Ohio University

OHIO administrators to share 'The Future History of The Ridges' on Nov. 15

Published: November 7, 2018 Author: Dan Pittman


University administrators and Ridges Master Plan co-chairs Shawna Bolin and Joe Shields will present “The Future History of The Ridges” at 6 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 15 at the Southeast Ohio History Center (SEOHC). The event is free and open to the public.

The presentation will serve as the sixth and final portion of the SEOHC’s speaker series surrounding the 150th anniversary of the Athens Asylum.

Guest speakers who participated in the series also included architect Robert Kirkbride, a descendent of Philadelphia physician Thomas Kirkbride, whose designs for mental asylums were used to build the Athens Asylum; Katherine Ziff, Ohio alumna and author of The Asylum on the Hill; former Athens Asylum employee George Eberts; director of the SEOHC Tom O’Grady; and author Mindy McGinnis, who utilized the Athens Asylum as the setting for her novel, A Madness So Discreet.

Honoring the Asylum’s past and looking to The Ridges’ future

For Bolin, Shields and Ohio University, this month’s speaker series appearance provides the opportunity to not only pay homage to the rich history of the Athens Asylum, but to share insight into key pivotal moments of the Asylum’s history that both shaped the property’s current character and set the stage for its next 150 years.

“In the early 1800’s, a community came together to advocate and fundraise for the asylum that was ultimately located in Athens; over the years, this same community has cherished, enjoyed, advocated and re-imagined the facilities and grounds that we celebrate today,” said Associate Vice President of University Planning Shawna Bolin. “As we look to the future of The Ridges, it’s clear that the same community passion and advocacy will remain essential to our ability to appreciate and benefit from this historic area during the next 150 years.”

The Athens Asylum: 150 Years of Healing Landscape

In addition to the 2018 Athens Asylum speaker series, the SEOHC, in collaboration with Asylum on the Hill author Katherine Ziff, is hosting an exhibit displaying numerous Asylum-related photographs, documents and artifacts at the History Center. The exhibit will remain on display through December 2018.

According to the SEOHC, visitors to the exhibit will experience “what it was like not only for patients who inhabited the buildings, but also the staff, medical teams, physicians and the many others who kept the institution running for 150 years.”

To learn more about the SEOHC’s one-of-a-kind Athens Asylum exhibit, visit: https://athenshistory.org/exhibits/.

Collaborations have provided the key to renovation, revitalization at The Ridges

Ohio University is proud of the collaborative Athens Asylum restoration and revitalization efforts that have taken place since the property, now referred to as The Ridges, was transferred to Ohio University more than two decades ago. Continued collaborations with members of the community will forever be central to achieving innovative solutions related to the future uses of the cherished Ridges property.

Many recent accomplishments and milestones* have shaped the University’s collaborations and investments at The Ridges, including:

  • The Ridges Framework Plan: Completed in 2015, The Ridges Framework Plan provides a comprehensive evaluation of The Ridges land and its buildings, studies for potential uses and adaptability, consideration of access and integration of The Ridges with the rest of OHIO's campus, financial strategies to realize potential and core principles that guide The Ridges’ planning development. Approximately 750,000 square feet of building space and 730 acres comprise The Ridges property, making the location ripe for possibilities to support the University’s academic mission and play a vital role in community life in Athens.
  • OHIO’s Comprehensive Master Plan: Approved by OHIO’s Board of Trustees in March 2016, OHIO’s Comprehensive Master Plan addresses all areas of the Athens Campus, including The Ridges. It incorporates elements of The Ridges Framework Plan and conceptualizes the area around the historic buildings as The Ridges Green. The Plan explores opportunities at The Ridges for academic synergies, executive education, conference spaces and other mixed uses. 
  • The Ridges Advisory Committee: OHIO regularly collaborates and consults with The Ridges Advisory Committee on items of impact and importance related to The Ridges. The committee, which is composed of members representing Ohio University, the City of Athens and Athens County, is also tasked with periodically reviewing the comprehensive land use plans for The Ridges and the University’s progress toward its implementation. The committee reports its recommendations to Ohio University’s president. The President then reviews the recommendations and presents it to the Ohio University Board of Trustees for its consideration and approval in the form of a formal resolution.
  • Renovations to The Ridges Buildings 13, 14 and 18: The design phase for renovations to Ridges Buildings 13, 14 and 18 began in Sept. 2018, with construction anticipated to officially begin March 2019. The renovated space will allow administrative offices currently located in the West Union Street Office Center and Human Resources Training Center to be repurposed to address critical academic needs. The project was endorsed by The Ridges Advisory Committee during its December 2017 meeting
  • Kirkbride buildings stabilization: The project, the first identified and implemented from The Ridges Framework Plan, provided roof/gutter replacements and building stabilization work to protect historic buildings from deterioration, allowing time for long-term uses and strategies to be identified.
  • The Ridges Observatory: The project resulted in construction of a campus observatory to support astronomy education and community outreach. The facility houses a historic 10-inch refractor telescope that was previously located on the roof of the Research and Technology Center (RTEC) building. 
  • Lin Hall HVAC and Roof: The project supplemented repairs to existing heating and cooling units with new equipment, including automated temperature and humidity controls to protect artwork stored within the building. A portion of the building, which had been utilized in the past as a milk parlor, was also renovated to provide additional artwork storage space. Repairs to the building’s roof, gutters and exterior stonework were completed as well.
  • Updates to Tier 1 Land Use at The Ridges: In Dec. 2017, The Ridges Advisory Committee unanimously moved to recommend that the Tier 1 land within The Ridges Framework Plan be identified as conservation land. Such a designation would mean that development would not occur within the Tier 1 area, with the possible exception of the immediate environs of the existing compost facility. The Framework Plan had originally identified the Tier 1 land as a candidate location for new housing development; however, concerns later expressed by members of the community resulted in a change and the new conservation designation.
  • Public-Private Partnership explorations: In January 2017, the University hosted an informational meeting structured to assist potential developers to understand the development opportunities outlined in the Ridges Framework Plan. It also provided the University a chance to gain an understanding of potential developer interest. Next steps include developing projects in consultation with The Ridges Advisory Committee and other stakeholders. 

*Note: Additional stabilization and improvement projects that have occurred at The Ridges are available on page 7 of The Ridges Framework Plan.