Council votes to move Kent Wells Sherman House


The Stein Movers company pulls the Wells Sherman house over the curb onto a lot next to the Haymarker Parkway and Depyster St. intersection. The house now sits on a gravel lot at the west . Photo by Matt Hafley.

Leighann McGivern

The Kent Planning Commission voted Tuesday to approve a site plan that would place the historic Kent Wells Sherman House at 247 N. Water St., the current site of a green space utilized by Standing Rock Cultural Arts.

The house, built in 1858 for a member of the Kent family, was moved from its previous location at 250 Erie St. to the end of East College Avenue to make way for the University Esplanade Extension. Supporters of preserving the house were given a deadline of Dec. 1 to secure a new location before the house faced demolition.

Although the Planning Commission was presented with a proposal that would place the house 16 inches from the sidewalk on the green space, the Architectural Review Board recommended a site plan that would place the house between 12 and 15 feet away from the sidewalk. The site plan approved by the Planning Commission placed the house 13.5 feet back under the recommendation of the Architectural Review Board.

In a July 17 verdict, the Planning Commission voted against a site plan that placed the house 15 feet from the sidewalk. Roger Thurman, vice chairman of the board for the Kent Wells Sherman House, Inc., said he revised the site plan to make room for more green space behind the building. The owner of the property, Arthur Properties Management LLC, did not have a representative at the meeting.

The tension in City Council Chambers was evident as a room full of supporters for both the Kent Wells Sherman House and Standing Rock Cultural Arts took the stand to give their opinions on the outcome of the site plan. Every seat in the room was filled.

Numerous speakers on behalf of Standing Rock spoke about the affect the green space has had on the city of Kent as well as the children who partake in cultural activities. Another point of contention was that the house would obstruct the view of Cherokee Artist Edwin George’s mural on the side of Scribbles Coffee Company.

Supporters of the “Save the Standing Rock Garden” movement were visibly upset by the commission’s ruling, and one woman stormed out of the room yelling, “I hope your children forgive you!”

Jeff Ingram, Standing Rock co-founder and executive director, was disappointed with the outcome but remained optimistic the lot could still be saved.

“I’ll continue to work for other spaces and hopefully one will open up that’s more cost effective and a better fit,” Ingram said. “I’m trying to persuade them that other locations are better.”

The decision came down to whether the site plan fell under the jurisdiction of permitted usage, which three of the five members of the Planning Commission decided it did.

“Our responsibility is so stated at looking at making a decision on the site plan as presented and the suggestions made by other bodies,” said Gregory Balbierz, a member of the Planning Commission.

Thurman said the commission’s decision was bittersweet.

“At least now we have a place for the house,” Thurman said. “It’s not going to be destroyed, it’s going to be saved.”

Contact Leighann McGivern at [email protected].