Scott House under repair


One of Hillsboro’s most recognizable historic landmarks, the Scott House, is undergoing repairs in hopes that it can serve the community for many years to come.

The repairs are being made thanks to $110,000 the Highland County Historical Society, which owns the building, received through Ohio’s 2017 Capital Budget Bill.

“We’re trying to get it to a point where we don’t have unexpected expenses that blow our budget and we can maintain a high quality business office building while also preserving it,” said John Kellis, a trustee with the historical society. “If we can get four spaces rented we think we can maintain the building without it being a burden on the society’s budget.”

A couple years ago the historical society initiated a capital campaign to raise funds to repair the Highland House Museum, which serves as the society’s headquarters, and the Scott House. But almost all that money was used for repairs to the Highland House, including replacing a large portion of its back wall.

So the society went looking for funds elsewhere, and with help from local legislators, found them through state capital funds that Kellis said are used for restoring historic structures and infrastructure around the state. Through those same funds, Highland County also received $200,000 for a pedestrian walkway connecting uptown Hillsboro with Southern State Community College and $150,000 in assistance for KAMP Dovetail.

Repairs needed on the Scott House are many, but the society decided to first install a new HVAC system. It is also in the process of having the building’s exterior trim repaired or replaced; repairing, replacing and painting all the shutters; installing new vintage-looking lighting with modern capabilities; repairing the handicap accessible ramp and porch at the back of the house; making repairs to the cupola; making the second floor suitable for two office spaces; and repairing some of the wrought iron fence in front of the house; has redone the east patio; relocated where the downspouts drain to make sure surface water doesn’t get in the basement; repaired the exterior entrance to the basement; made repairs to the outbuilding behind the house; and more.

Much of trim that needs replaced is being fabricated because dimensions of lumber today do not match lumber dimensions from the 1800s when the house was constructed.

“The main point is to make people aware that this space is open for events and that the community can use it,” said Justin Harsha, who manages the Scott House for the historical society trustees.

To that end the society is sprucing up the kitchen and plans to install a new stove, dishwasher, refrigerator, microwave oven and cabinets. The public can rent the kitchen, a large meeting room, the foyer, and the grounds for meetings, bridal showers, or any other reasonable use.

But what the society really needs is someone to rent office space in the building.

The Scott House has space for two offices on the first floor, and possibly three (the Highland County Chamber of Commerce currently occupies one), two offices on the second floor, and a third floor that has never really been utilized. Kellis said some have suggested that since it has a sky light, it would be a nice setting for artisans.

Located on the former site of Hillsboro’s high school and middle school before they moved to a new location on the south edge of the city in 2009, the Scott House was completed in 1844. It had been owned by the Hillsboro City Schools since about 1941. Over the years it twice served as home to the school district’s administrative offices, most recently for 14 years until the school district moved its administrative offices to the more accessible Fawley Building on its former campus in 2011. It served as a public library from 1947 to 1970, and some claim it was once a stop on the Underground Railroad.

The Hillsboro schools transferred the title to the historical society in 2013.

“I’m excited because now, for the first time, we have a good ongoing plan to repair the house, preserve it, and make it a useful office building for the uptown area,” Kellis said.

Anyone interested in renting space in the Scott House can call Harsha at 937-763-7633.

Reach Jeff Gilliland at 937-402-2522 or

Workers with Precision Painting and Remodeling fabricate wood Wednesday for repairs to the historic Scott House on West Main Street in Hillsboro. with Precision Painting and Remodeling fabricate wood Wednesday for repairs to the historic Scott House on West Main Street in Hillsboro.
Historical society hopes to rent facility for offices, community events

By Jeff Gilliland

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