Austin Manor, located at 95 Elizabeth St. in Delaware, was built in 1923 in response to the influx of women enrolling at Ohio Wesleyan University following World War I. Originally know as Austin Hall, the building was used all the way up until 1984, when the building ceased to be dedicated student housing, marking the end of its value for the school. Last week, the school finally parted ways with the building for good, selling the prop
erty to a private investment firm out of Columbus for $1.5 million.
In a release from Vice President of Finance, Administration and Treasurer Lauri Strimkovsky, she said RiverWest, the purchasing company, will renovate the building and will continue to use the Austin Manor name for the time being. She added RiverWest has expressed interest in continuing to use the property as a rental community.
The building was added to the National Register of Historical Spaces in 1985. Facing demolition, then-OWU President David Warren was able to get approval from trustees to turn the 150-room dormitory into apartments. Renovations to the building were last done in 1988, when the building reopened as Austin Manor, an “intergenerational” living facility for current students, alumni and retired faculty. The building offers 60 studio, one- and two-bedroom apartments. The 2016-17 school year was the last year OWU offered the building as an on-campus residential housing option.
“It wasn’t an easy decision. But we have been focusing on renovating and adding new student housing in the heart of our residential campus,” said Cole Hatcher, director of media and community relations at OWU. “Beginning in 2011, this effort has included the complete restoration of Stuyvesant Hall, construction of three new Small Living Unit duplexes on Rowland Avenue, construction of a new 27-bed honors house on Oak Hill Avenue, and (ongoing) construction of the new Butler A. Jones House of Black Culture, also on Oak Hill.”
Asked if other alternatives were considered for the building, Hatcher said, yes, but that outside investment and renovation was the best option moving forward. He said it is too soon to say exactly what the money will be used for, but added he expects the board of trustees to discuss the matter during its October meeting.
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