a solution that benefits both Black and the community.
“Of course, we all support property owners’ rights, but this 190-year-old building is a rare jewel that has a rich history dating back to the formation of our state,” he said. “We urge people to join us as we continue to look for support in the form of funding, creative ideas and public awareness.”
For more information on the group’s efforts or the rally, call 513-583-5829 or go to www.FriendsofTheTwentyMileHouse.org.