Pollock House occupied for first time since 1998

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To see photos of the finished Pollock House restoration, click here.

For the first time in more than a decade, there are people occupying the historical Pollock House on Wick Avenue.

New Youngstown State University president Randy Dunn and his wife, Ronda, moved into the 17,000-square foot mansion on Monday. Dunn officially takes over the presidency on July 15.

The university spent more than $4 million on the three-year project.

The house was built in 1893 and was designed by famed Youngstown architect Charles Owsley. Paul Wick gave it to his daughter, Mary Pollock, and her husband, Porter, as a wedding gift in 1897.

Several additions were made over the years, including a carriage house and a walled garden in 1930.The Pollock family lived in the home until 1950, when they gifted the estate to Youngstown College, which later became YSU.

The university used the property for classes, administrative offices and the ROTC program over the years. In 1987, the university leased the property to the Pollock Inn Restoration Association, which converted the home into a 66-room hotel known as the Wick Pollock Inn. The developers also renovated the carriage house and built a five-story, 47,000-square foot addition onto the eastern face of the house that was used for additional rooms, a ballroom, banquet facility and conference rooms.

However, the hotel was unable to survive once several major corporate clients, including Phar-Mor and Commercial Intertech, were acquired by out-of-town companies and no longer used the facility. The Wick Pollock Inn closed in November 1998 and full ownership of the property reverted back to YSU once all debts were settled.

John Hyden, executive director of YSU’s Facilities and Support Services, said the university tried unsuccessfully to find an operator for the hotel from the time it closed in 1998 through the tenure of former YSU president Dr. David Sweet.

“We had a few developers interested, including one that wanted to convert the house into a bed and breakfast, but nothing ever came though,” Hyden said.

The university also considered renovating the hotel into a bed and breakfast at one point, but the idea was scrapped after a feasibility study showed there was not enough demand to support it.

It was in 2010 when university officials decided to remove all remnants of the hotel and return the mansion to how it existed in the 1930s so they could convert the Pollock House into a home for the university president. Richard Feldmiller, senior project manager of planning and construction for YSU, said the hotel portion was “deconstructed” rather than demolished, meaning the hotel was dismantled and material was recycled whenever possible. He estimates the university sold scrap from the hotel for approximately $30,000, which was put back into the project.

“We wanted to do a historic restoration, but we ended up with an adaptive reuse. We had to put in replica windows because putting in original windows was too costly and they would not have been energy efficient,” Feldmiller said.

The renovation project was designed by Ron Faniro Architects and initial work focused on the outside to make the property weather-resistant so interior work could be done. Exterior restoration included correction of structural defects, conservation of art glass, repairs to wood siding, replacement of the natural slate roof and rebuilding of chimney forms with original brick.

Hyden said the Pollock House’s main level is the public area, which will be used for university purposes. This level, which is completely furnished, includes a dining room, office, a commercial kitchen, five bedrooms, a parlor room and a sitting room.

Hyden said the Dunns will use the second floor as their primary residence. A third floor was painted and carpeted and likely will be used for storage, he said.

Feldmiller said the project’s estimated cost was $4.47 million, which included advertising, architectural design, deconstruction and the renovation work itself.

“We came close to that,” Feldmiller said of the finished product.

He said actual construction took nearly a year and it was completed late last summer, but crews continued working on landscaping and putting the finishing touches on the home until this past spring. In addition to the house itself, the walled gardens also have been restored.

Since the property is owned by the university, it is tax exempt. In addition, all landscaping, maintenance and repairs will be handled by the university.

“The Pollock House is just like any other building on campus,” said Shannon Tirone, executive associate to the president.

In addition to the free home, Dunn’s three-year contract has a base salary of $375,000, which is fixed for the life of the contract. His contract also includes travel expenses and a vehicle.

Former president Dr. Cynthia Anderson lived in Liberty, and she was provided with a housing allowance as part of her contract, according to Hyden.

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