MECHANICSBURG – Just another building in the landscape of Mechanicsburg, many people walk and drive past the Historic 1858 Meeting House and don’t think twice.
The Champaign County Preservation Alliance (CCPA) is working hard to change that.
The African-American-based Second Baptist Church existed at 43 Sandusky St., in Mechanicsburg from 1894 through 2002. In fact, it not only existed, it thrived; in 1895 the Baptist Association of Ohio organized a Baptist State Convention and it was held at the church in 1896. Through the faithfulness of loyal church members, the mortgage was paid off in 1912.
Through 100 plus years, the Second Baptist Church served as an important part of the Mechanicsburg and surrounding communities, providing a spiritual home and dedication to its members. As the congregation began to age, and membership declined, many church leaders were concerned about the future of the church, the building is the oldest church in Mechanicsburg and listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
That’s when the CCPA’s help came in, the ownership of the building was transferred to the CCPA in 2002 and it has become a labor of love for many members of the CCPA, past and present, ever since.
Recently, the CCPA applied for and was granted a prestigious grant opportunity from the National Society Daughters of the American Revolution (NSDAR or DAR).
The total awarded grant dollars are $9,714. It is a matching grant being put toward the removal, rebuilding, and reinstallation of several windows at the Historic 1858 Meeting House. The grant funding period runs from July 1, 2022 through June 30, 2023.
Established in 1890, the NSDAR was founded by patriotic women, who were excluded from men’s organizations, to commemorate the memory of ancestors who fought to make the United States free and independent.
According to the NSDAR website (https://www.dar.org/national-society/about-dar/dar-history) DAR has maintained its original objectives set forth in 1890, “Those objectives are: Historical – to perpetuate the memory and spirit of the men and women who achieved American Independence; Educational – to carry out the injunction of Washington in his farewell address to the American people, “to promote, as an object of primary importance, institutions for the general diffusion of knowledge, thus developing an enlightened public opinion…”; and Patriotic – to cherish, maintain, and extend the institutions of American freedom, to foster true patriotism and love of country, and to aid in securing for mankind all the blessings of liberty.”
With the help of the DAR Historic Preservation Grant, it is the CCPA’s hope that the 1858 Meeting House will be able to “live” another 163 years to serve as a cultural, social, and entertainment venue. The CCPA will be repairing the original sanctuary windows, many of the windows have seen 100 years or more of weather — driving rain, relentless sun, and freezing snow — much of the wood has seen extensive damage and many windows are no longer sealed. A project like the repair and restoration of these windows will demonstrate that an older structure can be an asset to the community in addition to retaining its historical significance.
In the vein of the DAR objectives, the Historic 1858 Meeting House is able to provide the history of many men and women who have walked in Mechanicsburg and who have helped others, it is able to educate the town’s families. It is able to serve as a formal (and informal) meeting space for many different types of events— weddings, meetings, reunions, concerts, homeschooling classes— just as it had in many ways since 1858.
As part of the grant and renovation process, the CCPA will be providing updates along the way during the window restoration via our social media (Instagram, Facebook) and press releases. Upon the completion of the windows, a celebration is planned to occur at the Historic 1858 Meeting House.
The CCPA is fortunate to have support from the DAR as well as many people and businesses in Champaign County and looks forward to showing supporters and visitors that it is possible to live, work, and play in preserved historical spaces.
If you wish to learn more about the Historic 1858 Meeting House, or to donate to the preservation of this building, please visit: https://www.ccpapreserveohio.org/1858- meeting-house.html. For additional information about DAR, use this link to their website: https://www.dar.org/.
If you’d like to become a member of the CCPA, learn more about other CCPA events, or would like to donate in kind, please visit this website to learn more: https://www.ccpapreserveohio.org/.
Info from CCPA