WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – Big changes are scheduled to come to Warren this September. The owner of the Packard House says renovations will start then and should be completed in a year. But a petition to save the historic home next door has gained nearly 1,000 signatures.
It was once a beautiful and lavish home with crystal chandeliers, marble sinks and ornate wooden details. Now, the windows are missing, the paint is chipping and the wood is rotting. It’s slated to be knocked down later this year but one man is hoping to save it.
“It was featured in a national magazine in the 1890s as a model of home building,” said activist Nicholas Kafantaris.
Kafantaris is a Warren native who works in construction. He lives in Los Angeles now but has taken up the mission to try to save 326 North Park Avenue, otherwise known as the Harsh House.
“A Moorish-domed cupola, two other Moorish domes on top of the porch — these details are called Victorian eclectic. You don’t see them everywhere,” Kafantaris said.
Property owner Steve Coon agrees that what’s happening to the Harsh House is a shame.
“It’s the whole ball of wax from 100 years ago,” Coon said.
Coon owns a company specializing in restoring historic buildings but says vandals broke in and stole everything of historic value.
“The plumbing and wiring was one thing but they took all the light fixtures, the stained glass out. They stole all the fireplaces, the pocket doors,” Coon said.
He estimates it would cost more than $1 million to restore the house to its former self.
“Literally, they took a chain saw and cut the entire stairwell out with a chainsaw. They completely demolished the building,” Coon said.
Still, activists say the building itself is historic and should be saved.
“The owner cites that the property is too far gone, that it should be torn down, but I disagree. I think that the facade is important and more than enough to save it,” Kafantaris said.
He’s hoping his petition will be enough to convince the city to step in and save the Harsh House as they did with the Wood House in the 1990s.