PLSJC Director Alan Hall writes a weekly column discussing library and community news, history, and other interesting subjects.
This past week, the former gas station at 4th and Slack Streets was demolished, finishing the library’s plan for parking and green space around the Main Library building.
When I began as Director of the library system in 1983, the number 1 complaint voiced to me was that the parking at the Main Library was difficult, if not impossible.
I had experienced the problem in my first visit to the library.
It took time to achieve, and the purchase of 16 lots, but the Main Library now has ample parking in both off-street and street parking.
During that time, we also acquired many properties around the county for our branch libraries, and even constructed a brand new branch library to address the number 2 complaint in my first days, the lack of any library in the “West End.”
Each property we acquired had an interesting history.
While the North End of Steubenville had many fine homes of great architecture, the South End’s home were more standard in size, with the exception of some houses in the block north of the library.
Actually, the Main Library building was constructed on the site of an earlier 1840s house with a lot that extended through to 5th Street.
The opposite corner was the site of a small brick house, replaced by a huge mansion complete with a tower in the 1880s.
City Directories show a variety of owners and occupants over the years. In 1922, the Antonucci Family owned the huge house and constructed a neighborhood grocery store on the back of the lot.
Antonucci Brothers also owned businesses at 601-603 South Street, and according to the City Directory included a bakery, a grocery store, s foreign bank, and a saloon.
Two year later, the front yard of the mansion was cleared of walls and sidewalks and converted into a “filling station.”
The Standard Oil Co. station operated from 1924-1946, when the company purchased the site and had the mansion demolished for a new Sohio Station.
The Sohio Station was commonly called “Tuttle’s” due to the operator, and after passing to Pennzoil finally closed for the sale of gasoline in 1988.
The library system purchased the property in 2008 to complete the plan for parking and green space around the Main Library.
The 1946 gas station had the wash bay, two service bays and small office area, one of the thousands of Sohio Stations that graced Ohio over their 80-year lifespan.
I had hoped that we could renovate the station for Bookmobile and Outreach Services, to allow the Main Library’s garages to be removed making the building handicapped accessible, but the budget crunch has changed a lot of our long range planning.
Perhaps that plan can be accomplished another time using the newly-acquired space.
In the meantime, the redevelopment of 4th and Slack Streets is meant to be an attractive addition to the South End.