BELLEFONTAINE – Those who believe that one needs to know about the past to understand the present will find a wealth of knowledge at the Logan County History Center in Bellefontaine. Todd McCormick, curator/director, provided a recent tour of the center, and his love of area history was obvious as he discussed the various aspects of the History Center and its buildings, which consist of the Orr Mansion, Logan County Museum and The Transportation Museum.
Wander through the elegant Orr Mansion and catch a glimpse of how an upper middle class family lived. The family home of lumberman William Orr, who considered it his “Dream Home,” was built between 1906 and 1908. The first floor rooms were for entertaining. The kitchen, originally in the basement was moved upstairs. The second floor held bedrooms and an office. The third floor included the grand ballroom.
A former owner, Thomas Latham, bought the home in 1910. Additions were built in 1961, 1963 and 1965 and used for the Latham Nursing Home Business. The Lathams moved out in the late 1970s and the building sat empty until purchased by The Logan County Historical Society in 1988 for $50,000. It was remodeled and opened to the public in 1989.
Logan County Museum
Another building on the property is the Logan County Museum, located in the old nursing home rooms. Step back in time and look at different themes: Doctor’s office, toy room, agriculture, Native American, military, Underground Railroad, communications, schoolhouse, general store, Indian Lake room, household, Logan County Business and Industry. There are special exhibits through the year. Staffers are working on new themes and planning a West Liberty room.
The Transportation Museum was added in April of 2014 and is designed like a railroad roundhouse. Exhibits include a covered wagon. Plans are for the railroad exhibit to include a caboose. There is information about A.J. Miller, manufacturer of carriages, then later of ambulances and hearses. A rotating exhibit holds a 1921 Howe Fire Truck from The West Liberty Fire Department. The Modern Transportation area includes information about an area business that makes parts and vehicles and about the TRC company in East Liberty, which performs safety tests on vehicles.
Look up in the entryway to see a replica of Bellefontaine native Clarence Wissler’s 1920s Pusher Monoplane. Restoration was started in the 1980s by the Historical Aviation Organization of Logan County. When it disbanded, the plane was donated to the Logan County History Center. Other features are the square of bricks from the original Bellefontaine roundhouse and the time capsule hidden until April 27, 2114, the 100th anniversary of the Transportation Museum.
In the connector, a room is dedicated to Honda of America’s Logan County operations and includes displays of motorcycles made at the Marysville plant. There also are exhibits of Logan County’s “oldest,” “highest” and “shortest.”
There is more on the second floor for history enthusiasts. The Historical Society Archive allows visitors to research places and things in Logan County. The number for more information is 937-593-7811.
The Acusport Meeting Room is available for meetings and seats 50. Call 937-593-7557 for rental fees and building use. If interested in searching your family tree, then the Genealogical Society Library is the place to be. It is open 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays, Fridays and Sundays.
The History Center also has a gift shop.
The center is located at 521 E. Columbus in Bellefontaine and is open 1-4 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. Admission is by donation.
For more information on the Logan County History Center, including volunteer opportunities, call 937-593-7557, email [email protected] and visit loganhistory.org.
Tami Wenger is a regular contributor to this newspaper.