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District sells houses: Once targeted for demolition, both chosen to be restored

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Bartholomew Consolidated School Corp. officials have sold two houses — one with historical ties — that they once intended to demolish for a Central Middle School parking lot.

School system attorney Charlie Wells shared details of the sales during a school board meeting Monday. He said later both houses will be restored by the purchasers.

Combined, the houses netted $154,000, which the school system will put in its general fund to pay for expenses including teacher salaries. Specifically, the house at 912 Fifth St. netted $94,500, and the smaller one at 918 Fifth St. netted $59,500.

The larger house was built and occupied by late industrialist Milton O. Reeves, co-founder of the Reeves Pulley Co., according to documents. It was the second house he owned and lived in at that location before his death in 1925.

“I love the fact that they’re going to be restored,” Superintendent John Quick said. “We think it’s good business to get those off of our responsibility so they can be used.”

St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, the owner before the school corporation, used the houses as a parsonage and Sunday school before selling them to the school system in 2005, Wells said.

The school system at that time expected to tear down the homes to build a parking lot for the new Central Middle School, which was being built across Chestnut Street. However, school officials decided a parking area was better suited on the school’s Seventh Street side.

In the end, school system officials sold the houses for at least $16,000 less than it paid for them, Quick said. But he said the loss wasn’t bad considering the properties’ condition declined a little in the meantime.

Also, Quick said the larger house was used for three years as substitutes for the normal construction trailers that would have made the construction at Central Middle School difficult on a cramped site. He said that the substitution saved a lot of money partly because of the "collaboration and synergy" of having all the players under one roof.

Timothy McNealy bought the larger house, and Russell Rental Properties LLC of Columbus bought the smaller one, Wells said.

Andy Russell, whose owns Russell Rental Properties, said he already has finished roofing and is working now to modernize the interior.

He said four Cummins employees will rent the home as a single-dwelling residence when their lease starts Jan. 1, after which they will have the option of splitting it into two apartments.

McNealy could not be reached for comment about his restoration plans. However, Wells said he understands that McNealy’s house will be used as a single-family residence.

Wells said selling the properties will save the school system money because it no longer will be responsible for maintenance and utilities. He said even after the school system put the homes on the market in the fall, it still had to “keep the lights on” to show the properties to prospective buyers.

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