Kent architect Hawksley revives Ravenna house

By Diane Smith | Staff Writer Published:

A Ravenna house that traces its history to the founder of the city is being restored to its former glory.

Rick Hawksley, an architect from Kent, is spending the summer restoring the home at the corner of North Chestnut Street and Highland Avenue. The 3,000-square-foot home, when restored, will house up to two apartments and at least one large office.

Hawksley said the land, part of the original tract of land sold to Benjamin Tappan, dates to the 1840s, and may date to the 1830s, based on the heavy, round beams in the home's foundation. When it was first constructed, the home had no indoor plumbing.

He said he's restoring the house in accordance with preservation guidelines. The house is not on the National Register of Historic Places but the "late Federal, Greek Revival with a Victorian porch" will qualify for the designation.

"It would qualify as a fine example of its style," he said.

He and Tim Ong, an architecture student at Kent State University, are spending the summer working on the house, and hope to have it available to rent in September.

For many years, it was the home of Dr. Earl Stevens, a local dentist and the last man of his profession not to use Novocaine. Beck Energy, which occupied the building for many years, left a mural behind on a downstairs wall.

Hawksley said he recently was visited by a nephew of the doctor, who told him that the original side door, which measures 7 feet 8 inches tall, was in a different place in the house. Hawksley recovered the large oak door during his work and plans to install it in the new side entrance. For now, a large board marks the place where the door was previously located.

The original dining room will serve as a lobby for the building. A set of "servants' stairs" off the door provides a secondary entrance to the upstairs apartment. The main entrance to the apartment is off the front door.

The business would have two large rooms and possibly, more downstairs space. Both rooms have marble fireplaces. Hawksley said the city has given him permission to put a second apartment on the first floor, but he's not sure he wants to. A room off the entrance will house laundry for one or two tenants.

"This is just classically beautiful," he said as he walked through the home.

The upstairs tenant, he said, will enjoy a "gorgeous view" of North Chestnut Street. He said the house is within walking distance of the Ravenna Post Office, the Downtown Ravenna Farmers Market, and the Portage Hike and Bike trailhead. It's also relatively close to Hiram College, Fortis College and Kent State University.

He noted that the house has undergone many changes through its more than 160 years of its history. In addition to the indoor plumbing, another key change was when the coal fireplaces were converted to gas.

"Houses like this evolve over the years," he said.

Contact this reporter at 330-298-1139 or dsmith@recordpub.com

Facebook: Diane Smith, Record-Courier

Twitter: @DianeSmith_RC

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  • Good for you Rick Hawksley. I hope it all works out for you.