Tensions at Glendale rise as uncertain future of Eckstein school drags on

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GLENDALE, Ohio – Members of the Glendale community have reached a new level of frustration with the uncertain future of the beloved Eckstein School.

The owner of the building, once a separate school for black children, appeals to the village government to turn the property into a convalescent home.

However, that effort ran into a major problem this week when council delayed a planned vote on whether to grant the owner a conditional use permit needed to move forward with the project.

The delay was the result of outcry and various concerns expressed by residents attached to the building’s historic significance who rejected the proposal in a hearing Monday evening.

Denny Dellinger is the owner of the Eckstein School property and an architect based in Over-the-Rhine. He first pitched to Glendale officials his idea of ​​converting Eckstein into a convalescent home earlier this year. His previous efforts to reuse and, more recently, sell the building have been unsuccessful. As a result, he thought that converting to a convalescent home might be a viable solution to finally use the property.

“Much of the rest of the village, I think, would support the project,” Dellinger said.

But his idea had met with serious opposition during Monday night’s hearing.

“If you walk up and down our street, we have signs that say, ‘Save Eckstein School,’” said Brenda Daniels, a Glendale resident who lives on the same street as the school, Washington Avenue.

“It’s a village that prides itself on having a historic spirit,” said Libby Hamrick, another Glendale resident. “But I think what’s clear now is that it means white history, not black history.”

In addition to expressing their fury at the proposal to turn Eckstein into a convalescent home, residents have also blamed the stuck development of the property on the Glendale government. They tasked the village with letting the cherished historic building come to this fate after years of contentious battles for the property, as well as ideas launched to convert the space into a cultural arts center.

Bill Parrish is the Executive Director of the Eckstein Cultural Arts Center, a separate entity located on East Sharon Road. He has already waged his own unsuccessful fight to buy the property and tried to realize the idea of ​​converting the school into a cultural arts center for years.

He takes issue with the idea that Dellinger can do anything productive with the space now after not doing it in his two years of owning the building.

“I think this decision is obvious,” Parrish said. “There is nothing that has really been presented that preserves this story.”

Village administrator David Lumsden says it is not known when Glendale Village Council will vote on the issue. The item is on the agenda for the next meeting on August 30.

Raymond Terrell, 86, dated Eckstein in the 1940s.

“My memories of being an Eckstein student are very precious,” he said.

Terrell said the Eckstein School was not just a separate school. It was the center of black cultural life in Glendale. He feels that those in favor of transforming the school into a convalescent home are disconnected from the historic significance of the building.

“I think the major problem is that the new residents of Glendale who are white and say they are worried have no idea what history was there. And that was just as far as they were concerned, it was just an old building. And they have no reality of what it was and … what it meant to the African American community.

Dellinger doesn’t know what to do with the property if he doesn’t get the permit for his convalescent home project. But even if he is, he’s worried he won’t go very far with his plans.

“I don’t feel very welcome at Glendale anymore,” said Dellinger.

Time will reveal whether the school remains unused and dilapidated or whether it becomes a symbol of progress and recognition of the village’s black history.

Residents attached to Eckstein’s past as a haven for black education and community gatherings hope such an event will actualize last year’s national social calculation calls for racial fairness.

They say finding a way to commemorate and appropriately reuse the building will be a welcome change from how black history has been looked down upon and overlooked in the past.

Monique John covers gentrification for WCPO 9. She is part of our donor-supported journalism program Report For America. Learn more about RFA here.

If there are any stories about gentrification in the Greater Cincinnati area that you think we should cover, let us know. Send us your tips at [email protected]


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