The weather was sunny and dry on Saturday for a free tour of Champaign County’s historic sites.
The Champaign County Historical Society (CCHS) hosted a local segment of the statewide event Sept. 8-16 called Ohio Open Doors, which was organized by the Ohio History Connection. Communities all over the state participated in the week-long event, opting to organize their local events on certain days of the stretch.
Ohio Open Doors was created in 2016 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act. Passed by Congress and signed into law in 1966, the National Historic Preservation Act made preserving historic, architectural and archaeological resources whenever possible a policy of the federal government.
Ohio continues to rank among our nation’s leading states in preserving historic places.
The CCHS museum at 809 East Lawn Avenue served as headquarters and host site of the event.
The CCHS offered an “after” event at the museum from 5-7 p.m. featuring Urbana native and renowned pianist and artist Scott Kirby. He combined a short multi-media program with his own live musical selections as people toured the museum. Kirby took musical requests from the audience and discussed his “Main Street Souvenirs” project.
During the past several years, Kirby has documented – through his artistic eye – the disappearing places and icons of the Great Plains and their Main Street areas. Kirby showed some of those images during Saturday’s presentation and also announced a new project to interpret his native Champaign County in a similar artistic effort. He plans to work on his Champaign County “Main Street” interpretation project during the next 12 months. On Saturday as the local historic sites were open and available, Kirby began collecting background information and inspiration for the project.
Kirby also made an unannounced visit to the Pony Wagon Museum in St. Paris on Saturday and played briefly for the volunteer docents and visitors to the day-long, free event. Kirby enlivened the St. Paris museum’s antique player piano and its antique organ, much to the surprise and delight of listeners.
In addition to the Urbana and St. Paris museums, other sites were open in the villages and in Urbana, as well as some in the rural corners of Champaign County, including:
-Honey Creek Cemetery, North Elm Street – one mile north of village
-Masonic Lodge – Marion Ross Museum, 203 N. Main St.
-1858 Meeting House (formerly 2nd Baptist Church), hosted by the Champaign County Preservation Alliance, 41 E. Sandusky St.
North Lewisburg (43060)
-North Lewisburg Library (formerly Friends Church), 161 Winder St.
-1830s Log Cabin (includes artifacts and North Lewisburg historical slide show), 197 W. Maple St. (home of Max and Janice Coates)
-Pottersburg Covered Bridge, 17141 Inskeep-Cratty Road
St. Paris (43072)
-Pony Wagon Museum, 315 S. Springfield St.
-Fire Station Training Center (original horse-drawn pump), 403 W. Main St.
-Gloria Theatre, 216 S. Main St.
-Masonic Temple, 222 N. Main St.
-Pennsylvania Rail Car NX-23, 644 Miami St. (behind historic depot)
-The Urbana Country Club (serving lunch and dinner to the public), 4761 East U.S. Route 36
-Johnson Maple Syrup and Log Cabin, 7044 Stevenson Road, Cable (visitors are asked to call in advance to 937-243-6203)
-Stevens Bakery and Orchard, 7344 Thackery Road, Terre Haute/Thackery area (open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.)
-Oak Dale Cemetery, state Route 54, Urbana (graves of Billy Clifford, Simon Kenton and the restored “Indian Hunter” sculpture by J.Q.A. Ward)
-Mt. Tabor Church Cemetery, state Route 245, Mingo
About Ohio Open Doors
The Ohio History Connection created Ohio Open Doors in 2016 to promote and inspire pride in Ohio’s heritage and to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act.
Signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Oct. 15, 1966, the Act has proven instrumental in transforming the face of communities from coast to coast, establishing the legal framework and incentives to preserve historic buildings, landscapes and archaeological sites. It drives economic revitalization by attracting investment, supporting small business, stabilizing neighborhoods and creating jobs.
The Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office administers the National Historic Preservation Act in Ohio. Many of the landmarks featured in Ohio Open Doors events are in the National Register of Historic Places, which the National Historic Preservation Act created.
“Ohio Open Doors shares stories of important landmarks right in our backyard, highlighting the history and unique nature of some of Ohio’s most treasured historic places,” said Burt Logan, executive director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection.
Brenda Burns can be reached at [email protected]