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Landmark will be saved

Montgomery developer to restore tavern

BY WALT SCHAEFER
The Cincinnati Enquirer

MONTGOMERY — City council has approved Ireland-May Ltd. as preferred developers to restore the historic Sage Tavern building on Montgomery Road.

The building, in the heart of the downtown district, was constructed about 1820 as a coach stop, and legend has it Charles Dickens may have stayed overnight.

Council selected Ireland-May Ltd. over two other proposals, said Kathleen Buckley, the city's community development director.

Ireland-May is owned by Patti May, a member of the city's Landmarks Commission, and her son, Dan.

The city bought the Sage Tavern building and three adjoining properties for about $430,000 in 1996. The tavern was named for Mary and John Sage, who ran it in the late 1800s.

“Our goal was to get involved and save the Sage Tavern building and restore it as closely as possible to its original appearance,” Mr. May said. “We know this is one of the city's most historic buildings, and we want to return the exterior to what it was like more than 100 years ago. We want to spend time on detail inside as well as outside.”

Mr. May said he could not hazard a guess on cost of restoration except “it will be in six figures.”

Ms. Buckley said the city will retain ownership of the two-story frame building until final plans are submitted by Ireland-May and approved by the Landmarks Commission — which identifies, designates and oversees historic sites within the city — along with the planning commission and city council.

Mr. May said he expects to submit plans in June and begin restoration work in mid- to late summer.

Ireland-May has done other restoration work in Montgomery and has developed two small areas with new homes in historic or vintage style in the city to complement surrounding homes.

Ireland-May restored the Arlingstall-May House on West Street in the city's historic district last year. The house, built in 1901, sits on part of the community's second annexation of land called Hayden's Addition. It occurred in 1804 during the town's infancy.

Mr. May said his family has done restorations in New York and South Carolina.

Included in the Ireland-May proposal are the tavern building, an open lot to its rear, and a single-story addition to the north that housed the former Barton's Bakery.

Plans call for the first-floor areas to house upscale retail stores, with business offices for those enterprises on the second floor.

The bakery addition will either be restored or replaced with another building, using period architecture. The vacant lot to the rear likely will be developed with a new building in period style to complement the tavern, Mr. May said.

An earlier agreement with Michael E. Remenyi, owner of Remenyi's House of Music in Toronto, to develop the tavern into a music store could not be finalized. Mr. Remenyi had expressed reservations about locating in the old tavern building — primarily stemming from restoration cost estimates.