Local landmarks honored

FIRSTS are nothing new for the National Road and the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum in nearby Tuscarawas County, but they achieved another in a line of firsts during Ohio’s recent Statehood Day observance.

The John & Annie Glenn Museum Foundation, which operates the National Road/Zane Grey Museum in Muskingum County, and the Dennison facility are among the 11 first-ever History Fund recipients in the Buckeye State.

Four recipients were awarded $15,000 each, including the Dennison museum, which is Tuscarawas County’s first National Historic Landmark.

It’s no secret that the National Road, sometimes called the Main Street of America, is the nation’s first interstate highway, and its history is emphasized in the museum at Norwich near Zanesville.

The History Fund grant going to the Dennison facility is for a project “that will enable the depot, a WWII-era icon and National Historic Landmark, to alleviate crowded artifact storage conditions at two of its museums and enable both to move to a facility that will ensure long-term preservation of the historical collections.”

Troops during World War II gave the nickname, “Dreamsville USA” to the Dennison Servicemen’s Canteen. A website about the museum notes: “The National Landmarks Commission and the National Park Service recognized the Dennison Depot as the most significant remaining example in the nation of a railroad canteen still reflecting its WWII heritage.”

Dennison was located on the National Defense Strategic Railway Route during that war.

The depot was the water stop on the Pennsylvania Railroad halfway between Pittsburgh and Columbus. Operating the canteen, volunteers had five minutes in which to serve food and to provide other items to the troops while the trains were being filled with water.

Distributed were thousands of free cups of coffee, sandwiches, pies, cakes, cookies, doughnuts, lollipops, candy bars, pieces of fruit, gum, magazines and Christmas packages.

The website pointed out that 1.3 million soldiers were served free food at the Dennison Salvation Army Servicemen’s Canteen and 3,987 volunteers contributed 601,520 hours of service and raised $1,319,439 to operate the canteen nonstop from March 19, 1942, to April 8, 1946.

I n Ohio Histore-News, the Ohio Historical Society announced that $6,600 would go to the John & Annie Glenn Museum Foundation to construct additional display cases at the National Road/Zane Grey Museum to exhibit loaned private collections of locally made wares from smaller firms and made during the region’s heyday as a pottery-manufacturing center with this offering new reasons to visit the museum and to encourage repeat visitation.

Belmont County has many sites related to the National Road, including Ohio’s Bicentennial Bridge at Blaine. Then, too, there are the Great Western School, Bridge Tavern, mile markers dating from the 1800s and pike towns such as Morristown, which is designated as the Morristown Historic District on the National Register of Historic Places.

Bricked portions of the National Road still remain in some areas. The federal government in 1918 selected the National Road as the best way to transport military supplies overland to help in the World War I effort. More than 75 miles of the road in Eastern Ohio “were paved with brick, creating the longest continuous stretch of brick pavement in America at the time,” according to the “Touring Ohio” website.

Money for this year’s History Fund grants is from Ohioans who donated a portion of their 2011 state income refunds to the Ohio Historical Society last year.

AMERICAN Indians who lived in Ohio, the Shakers and African Americans in addition to Ohio State football games are among the features emphasized by recipients of this year’s History Fund grants.

The History Fund is a competitive matching grants program that is one of four “tax check-off” funds found on Ohio’s income tax forms and entirely funded through Ohio taxpayers’ voluntary contributions. This marks the first year for the grants to be awarded.

“The History Fund was developed to support the preservation and sharing of Ohio’s heritage by funding local, regional and statewide history projects, programs and events,” said Burt Logan, Ohio Historical Society executive director and chief executive officer. “It is proving to be a very popular and worthy program that helps local organizations and historical societies fund the projects that are meaningful to their communities.”

Logan said that the strong demand in this first year of operation underscores the need for the History Fund and support for history projects in Ohio. The Ohio Historical Society received 64 applications totaling $891,000 in requests. The supply of grant monies available was $114,000, thanks to the 17,391 Ohioans who voluntarily contributed to the History Fund in 2012 (tax year 2011).

In addition to the John & Annie Glenn Museum Foundation and the Dennison Railroad Depot Museum, others receiving grants were:

  • Clark County Historical Society, Springfield, $15,000 for a project that will enable the society to update and improve the care of its collection of historical artifacts and make them accessible through a digital catalog.
  • Cleveland Museum of Natural History, $12,873 to pilot on a wider scale a proven and highly innovative means to quickly and inexpensively document prehistoric American Indian archaeological sites in the eastern Lake Erie basin, which, if widely adopted, could lessen the need for full-scale excavations of sites across Ohio and the Midwest.
  • Cleveland Restoration Society, $15,000 for the Know Our Heritage educational program, which will document and raise awareness of endangered historic sites in Cleveland’s African American community.
  • Eden Valley Enterprises, Elyria, $15,000 for support of a PBS documentary about Emma “Grandma” Gatewood, an ordinary Ohioan who overcame adversity and became extraordinary through her hikes of the Appalachian Trail in the 1950s and 1960s. Gatewood’s inspiring story will broaden understanding of what the Women’s Movement, fitness and successful aging means.
  • Friends of Whitewater Shaker Village, Cincinnati, $15,000 to build ADA-compliant restrooms at this National Register of Historic Places-listed site, the last intact Society of Friends (Shaker) site in Ohio. Restrooms will enable the village to open to the public, the plan of the site’s leaders since 2001.
  • Granville Historical Society, Granville, $6,041 for a reenactment of the first Anti-Slavery Convention in Ohio, held at Granville in 1836. Produced through a partnership of the Granville Historical Society, Denison University and local schools, the event will enable participants to recreate and examine issues that eventually led to the Civil War.
  • MidPointe Library System, Middletown, $2,160 for digitalization of four historic Butler County atlases. The project will make the maps and information in the atlases available digitally through the library system and protect the originals from the damage that comes from frequent handling.
  • Pioneer and Historical Society of Muskingum County, Zanesville, $8,000 to repair the roof of the 1809 Stone Academy according to the Secretary of the Interior’s Standards for the Treatment of Historic Properties. Listed on the National Register of Historic Places, the Stone Academy is part of the National Park Service’s National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom.
  • Union County Historical Society, Marysville, $3,300 to digitize rare color-film footage from 1938 showing everyday life in small-town and rural Ohio, generally not well documented on film – much less in color. The reels also include footage of the Ohio State Fair, Columbus and Ohio State University football games. The digitized film will be posted on YouTube and distributed to local libraries.

“We hope the high number of grant applicants will inspire more Ohioans to donate to the History Fund,” said Andy Verhoff, the Ohio Historical Society’s local history coordinator and administrator of the History Fund grant program. “There are so many deserving projects and all of them demonstrate the need for this program, one solely dedicated to supporting history projects.” For information on how to donate to the History Fund through either the tax check-off or a donation, visit www.ohiohistory.org/historyfund.

The History Fund was created as a result of the tax “check-off” for the Ohio Historical Society in the state’s two-year budget, signed into law by Gov. John R. Kasich in 2011.

On previous years’ IT-1040 forms, Ohio residents have had the option of donating to causes such as injured veterans’ relief, wildlife conservation and nature preserves. The History Fund joined these programs on the 2011 Ohio tax form and will be on future tax forms, providing Ohioans with a simple way to help preserve our state’s history.

Tax refunds are not the only way to support the program; the Ohio Historical Society also accepts direct donations designated for the History Fund. All donations are tax-deductible. The Ohio Historical Society serves as the administrative organization for the History Fund and cannot apply for the grant funds. For more information on History Fund grant deadlines and eligibility requirements, visit www.ohiohistory.org/historyfund.

Pokas can be reached at bettypokas@yahoo.com