ALLEN COUNTY — Residents throughout the city of Lima wonder what will happen with Memorial Hall. The building remains standing after being built more than 100 years ago.
The question from many is, what’s next?
In recent meetings, Allen County commissioners received inquiries about the future of Memorial Hall. Commissioner Cory Noonan weighed in on the facility.
“Back in the early 1980s,” said Noonan. “The community decided to build a new structure. We have a wonderful Veterans Memorial Civic Center. It was built to replace that structure. So I was told that Memorial Hall was supposed to come down. It was in the ‘80s so I was not a part of those conversations.”
The facility was closed in 2014 after an inspection determined the hall was not fit for occupancy. Although the building is not being used, Allen County commissioners focus on the basic preservation of the building until another use is found. Commissioners did complete roof repairs last year.
”The hardest thing I have ever had to do was go down there and have to close that facility down because there were tenants in that building,” said Noonan. “We were able to find county office space for them and Mr. Heaphy was able to provide space for the pantry. Since that day, the building has been closed. I was in there in the fall. It is still the same structure as the last time you were in there.”
According to Allen County Commissioner Beth Seibert and Fourth Ward Lima Council member Peggy Ehora, there are groups that have ideas for the facility. In 2022, Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman saved $1 million from the state budget for future renovations — just in case.
“We are told there is a group out there that is working on a plan,” said Seibert. “The knowledge of the small group working on a plan is what motivated Senator Huffman to appropriate $1 million dollars in the recent capital budget. It is a reimbursement-type grant and we didn’t use any of that money to fix the roof. We know that $1 million is 10% or less of what it would take to restore that building.”
Ehora said there have always been discussions from various groups on what to do with Memorial Hall.
“I do believe there is a group out there who has hope and believes it can find something to do with Memorial Hall,” said Ehora.
Although the future of the facility is in question, the history will remain.
According to a previous Lima News article, Memorial Hall was created for Civil War veterans in Lima. Allen County Commissioners passed a resolution in April of 1906 to build, furnish and maintain the facility to commemorate the service of soldiers, sailors, Marines and pioneers.
“As a kid, Memorial Hall was placed where we went to see the Lima Symphony Orchestra and things like that,” said Ohio Senate President Matt Huffman in August. “It was originally built as a memorial to the grand army of the republic the Civil War veterans. Just over 100 years ago, there was a big deal of dedication in the State of Ohio. Old buildings are harder to maintain than new buildings. I think the commissioners’ decision was because there were parts of it that were dangerous. I think the commissioners also made a good decision to put a new roof on it.”
Huffman said that Memorial Hall is significant to longtime residents of the community.
“If the commissioners, members of the public and Allen County the veterans group say here is what we can do, then I want to be prepared to do that,” added Huffman. “There has to be some use of it that is somewhat revenue generated. I don’t mean you have to make a pile of money off of it but we don’t want to go back and stick the county with permanent monthly data.”
Noonan concluded there are currently no definite plans.
Reach Precious Grundy at 567-242-0351.