University of Akron accepts bid for sale of St. Paul’s church property

University of Akron accepts bid for sale of St. Paul’s church property

University of Akron accepts bid for sale of St. Paul’s church property

A historic church property that has been vacant since 2006 and was damaged in a fire three years ago may finally get new life as a center for emerging technologies.

It would be a tribute to the inventor who commissioned the original building’s design, as well as the architect who designed it, said developer Tony Troppe, who submitted a winning bid to purchase the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church from the University of Akron.

“We recognize the need to be good stewards of the past so we can incite new energy for the location in the future,” Troppe said. “We are considering several ideas for adaptive reuse of the property so that we can make the structure relevant for a whole new generation of knowledge workers.”

The University of Akron announced Wednesday that it has accepted a bid to purchase the property, consisting of two buildings at 354 E. Market St. on the north side of the campus. The university said Troppe’s bid was $100,001.99, while the other bidder, Progress Through Preservation Inc., submitted what the organization called “a nominal bid” of $3,500.

Developer Tony Troppe works the phone next to a construction area in Akron on May 21.

Progress Through Preservation is a nonprofit organization that promotes and encourages the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings in Summit County. The group has fought to ensure the St. Paul’s property did not fall victim to demolition. Representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

The church was built in 1885 at an East Market Street lot that was later to become part of Akron’s Millionaire’s Row. A second building was built in 1907. The University of Akron purchased the property in 1952 and dedicated it as the Firestone Conservatory of Music. The property become the university’s Ballet Center in 1976, which moved 30 years later to another part of campus. The buildings have since been vacant, and the 1885 building was struck by fire in 2018.

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St. Paul's Episcopal Church opened in 1885 on a triangular lot bounded by East Market, South Forge and Fir streets in Akron.

Honoring innovation

Troppe says he intends to preserve the two buildings out of appreciation for their historical significance to the Greater Akron community, giving special credit to the industrialist who commissioned their design.

“That would be Lewis Miller – it would be appropriate to be creating the Lewis Miller Center for New Technology,” he said.

Miller is credited by the National Inventors Hall of Fame for his invention of the Buckeye Mower and Reaper, the prototype for the modern mower. He co-founded the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York, in 1874.