By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — MEDINA — After years of behind-the-scenes work and planning for future projects, the first visual signs of historical renovation at Bent’s Hall are finally under way.
Matt CM Construction tore down the arched facade that has fronted the building’s first-floor storefront for decades Thursday, piling broken-off stone into a dumpster and un-earthing the 145-year-old building’s original cast iron support columns.
Members of the Orleans Renaissance Group, which owns the 1865 building, celebrated the next step in their revitalization effort at a roundtable meeting Wednesday.
”This sends a positive message to the community, they can finally see the visual manifestation of our efforts,” ORG Vice President Andrew Meier said.
Further interior demolition is planned this weekend in the northern storefront, with the removal of partitions that Meier said wouldn’t be needed by a new tenant. Future work will be done in the southern storefront, which will be renovated from it’s prior use as a bank office.
”This will help us get first-floor tenants,” ORG member Lynne Menz said.
”It would be hard to rent (in its current condition,” Meier added.
The physical action comes as the renaissance group’s financial efforts hit new highs. Grant writer Bridgette Yaxley noted Wednesday that GO ART! and the Grigg-Lewis Foundation have made contributions for the upcoming Anonymous Four concert, ORG’s major fundraiser for 2013.
More funding is being pursued from the Environmental Protection Fund and the National Endowment for the Humanities.
Another grant received in the last month, from the Bruce T. Williams Family Foundation, allows ORG to complete a visioning plan. Meier said that plan would be a “springboard” to the capital campaign needed to fix the former opera house’s roof.
It would include a sustainability plan for the building, detail how it fits into Medina’s future and make the case for renovation.Contact reporter Jim Krencik at 798-1400, ext. 6327.