The East Liberty Schoolhouse has a new owner.
Richard Edwards, 61, was the only bidder for the 1890 schoolhouse during an auction Thursday by Kiko Auctions.
Edwards has lived in the city for over 20 years and said he can’t believe he got the building off Arlington Road and state Route 619 for $82,500.
“I’m crazy excited,” Edwards said. “It honestly hasn’t hit me yet.”
The schoolhouse, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, has been vacant for some time. Originally, the building was on state Route 619, but the city spent over $250,000 in 2015 to move it to make way for a Circle K gas station.
Following the move, the city had hoped to find a buyer for the property, but never found one.
In 2017, City Council transferred ownership to the Community Improvement Corporation in hopes the CIC would have more flexibility finding an owner.
Edwards, a carpenter, is no stranger to historic buildings. He remodels old buildings and houses for a living. He said the majority of the work he has done is in Akron’s Highland Square neighborhood.
Edwards and his wife have 10 kids, so he said he will have some helpers once he begins restoration. His son Everett, who is 22, will play a large role in helping him.
Edwards wants to start as soon as possible on the outside once the weather improves by working on the windows and making a nicer entrance. He wants to add heating, lighting and return the floor to being wood.
“I want to do a project that is good for the community because they have been so good to my family,” Edwards said.
Edwards is still brainstorming how the space will be utilized. His ideas include a furniture store, a place to teach wood-working or even a retail shop.
Edwards estimates it could take a few years to complete the renovations.
“I would rather take longer and do it right,” Edwards said.
He realizes the city spent taxpayer money to move the schoolhouse and wants there to be a return for the community.
Green Planning Director Wayne Wiethe said it sounds like Edwards has a good plan for the building and the skills to renovate.
“We want to see it renovated and utilized,” Wiethe said.
This story was also published in The Suburbanite. www.thesuburbanite.com