Future of historic Mid-Michigan house uncertain - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Future of historic Mid-Michigan house uncertain

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OWOSSO (WJRT) - (06/13/14) - Those concerned with preserving Owosso's history are frightened to hear a 150-year-old house has been condemned.

Baker College, which owns the house on Williams and Pine in Owosso, says it doesn't have the half million dollars needed to restore it.

The Lyon-Seigmiller House was built in 1861, during the Civil War. It was owned by Owosso benefactor George Hoddy, who used it for storage for almost 50 years.

The city of Owosso says either fix it up - or knock it down.

Hoddy died in 2008 and bequeathed it to Baker College of Owosso. While it doesn't look bad from the outside, the inside hasn't been touched in decades.

"Our estimate is about a half million dollars to renovate the house to make it livable," said Aaron Maike, incoming president of Baker College of Owosso.

That's money Baker says it doesn't have.

"If someone wanted to tear down this beautiful, unique historic property, there would be a fight beyond almost all imagination," said Shaffer Fox, historic preservationist.

Some wondered if Hoddy, in his will, required the house be preserved.

"There were no restrictions on this particular piece of property whatsoever," said Peter Karsten, outgoing president of Baker College of Owosso.

"The house has been condemned by the city," Maike said.

For now, city officials want the building to be secured to keep out intruders. Baker College wants to public to get involved in finding a use for the house and how to pay for it.

"Obviously, there are a lot of other options," Maike said.

"When you start to lose properties like this, you lost a lot of the character of your town and we don't want to lose that," said James Gutting, preservationist.

Although a city-issued deadline for a decision is approaching, Owosso Mayor Ben Frederick says he's willing to work with Baker College.

A statement released by Baker College regarding the house is below:

Baker College of Owosso requested a building assessment for the Lyon-Siegmiller home from the City of Owosso building inspector. Based on his assessment, the home was deemed uninhabitable. Aaron Maike, the incoming Baker College of Owosso president indicates, “the college is open to exploring partnerships to restore the home," while also noting that the home is in a significant state of disrepair internally and the tremendous renovations necessary would be cost prohibitive for the college at this time. Maike is encouraged by his conversation with Owosso Mayor Ben Frederick. Frederick indicated that the city is willing to work with Baker College and that he would like to see a plan developed for the future use of the home, noting that several in the community have already stepped forward with offers of assistance.
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