Long-awaited demolition coming to Fout Hall this summer on Omega Baptist campus

Fout Hall on the Omega Baptist Harvard campus is going to be demolished this summer, eliminating a large, blighted building from a property that has become a community anchor for northwest Dayton.

Fout Hall is one of three buildings remaining from the former United Theological Seminary (UTS) campus, located along Harvard Boulevard in the Dayton View Triangle neighborhood.

Omega has thoroughly transformed the UTS campus since acquiring it nearly two decades ago with investments like the Hope Center for Families, Omega Senior Lofts and a new high-quality playground and soccer field.

“The hope for this campus is to really be a haven and a gathering place for the community,” said Rev. Joshua Ward, senior pastor of Omega Baptist Church.

A demolition kick-off event for Fout Hall will take place Wednesday morning, June 12.

Remediation work has already started on the building and demolition should be done within a couple of months, said William Allen, business manager of Omega Baptist Church.

The 60,000-square-foot building that once served as a residence hall and administrative offices is in rough shape and has not been used in at least a couple of decades. The remediation and demolition work is expected to cost about $595,000, and the Montgomery County Land Bank is in charge of project management.

Omega Baptist Church explored rehabbing Fout Hall when the church purchased the 30-acre campus from UTS in 2005. But the building had some serious issues and renovation would have been very expensive.

Omega leaders have talked about tearing down Fout Hall for a decade and a half or longer.

Omega Baptist Church already has demolished several aging and decaying UTS buildings, including a library and Bonebrake Hall. That demolition work occurred about a decade ago.

More recently, Roberts Hall was leveled to clear the way for the Omega Senior Lofts, which opened several years ago.

UTS decided to depart the Harvard Boulevard campus because its buildings were aging and needed millions of dollars in maintenance and repairs.

Omega Baptist does not have immediate plans for the Fout Hall site after the residence hall is removed.

But Omega is doing planning work for its campus. Omega is working with a landscape architect and is considering ways to restore and renew some of the campus landscape, Allen said.

“Times have changed and we want to align our efforts with where we are in 2024,” he said.

The UTS campus was designed by Frederick Law Olmsted, the landscape architect behind New York City’s Central Park.

Rev. Ward said Omega wants to maintain and enhance the beauty of its campus, especially the greenspaces.

“We want to be really intentional on how we make any further changes,” he said. “Depending on where we come out with that landscaping architecture design, there may be some additional upgrades and improvements coming in the semi-near future.”

Omega has tried to redevelop the former UTS campus based on the needs of the community, Ward said.

The Hope Center for Families offers a variety of services focused on helping people develop life skills, work skills and other qualities that can help reduce generational poverty. The center houses Mini University, Sinclair College, Omega CDC and Dayton Children’s. The campus provides learning opportunities and other services for kids, plus affordable apartments for seniors so they can age in place.

The campus added an accessible, state-of-the-art playground and soccer field last year and a new community garden is in the works.

The Omega campus still has a couple other buildings leftover from UTS: A chapel and a former power station.

Omega plans to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars renovating the chapel building, which will be used as offices and meeting spaces. The chapel also is used by local churches.

The power station building is being used as a garage and storage space.

Ward said the campus has transformed and thrived because of partnerships with groups like the city of Dayton, Montgomery County, the neighborhood, Omega’s congregation and other stakeholders. Omega Baptist Church and Omega CDC work closely together.

“We want (our campus) to be a place of joy for the community,” Ward said. “We want it to be a community center, a community haven, not just for our congregation ... but for our neighbors as well.”

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