YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (WKBN) — A Youngstown historian once described saving the city’s old buildings as a triage — all of them can’t be saved so pick the best ones and try. One of the best is the Calvin Center on lower Mahoning Avenue. It’s 145 years old and started as a school then was a worship space and rec center. Now the plan is to make it a small hotel.
“So this is one of the proposed spaces,” said Timms.
Boardman native Erin Timms, 47, Thursday afternoon showed one of the former classrooms at Youngstown’s Calvin Center which she hopes by Sept. will be one of the seven rooms of her new hotel.
“So it’s a little big bigger than a regular hotel room. A lot of light and an open space,” said Timms.
Timms is educated in industrial archeology and historical preservation. She knows what she’s getting into.
“Some days it feels like, you have to have faith, but it feels like you’re going to fall off a cliff. You’re jumping into this hope that there’s going to be something that comes next,” said Timms.
The building opened in 1877 as Youngstown West Side Schools. One room has the original chalkboard. All the wooden floors and many of the doors are also original. Around 1950, the Hungarian Presbyterian Church next door bought the building and it became the Calvin Center.
“They buy the building and their plan was to turn it into a rec center and they did. They ran it for a number of years. They added the church and the gymnasium,” said Timms.
There’s a large room on the third floor that was the school’s auditorium.
“And they were kids so they didn’t care if they climbed the steps,” said Timms.
Timms plans to break this space into three hotel rooms. She’s already working on one of the bathrooms. She bought the building for $87,000 from her late brother’s estate. She’s already spent $60,000 on renovations and it’ll take another $190,000 to make it a hotel.
“It has great bones. It’s a beautiful building. It has amazing light and history to it, and there’s so little of this in Youngstown, and to preserve it and to get involved and be active really matters,” said Timms.
Timms hasn’t yet settled on a name for the hotel. She’s planning to keep the Calvin Center name for catered events in the gym and have another name for the hotel.