CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The public will soon be able to weigh in on the fate of the Gamble House.
The Livable Communities Committee voted to hold a public hearing concerning the house. Tuesday's vote is a long way from a final decision, but supporters are calling it a step in the right direction.
Council member Charlie Winburn spearheaded the effort to save the Gamble House.
"This is about Ivory soap," said Winburn during the meeting. "Ivory soap is also the vision of Westwood. I have a bar of Ivory soap for all of my colleagues here on City Council, and if you don't support this motion today, I want you to go home and wash with this Ivory soap."
The item was not listed on the agenda so the committee could not vote on the proposal. Instead, lawmakers voted to 1) look into whether eminent domain is a legal option to seize the historic mansion, deciding to first send the issue to the city solicitor to research it, and then 2) hold a public hearing.
"To get this kind of support, was really beyond my expectation," said Winburn. "The citizens of Westwood are going to have the opportunity to come out in numbers to share their concern about eminent domain as it relates to the Gamble House."
About a dozen people from the neighborhood activist group "Westwood Concern" attended the meeting. Supporters told FOX19 the vote was "inspirational"
"Using eminent domain for historic preservation does happen around the country," said Paul Muller of the Cincinnati Preservation Association. "It only happens around extremely significant cases. The James Gamble house is one of those."
The Gamble House has been under controversy since the current owners, the Greenacres Foundation, said they wanted to tear down the former home of P&G founder James Gamble to cut costs. Owners reportedly began removing items and dismantling parts of the house without a permit, but on Tuesday morning, a federal judge ordered the company to stop the work.
Now supporters hope Council holds the public hearing and moves forward before that work can begin again.
"As a realtor, I don't support eminent domain, but it works in this case because we're not demolishing, we're saving," said Reginald Goolsby, a Westwood resident who is working to save the Gamble House. "We're preserving. And that's what we need to do. As citizens, we cannot be witnesses. We cannot stand by and allow this travesty, this rape, that's been happening this past week, happen."