Marianna- For many years, the Russ House has been a historic landmark in Marianna.
"The battle of Marianna started right here at the Russ House property" TDC Director, Pam Fuqua said recounting the history of the home.
12 years ago, the Jackson County Chamber of Commerce bought the home to use as for their administrative offices. But, staying in the home was no longer a feasible option. Several months ago, the chamber offered to sell the Russ House to the Jackson Tourist Development Council.
"The chamber made a very low offer" Chamber of Commerce President, Art Kimbrough said. "It was way below the market value, basically just to recover some of the costs that we put into it. So that, as Chamber Chairman Gilmore says, 'we could keep it in the family of the community.'"
Tuesday morning the TDC went to the county commission to get approval for the deal.
The asking price for the Russ House was $235,000. The TDC also requested $150,00 to repair the porch and repaint the exterior. But, Jackson County Commissioner, Jeremy Branch said he though approving the repairs would be the beginning of a long list of future repairs needed to maintain the historic home.
"It's a very important building in our community. It's an icon of Marianna and we recognize that" Branch said. "We certainly wish the best for the Russ House. But, as stewards of the county's tax dollars, the board felt today that it was not in the best interest of Jackson County to take on such a huge financial burden."
The commission voted unanimously against the deal.
"I'm really disappointed" Fuqua told us, "but I certainly understand. It's just something we'll have to accept and move forward."
But what's next for the Russ House? "If another non profit does not emerge that could keep it in the public sector, then we will obviously be offering it in the private sector" Kimbrough said.
TDC officials told us they would begin searching for another location, that was visible and easy for tourists to visit.