9 factory street

This is a picture of 9 Factory St. from earlier this year. Photo by Terry Smith.

The building at 9 Factory St. in Athens has a storied past, and that legacy will be preserved as part of the new Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine building that will be constructed on that site, according to a news release from Ohio University.

When community interest in preserving the building did not materialize, the release said, architects and designers for the new medical education building began their own plans to preserve as much of 9 Factory St. as possible.

Existing building brick will be salvaged and reused as part of a new café in the Heritage College, tentatively named Factory Street Café, the release said. Photographs of the chalk art and signatures on the second-floor bricks walls will be displayed in the café. OU Facilities Management & Safety already has salvaged doors and other materials.

“We’re focusing on iconic aspects of the Factory Street building, and repurposing materials where it makes sense to capture that building’s character as part of the new construction,” Ken Johnson, D.O., executive dean of the Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine, said in the release. “We have found some beautiful and creative ways to honor 9 Factory St. in the new facility’s café,” added Johnson, who also serves as OU’s chief medical affairs officer.

The site and adjacent vacant space will become part of OU’s new Union Street Green, which was included in the Comprehensive Master Plan passed by the university’s Board of Trustees in March 2016. Construction on the Green’s anchor, the Heritage College building, begins this summer, and the building is expected to be complete in spring 2021.

As part of the master-planning process, the release said, OU explained its intentions for the new green on West Union Street, “repositioning the existing departments there to maximize the land, and position academic units to build closer relationships between academic units and surrounding business partners, such as OhioHealth.”

Most of OU’s Athens Campus is either on the core historic College Green or in the flood plain. The Union Street Green property is outside the flood plain, with several building site opportunities that don’t require major relocation of existing units, creating overall cost efficiencies, according to the release.

OU made the 9 Factory Street building available to the community for possible relocation in spring 2018. After meeting with the city of Athens and the Southeast Ohio History Center to discuss alternatives, the release said, the university issued a request for proposals listing ways in which OU would help with relocation of the historic building. The university already planned to disconnect all utilities from the building and was prepared to provide up to $60,000 toward relocation and to facilitate coordination with the city of Athens. No bids were received, according to the release.

“We are looking forward to seeding a new green for our campus that will provide academically enriched experiences that will benefit our community for years to come,” Associate Vice President for University Planning Shawna Bolin said said in the release.

According to Athens County Auditor’s records, 9 Factory Street was constructed in 1916. It originally housed the Moler Feed and Poultry Company, and in 1926, the Luster Fought Company moved into the building, according to an Athens Messenger article published that year.

The Fought Company manufactured flavoring extracts, family drugs and toilet articles; served as a confectionary wholesaler; and packed teas, spices and grocers drugs, the article said. It later housed the Factory Street Dance Studio, a tool-rental shop and other businesses before being purchased by Ohio University in 1991.

The building was renovated in 2002 and again in 2007 to accommodate a variety of office uses. Demolition of the building is projected to begin in mid-June.

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