The Wells Sherman saga comes to an end


Photo by Matt Hafley

Rebecca Reis

The Kent Wells Sherman House will be moved to its new home August 24 at 247 N. Water St. The historic house will move from its current location at the west end of College Avenue, where it has sat during an 11-month battle over its relocation.

According to Roger Thurman, vice chair of Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., the house will be moved in the early hours of the morning. It will be pulled from College Avenue onto Haymaker Parkway, turning right on Depeyster Street, left onto Erie Street and then right onto Water Street. The house will be passing by its original 1858 location on the northeast corner of Erie and Water streets before landing on its latest resting place.

View Kent Wells Sherman House moves to new home in a larger map

Thurman added that while the job will likely take most of the day, most of that work will be getting the house over the sidewalk and into it’s new position in the lot.

“The actual move to the lot will actually be fairly quick,” Thurman said. “Down at the lot on N. Water it will take a lot longer to get the house actually in position.”

The lot, previously known as the Standing Rock Garden, was used in the past as a community garden, an area for children’s theater group practice and an outdoor arts display, among other uses. While not owned by the Standing Rock Cultural Arts Center, the lot was maintained and used with permission of the owner.

The 1858 Greek Revival-style house was the home of Frances Kent Wells, daughter of city founder Zenas Kent, and later Dr. Aaron Sherman, a Civil War veteran and prominent member of Kent’s history. In 1924 it was moved to E. Erie Street to make way for a new business building. When the house was slated for demolition in 2012 as part of the Kent State Esplanade extension project, community members formed the Friends of the Kent Wells Sherman House – now known as Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. – to save the house.

The house moved from its location at 250 Erie Street to College Avenue to allow the Esplanade expansion, with a December deadline to find a new location.

The Kent City Planning Commission initially rejected the original relocation plan on July 17 because it placed the house 15 feet from the sidewalk. A second plan was approved Sept. 4 that placed the house 13.5 feet from the sidewalk.

Community members formed Save the Standing Rock Garden and filed a lawsuit against the city on Oct. 9 and later Kent Wells Sherman House Inc. on Nov. 2. The basis for the lawsuit was that the Kent City Planning Committee could not allow a second hearing of the same site plan after it had been denied once. Save the Standing Rock Garden also maintained that the house would interfere with the garden and block the view of Cherokee artist and former Kent resident Edwin George’s mural on Scribbles Coffee Co.’s south-facing wall.

“It’s delayed it a year and we’re just glad this legal process is over … the judge pretty much admonished those people for the lack of basis for their lawsuit and gave them a verbal spanking for sure,” Thurman said. “And so we feel vindicated by that. That’s what we said all along, we weren’t doing anything wrong, we weren’t taking anything from anybody.”

On Aug. 19 Portage County magistrate Kent Graham ruled in favor of Kent Wells Sherman House Inc., saying the fauna in the garden is not rare or endangered and the mural can be clearly viewed from the sidewalk.

“We’re really glad it’s over and we’re putting it in the past,” Thurman said.“And we intend to cooperate with our neighbors, which includes Standing Rock Cultural Arts.”

Contact Rebecca Reis at [email protected] .