Clock Tower

Out of the Clock Tower



Hello and welcome to the Greene County Archives' blog, "Out of the Clock Tower".  Please join us as we share information on archival issues, news, special events, and highlights from our collection.

Before the archives program began in Greene County in 1996, permanent records were stored in every conceivable space, in basements, garages, and closets. Usually they were in boxes of various shapes and sizes, although seldom adequately labeled, but occasionally they were just in loose piles of books and papers. Most notable were the old records stuffed into the clock tower of the County Courthouse, where they shared their home with pigeon droppings.

Now, there is a clean, environmentally controlled, well appointed location for the county archives, where our historical records are housed in standard sized boxes on steel shelves. We have taken note of their journey in the name for our blog.

Jan 18

The R. A. Kelly Co. Office Building

Posted on January 18, 2019 at 4:15 PM by Melissa Dalton

We begin the second part of our series on historic buildings in Greene County. This week, we are looking at the R. A. Kelly Company Office Building, which sits on a one-half acre lot located at West Market and Dayton Avenue in Xenia, Ohio (Fig 1). One would assume this story begins with Robert A. Kelly, an immigrant from Ireland who started a rope company in Xenia, but the building actually has roots years before.

Fig 1. Sketch of R. A. Kelley Co. Office Building from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974 (J
Fig 1. Sketch of R. A. Kelly Company Office Building from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974 (Greene County Archives)

The history of this building isn’t as cut and dry as anticipated (not sure why I assumed it would be). Typically, the early tax records list when buildings are added or removed from property. However, we were unable to determine, with tax records alone, when a structure was added to this property. The property changed hands many times over the years, but with the assistance of Broadstone’s History of Greene County, we were able to find the building!

Broadstone claims that James and Mason Jefferies, well-known cabinet and furniture makers in Xenia, built the structure in 1870. However, the tax records contradict this claim. The records indicate that they did not own the property until 1883, at which time there was a $3000 improvement to the lot, meaning the structure was added thirteen years later than Broadstone claimed.

It appears the Jefferies’ company went out of business short thereafter, and from there, the property changed hands many times. From 1886 to 1891, another cordage company, the Field Cordage Co., owned the property. It then was deeded to the Security Corporation, and in 1893, it again changed ownership, and was now part of the U.S. Cordage Co. (later known as the American Cordage Co.) (Fig 2). The property was in a state of flux for roughly ten years, but in 1901, the R. A. Kelly Co. took ownership of the property. The R. A. Kelly Co. owned the building for over fifty years, but in 1955, they moved their offices to a new location (Fig 3).

Fig 2. 1896 Greene County Atlas with lot outlined in red (JPG)
Fig 2. 1896 Greene County Atlas with lot outlined in red (Greene County Archives)

Fig 3. Image from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 27, 1982 (JPG)
Fig 3. Image from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated January 27, 1982 (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

After the R. A. Kelly Co. moved, the Wyandot Realty Co. bought the property, and held it until at least 1970. During that time (and even after), the building saw many tenants, including the Department of Natural Resources, Water & Soil Conservation, OLT Laboratory, Frye Gene Insurance, and Miami Valley Production Credit Association. In 1974, the building was occupied by the Soil & Water Conservation District, and was severely damaged when the tornado struck Xenia. Here at the Archives, we have a small collection of records and photographs from the District, which includes photographs of the damage (Fig 4).

Fig 4. Photographs of building after the 1974 Xenia Tornado (JPG)
Fig 4. Photographs of building after the 1974 Xenia Tornado (JPG)
Fig 4. Photographs of building after 1974 Xenia Tornado (Soil & Water Conservation District)

The Miami Valley Production Credit Association eventually bought the property, but in 1985, it was deeded to Kay Slesinger, a realtor in the area. Kay and John Slesinger sold the property to Greene County Alcohol & Drug Addiction / Mental Health Service Board in 1995. Two years later in 1997, the Christopher House opened. The Christopher House, which is operated by TCN Behavioral Health Services, Inc., is a 16-bed facility for men ages 18 and over, and provides chemical dependency treatment (Fig 5). Today, over twenty years later, the Christopher House still occupies the space.

Fig 5. Image of the Christopher House (JPG)
Fig 5. Image of the Christopher House (Greene County GIS Maps)

We hoped you enjoyed the second installment of our historic buildings series! Stayed tuned as we have more to come!

Until Next Time…

Sources:
Broadstone, M. A. (Ed.). (1918). History of Greene County, Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions (Vol. 1). Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Greene County Archives
Greene County GIS Maps
NewspaperARCHIVE.com


Jan 11

Trinity United Methodist Church

Posted on January 11, 2019 at 10:48 AM by Melissa Dalton

This week, we begin our series on the history of buildings and structures of Greene County, featured in the August 21, 1974 article of the Xenia Daily Gazette. The first building to be discussed is the Trinity United Methodist Church (Fig 1).

Fig 1. Trinity United Methodist Church (JPG)
Fig 1. Trinity United Methodist Church (Xenia Daily Gazette)

The Trinity United Methodist Church was an outgrowth of the First Methodist Episcopal Church in Xenia, Ohio. First Methodist was founded in 1808 by Frederick Bonner, a prominent Methodist from Virginia. The church grew over the years, and in 1836, it gained its first full-time pastor (no longer a travelling or circuit pastor), Rev. Azra Brown. This event allowed the church to grow even more, and in 1864, the congregation had outgrown its church. It was decided that another church should be erected in Xenia, and a location was chosen at the corner of Main and Monroe streets. The cornerstone was laid in the new Trinity Methodist Episcopal Church on May 14, 1864, with a dedication taking place on October 1, 1865.

The two churches, First Methodist and Trinity, continued their partnership over the years, and would join for special events and services, including their Love Feast (Fig 2). However, in 1968 during the General Conference in Dallas, Texas, the Methodist Church and Evangelical United Brethren Church merged to form the United Methodist Church. Subsequently, the two Methodist churches in Xenia, First Methodist and Trinity, both became United Methodist churches. The next year, the two congregations opened talks of a merger. In 1970, they voted to merge the two churches, and named the new congregation Faith Community United Methodist.

Fig 2. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated September 7, 1889 (JPG)
Fig 2. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated September 7, 1889, regarding Methodist Church Conference (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

The next two years marked a period of great change for the local Methodist community. With the merger, the new congregation needed a building large enough for its members. It was decided by the trustees to build a new church, but they had to decide what to do with the current structures. In the end, it was decided that Trinity United Methodist Church would be razed (Fig 3). A previous windstorm had severely damaged the steeple of the church, and the trustees felt the church would see even more problems in the future, making demolition the reasonable decision (Fig 4).

Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 19, 1972 (JPG)
Fig 3. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated May 19, 1972, regarding Trinity Church demolition (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 14, 1972 (JPG)
Fig 4. Article from Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 14, 1972, regarding new church (NewspaperARCHIVE.com)

Although Trinity is gone, its stained glass windows can be seen in Faith Community United Methodist Church today. The trustees saved not only the stained glass from Trinity, but also the pipe organ from First Church, allowing them to have pieces of their past forever enshrined in their church.

UNTIL NEXT TIME...

Sources:
Broadstone, Michael A. (1918). History of Greene County Ohio: Its people, industries and institutions. Indianapolis, IN: B. F. Bowen & Company, Inc.
Greene County Archives
NewspaperARCHIVE.com
Jan 04

Historic Buildings of Greene County

Posted on January 4, 2019 at 10:51 AM by Melissa Dalton

In the August 21, 1974 issue of the Xenia Daily Gazette, there was a full page article highlighting sketches of historic structures in the County (Fig 1). These felt pen sketches by Richard L. Mauck, were commissioned by the Ohio Bell Telephone Company, which had a location in downtown Xenia. According to the article, Ohio Bell had a custom of decorating their local offices with sketches of historic structures in the region, but the Xenia location was the first to have work by Mauck, a native of Columbus.

Fig 1. The Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974 (JPG)
Fig 1. Xenia Daily Gazette, dated August 21, 1974

The ten buildings selected for this project were the Greene County Courthouse, St. Brigid Catholic Church, Trinity United Methodist Church, the Steele Building, the Moorehead House, the Snediker Barn, the Glossinger Cultural Center, the Galloway Cabin, Shawnee Park Pavilion, and the Kelley Company Office Building. As many of you know, one of the worst tornado outbreaks in history hit Xenia in the spring of 1974, just a few months prior to the above article. This system consisted of 148 tornadoes, struck ten states (as well as Ontario, Canada), all within a 24-hour period. The Xenia tornado was one of the worst, ripping through the area, leaving a path of destruction. Almost all the buildings illustrated in these drawings were heavily damaged or destroyed in the devastating storm. These sketches were a way for Ohio Bell to preserve and memorialize the historic structures. Today, only four of the buildings remain – the Courthouse, Kelley Co. Office Building, Shawnee Park Pavilion, and the Galloway Cabin. Over the next few weeks, we will spotlight each of the structures, providing our readers with a brief history of each. As these buildings are well-known historic structures in Greene County, we have featured them in previous blog posts. Links to blogs on the Courthouse, St. Brigid Catholic Church, and the Steele Building are provided below.


Architectural drawing of the Courthouse (JPG)
Architectural drawing of Courthouse circa 1900

Blog on St. Brigid Catholic Church: http://www.co.greene.oh.us/Blog.aspx?IID=25#item

Image of St. Brigid Catholic Church (JPG)
Image from "An Illustrated History of St. Brigid's Church, 1898, Xenia, OH”

Blog on Steele Building: https://www.co.greene.oh.us/Blog.aspx?IID=68

Image of the Steele Building (JPG)
Steele Building circa 1908

Next week, we will delve into the history of the Trinity United Methodist Church, which was razed prior to the tornado due to the changing needs of the congregation. Stay tuned to learn more!

Until Next Time...

Sources:
An Illustrated History of St. Brigid's Church, 1898, Xenia, OH
Greene County, 1803-1908, edited by A Committee of the Home Coming Association, 1908.
Greene County Archives