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A historic church property, vacant since 2006 and damaged by fire three years ago, may finally come back to life as a center of emerging technologies.

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

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

Akron University said on Wednesday it had accepted an offer 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 is working the phone next to a construction area in Akron on May 21.

Progress Through Preservation is a non-profit organization that promotes and encourages the preservation and adaptive reuse of historic buildings in Summit County. The group fought to keep the St. Paul’s property from being demolished. Representatives could not be reached immediately for comment.

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

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

Innovation in the spotlight

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

“It would be Lewis Miller – it would be appropriate to create 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 of the modern mower. He co-founded the Chautauqua Institution, in Chautauqua, New York, in 1874.