CINCINNATI - Supporters of the historic Gamble House in Westwood are now struggling to find new legal ways to save the house and property after a ruling made by a state appeals court.
The Ohio 1st District Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday the property's historic designation was not enough to keep government agencies from granting demolition permits to its current owner.
Cincinnati's urban conservator had previously ruled the Werk Road house where Procter and Gamble founder James N. Gamble lived for 60 years has historical significance.
The Westwood Historical Society was disappointed by the appeals court ruling in favor of Gamble House owner, Greenacres Foundation, which wants to demolish the house and utilize the property for other purposes.
"From our standpoint, again, we're disappointed to hear this," Greg Kissel of the Westwood Historical Society said. "We don't know if this is the end or not. We'll need to see some things that are going to play out over the next coming days or weeks. It's still in Judge Dlott's court, federal court. There is still a possibility of an appeal by the city."
There was another side to this court decision, however. Greenacres Foundation representatives said they were pleased with the court decision.
"Greenacres feels and has felt that it is on the correct side of the law and the Court confirmed that opinion and we thank the Court for reaching what we think is the correct legal decision," said Carter Randolph, Greenacres' executive vice president.
The court case is bigger than historical societies, foundations and government agencies, though. The court's decision could have a major impact on the Westwood community.
Gamble House supporter and next door neighbor, Jan Peek, said the court's ruling upset her.
"My first reaction was tears because we've been fighting pretty hard for this," Peek said.
Peek worries her own family future may be tied up in what ultimately happens to Gamble House.
"The sad part for us is, depending on what Greenacres decides to do with it," Peek said. "We may be selling our house because we don't want public housing here. We've been told that it will be a school bus turnaround for their educational system."
However, Peek is still optimistic there will be other legal opportunities to keep a wrecking ball from tearing down the 1830s era house.
"We still have, possibly have hope on this because there is yet another court case to go through now," she said. "Whether Greenacres has the right to do demolition before it goes through with this last court case, we don't know. We have to wait and find out about that."
While supporters of Gamble House figure out their next legal moves, they also said they will be nervously keeping an eye on the house in hopes they won't see a demolition team on the property in the next few days.
Additional information on the continuing fight to preserve the Gamble House are available on the web site of the Cincinnati Preservation Association.
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