A South Lorain landmark went up for auction Oct. 13, but attracted no bidders.
The YMCA building, 1769 E. 28th St., also served for years as steel company offices.
More recently, it was a warehouse for the late George Schneider, the landlord who became known for his extensive portfolio of rental homes in Lorain.
The building sale is one of the final steps toward settling the estate of Schneider, who died in 2014, said attorney Zachary Simonoff.
The 1 p.m. auction drew four people, apparently more for curiosity than an actual purchase.
No one opened bidding at the minimum price of $30,000.
The building will remain for sale, with an online auction most likely the next step, said Simonoff and Warner L. McConaughey, real estate agent and auctioneer of OwnerLand Realty.
Simonoff said said he can’t close the estate until “we get this building gone.”
“I mean, I’m not going to burn it down,” he added with a laugh. “Hopefully, someone will see its potential.”
The four-story red brick building has sat on East 28th Street since opening in August 1925.
It was built to replace another Young Men’s Christian Association facility that dates from 1896, shortly after the earliest days of steel production began in South Lorain.
Local historian Dan Brady published an Aug. 29, 1925, page from the Lorain Times-Herald that outlined the history of the YMCA.
In 1925, the new brick and sandstone building was described as “modern in every detail,” with a gymnasium, bowling alley, swimming pool, billiard tables and locker room.
Later, it would serve as steel company offices as The Johnson Co., which became the National Tube Co., and eventually the Lorain Tubular Operations of United States Steel.
The building now sits closer to the Republic Steel side of the mill operations, and west of the U.S. Steel area on East 28th Street.
“I just came out for nostalgic purposes,” said Ken Krol, a Lorainite who spent 30 years at the mill, retiring as U.S. Steel’s plant engineer.
Krol worked another 20 years as a consultant for the company.
He recounted the days when steel production supported thousands of jobs in the city.
Life at the Y
Brady’s account included the recollection of his brother, Ken, who learned to swim at the Y during the 1960s.
Inside the building, the basement swimming pool still exists and resembles the swimming pool of Biltmore, “America’s Largest Home,” the estate of 19th-century business magnate George Vanderbilt in Asheville, N.C., said one man at the sale.
“It’s a rarity that you see a pool like that design,” he said, predicting just a few others like it may exist across northern Ohio.
They were among four men there for the bidding process that lasted just a few minutes.
A few other people came and went while McConaghey was there.
“Honestly, all it takes is the opening bid and it’s yours,” he said, but no one made an offer.
Inside, the building’s second floor was renovated to be a cafeteria for steel plant managers.
It still had some duct pieces, doors and building materials that Schneider stored there, but most of those items were sold last year, said McConaghey, who also operates Auction Advantage Ohio LLC and Creekside Auction Gallery in North Ridgeville.
It appeared everyone gathered agreed the building could be an anchor for continuing redevelopment in South Lorain.
But, it likely would be a labor of love for someone willing to invest a lot of money, including costs of searching for and removing possible lead-based paint and asbestos, McConaughey said.
“It does need a lot of work; this is a multi-million-dollar project,” he said. “I’ve had many investors make the statement that the cheapest part of this project is actually buying it.
“Definitely a neat old building.”
He added he was surprised at the lack of bids because there were inquiries about the site in the last few weeks.
The building eventually will be sold to close out the estate, McConaughey said.
Anyone interested in learning more can call McConaughey at 440-554-9853.