Building that housed The Shack restaurant declared unfit for human habitation

East Pine St. structure, now owned by college, to be demolished

25 April, 2014 by John Hopkins

WOOSTER, Ohio – The building that for many years housed The Shack restaurant, on Pine St., near the College of Wooster's campus, has been declared "unfit for human habitation" by the City of Wooster. The college, whose purchase of the building closed last month, will demolish the structure this summer.

The college agreed to purchase the building from the Syrios family, original owners of the restaurant, almost two years ago, pending resolution of outstanding legal matters between the family and their tenants, who were then operating the restaurant. Those tenants moved out at the end of November, 2013, and the building has been vacant ever since. The college took possession when the sale closed in early March.

During the bitterly cold weather of early January, pipes burst in at least three locations on the second floor, sending water flooding throughout the building. The problem was not discovered for more than a week, by which point large sections of ceiling had caved in, floors had buckled, and walls and insulation were ruined. There were several inches of standing water in the basement.

After inspecting the damage, the City of Wooster's building department notified the college in late March that the structure, which was built in 1910, "has become so dilapidated and out of repair as to be dangerous, unsafe, insanitary, or otherwise unfit for human habitation or occupancy." They directed that it be repaired or demolished within 90 days.

"Making the building safe and habitable would cost several times what the building is worth," said Jackie Middleton, the college's associate vice president for facilities and auxiliaries. "Unfortunately the damage was so extensive that demolition is the only option."

Bill Syrios, who emigrated from Greece as a young man and settled in Wooster, opened The Shack in 1915 and for years it was a popular student gathering spot. Alumni from the 1940s through the 1960s still fondly recall sneaking out of chapel to smoke, drink coffee, and play bridge at The Shack. In more recent decades, the students drifted away. "It's not the same," Anna Syrios, one of Bill's three children, all of whom graduated from The College of Wooster, told Wooster magazine in 2006. "Things move on."

Demolition will occur this summer and the site will be turned into green space. A plaque will be installed to mark the restaurant's former location.