Riddle Block 9 Gets Historic Preservation Tax Credits
Enigma Block 9the historical monument in downtown Ravenna being restored to its former splendour, has received another source of fundingthis one from the state.
The building at 200 W. Main St. will receive $250,000 in Ohio Historic Preservation Tax Credits. Melissa Shelton, who owns the building with her husband, Doug, said the credits, which will be awarded over 5 years, can be applied to the entire $1.586 million renovation project.
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Riddle Block 9 is only the second project in Ravenna to benefit from historic tax credits. The first project was the nearby Phoenix Building.
The Sheltons purchased the 50,000 square foot building in 2020 and set about renovating all 20 apartments and commercial spaces. One of the apartments has been converted into Airbnb, which opened last year. A second, larger unit, which overlooks downtown Ravenna, should be complete and ready for Airbnb by fall, Shelton said.
Last year, the Ravenna project, along with projects in three other counties, was selected to share $446,327 in grants through the Paul Bruhn Historic Revitalization Grant, issued by the National Park Service through organizations from Main Street.
The latest tax credit, Shelton said, covers the entire project, including parts of the renovation not covered by the Paul Bruhn grant.
Henry W. Riddle built 11 Riddle blocks in Ravenna, 10 of which are still standing. Riddle Block 9 was built after a fire destroyed the previous structure, the Empire-Mertz Block, in March 1911.
In 2017, historian Jack Schafer led a tour of the downtown Riddle Buildings. Schafer called Riddle Block 9 “Henry’s crowning glory” and said it was the largest commercial building in downtown Ravenna. The building is one of four Riddle Blocks on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also listed on the National Register as part of the Downtown District
Riddle used some of his buildings for his horse-drawn carriage and hearse business, but many were used for retail and housing, including providing housing for his employees. Riddle Block 9 has apparently housed apartments throughout its history. Historic wooden signs bearing Riddle’s name are still posted on the third and fourth floors, telling tenants that they must pay their water and rent, and that they cannot own cats or dogs.
The top two floors of Riddle Block 9 each accommodate 10 apartments, a mix of two-bedroom units and efficiencies.
Shelton said the partition above and below the retail store windows was being removed to make the windows bigger. Tin ceiling tiles and wooden floors were exposed during the renovation.
An annex at the rear of the structure, where a toilet was planned, will have to be rebuilt.
“It’s kind of like when you cook a big meal,” she said. “You may make a big mess along the way, but in the end, it’s beautiful.”
Last month, the Sheltons were recognized with a Raven price of the Chamber of Commerce of the Region of Ravenna for the project.
Ryann Kuchenbecker, executive director of the Ravenna Chamber, said she was happy to see Riddle Block 9 benefiting from the tax credits.
“It’s one of the key buildings in our downtown area,” she said. “Every little gesture counts.”
Journalist Diane Smith can be reached at 330-298-1139 or [email protected]
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