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Decision on Fire-Damaged St. Paul's Church Could Be Made By University of Akron Within Weeks

photo of St. Paul's Episcopal Church
The University of Akron has owned St. Paul's Episcopal Church since the 1950s. The portion on the right sustained most of the damage, with the fire being stopped in the walkway connecting to the building on the left.

Damage from the fire that engulfed the former St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Akron is still being evaluated. Officials say a decision on the historic building’s future won’t be made until that process is complete.

The church has been owned by the University of Akron since the 1950s, but has been empty for nearly a decade. The school’s CFO, Nathan Mortimer, says the building was actually constructed as two halves, connected by a walkway, and the main fire was only in one of the structures.

“We know the fire made it through the walkway, and we know the fire began to enter that other building. What we do know is that Akron Fire (Department) did excellent work keeping the fire from entering that building and knocked it down pretty quickly. Our assessment will tell us, but I have to believe – based on what I know -- that there’s probably some smoke damage in the adjoining building.”

Mortimer says the school briefly considered razing the church several years ago, but in recent years has been focused on how to preserve the building.

“We’re still assessing the condition of the building. The walls are up. The stone, old, gorgeous, iconic stone structure has a lot of legacy and history here at Akron, and so we’re not jumping to any conclusions. We’re going to let the assessment decide what actually needs to happen.”

He says a decision on the building’s future will likely happen before a new, permanent president is chosen. The University of Akron trustees say the search for a new president could take a year.