Building also served as sheriff’s residence

Delaware County’s former jail and sheriff’s residence at 20 W. Central Ave. in Delaware has been sold to the Delaware County Historical Society.

Old Jail
Delaware County’s former jail and sheriff’s residence at 20 W. Central Ave. in Delaware has been sold to the Delaware County Historical Society [ Joshua Keeran | The Gazette]

The Delaware County Land Bank has agreed to sell the county’s old jail and sheriff’s residence at 20 W. Central Ave. in Delaware to the Delaware County Historical Society for $350,000.

The decision to sell to DCHS Save Old Jail LLC was approved following an executive session held during Wednesday’s Delaware County Land Reutilization Corporation meeting.

“The historical society is a natural use for that building,” said Delaware County Commissioner Gary Merrell once the meeting was reopened to the public and prior to the unanimous vote. “They’ll take care of the building, and it serves the interest of the taxpayers. I think it’s a win-win for everybody involved.”

Merrell also thanked the other potential buyers, saying it was a difficult decision.

“I just think this shows a lot about how the system works,” he said.

“From my perspective, it’s a great adaptive reuse of this historic resource within our community,” said Land Bank Secretary and Delaware Planning and Community Development Director Dave Efland.

Delaware County Facilities Director Jon Melvin was thanked for maintaining the building and conducting tours to prospective buyers.

“We received four really strong offers, and it was a very difficult decision,” said Land Bank Chairman and Delaware County Commissioner Jeff Benton. “The historical society presents a unique opportunity … getting it off the county’s rolls and back into a more productive use.”

Before the sale can be finalized, the Delaware County Board of Commissioners must sign off on the deal, Benton said.

In February 2018, commissioners authorized Melvin to publish a legal notice announcing the sale of the jail and former sheriff’s residence. By the end of the year, the commissioners had rejected significantly lower bids than what was ultimately accepted and placed the jail in the land bank.

According to the National Archives Catalog, the building was placed on the National Register of Historic Places on June 12, 1990.

The 0.45-acre lot includes 19 parking spaces.

In 2018, the building had housed the county’s law library and the office of the Ohio Fifth District Court of Appeals. They moved to the Delaware County Historic Courthouse upon its recent renovation.

“The Queen Anne-style building was constructed in 1878 at a cost of $25,845 and designed by architect David W. Gibbs of Toledo,” The Gazette previously wrote of the historic jail. “It was the third Delaware County jail constructed. The first jail was a 12-by-24 log cabin built in 1814, and a second jail was constructed in 1850.”

Also at the meeting, County Treasurer Don Rankey was appointed treasurer of the corporation. Benton updated members on the status of other properties, and he led a discussion on establishing a pricing policy for properties the county owns that are of little or no value.

According to a county presentation, “Land banks are public or community-owned entities created to acquire, manage, maintain and repurpose vacant, abandoned and foreclosed properties.”

Properties include those forfeited to the state, transferred from probate estates, or donated. Ideally, they are often already vacant with no private liens.

Land banks may transfer the properties to adjoining owners, the private sector or nonprofits. The may also convert the property into a park, playground or community garden.

“Ohio is (the) only state to provide consistent funding to land banks,” the presentation notes.

Ohio first allowed counties to organize land banks in 2010 and expanded the program in 2015. The Delaware County Land Bank was incorporated in January 2018. Under state law, its board of directors includes the county treasurer and at least two county commissioners.

History Library - Delaware County Historical Society - Delaware Ohio - Officers

The Board and Staff of the Delaware County Historical Society are so pleased to announce that we are in the process of taking ownership of the old Historic Jail. A benefactor has stepped forward to create an LLC to purchase the building and will be selling it to us on a land contract. We are so lucky to have an investor who believes in our mission of preservation as well as the county Land Bank who accepted the offer from the LLC. We are so appreciative of our County Commissioners who continue their legacy of support for our organization and understand how important it is to preserve such an iconic structure which is such an integral part of our history. We look for support from our community which includes donations, ideas, and encouragement. Stay tuned to learn of all the exciting plans we have for this beautiful building!
– Donna Meyer – DCHS Executive Director