Buildings not only provide shelter, they harbor stories that can be meaningful, impacting lives in diverse ways. Ohio History Connection’s “Open Doors Ohio” Sept. 9-18 offers the opportunity to explore landmarks throughout the state including several sites in Darke County, and discover new insight and additional knowledge regarding these community treasures.
Garst Museum, Bear’s Mill, and the Bradford Railroad Museum are participants, and can be visited during their normal operating hours. Versailles Area Museum welcomed visitors to their facility on Sept. 11, and will host the annual Homecoming at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church this coming Sunday.
Today, visitors are invited to explore the Darke County Court House from 9 a.m. till 4 p.m. Greenville Union Cemetery is offering self-guided tours of those hallowed grounds from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. on Saturday, including a peek at the majestic Mausoleum. The first brick schoolhouse erected in Darke County will be open from 1 to 3 p.m. that same day; the Studabaker Schoolhouse on State Route 49 south of Greenville is managed by Fort Greene Ville chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.
Greenville Public Library is providing guided tours of their stately structure, and will be offering refreshments as well on Saturday from 12 till 2 p.m. During that same time period, Darke County for the Arts will give tours of the beautiful building standing right next to the Library, historic Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall, first opened to the public over a century ago and still serving the community today.
The National Preservation Act, signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson on Oct. 15, 1966, has been instrumental in preserving the historic fabric of our neighborhoods, establishing the framework and incentives necessary to save buildings, landscapes, and archaeology. Ohio History Connection (formerly the Ohio Historical Society) initiated “Open Doors Ohio” to celebrate the 50th anniversary of this law.
Highly successful wholesale grocer Henry St. Clair bequeathed $100,000 to the Greenville Board of Education “for the purpose of erecting a Memorial Hall for the use and betterment of the public schools in any manner in which said board may think most practicable and beneficial to the public.” That hall, begun in 1910 and completed in 1912 with $35,000 in additional funds provided by Henry’s widow Ella, has welcomed thousands of students enrolled in Greenville City Schools, as well as hosts of others who attend the performances, lectures, and events that occur there. The memories contained therein meaningfully connect St. Clair Memorial Hall to generations of local citizens, becoming a part of a far-flung heritage that reaches around the globe.
Henry and Ella’s legacy remains an integral part of Darke County lives today, helping to keep our community welcoming and vibrant. All who have entered Henry St. Clair Memorial Hall play a role in maintaining the building’s relevance as time passes and things change. Recognizing the true value of such places requires more than a monetary calculation; contributions made daily to countless lives result in warm memories and fond recollections plus much more. These priceless structures not only represent the past, but also serve the community in the present, enhancing the future for us all.
Marilyn Delk is a director of the Darke County Center for the Arts and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Viewpoints expressed in the article are the work of the author. The Daily Advocate does not endorse these viewpoints or the independent activities of the author.