Barber Museum may have a new home in CW


By Linda Dillman
Staff Writer

Canal Winchester’s own internationally recognized National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame, homeless after a December 2014 fire, may have a permanent location for its thousands of artifacts.

Mike Ippoliti, museum director and president of the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society, asked the Canal Winchester Board of Education to consider a request to relocate the museum to a vacant school wing in a section of the historic administrative complex off of Franklin Street. The area under consideration is in a wing close to the gymnasium.

“We realize and appreciate what the school board has recently accomplished with the onboarding of the Columbus Metropolitan Library,” Ippoliti said during the April 18 school board meeting. “With that being said, we respectfully request the utilization of four vacant classrooms on the west side of the building for the purpose of accommodating the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame.”

According to Ippoliti, museum representatives, school district representatives and city staffers visited the site and compiled a list of capital improvements necessary to bring the proposed location up to code.

“We are aware of our responsibility to obtain the necessary funding for the conversion of the classrooms to house the museum,” said Ippoliti. “To be clear, this will be a no-cost endeavor to the Canal Winchester School District. Once the project is complete and functional, the Canal Winchester Historical Society and the National Barber Museum, both 501-3c organizations, will assume payment of the associated utilities.”

Museum representative Bob Woods said the estimated cost just for restroom renovation is approximately $30,000 to $35,000. The estimated overall cost to ready the site for the collection, which includes elaborate back bars, dozens of barber poles, hundreds of shaving mugs and thousands of tools—some  dating back to the 1700s—is more than $100,000.

The collection was amassed by Ed Jeffers, who was born in Canal Winchester in 1928, graduated from Canal Winchester High School in 1945—in the same complex proposed to house his beloved artifacts—and opened the museum in 1988. He was the executive director of the Ohio Barber Board from 1971 until his death in 2006 and known as the “Godfather of Barbering.”

“For almost 30 years, the National Barber Museum has welcomed visitors from 50 states, as well as many foreign countries,” said Ippoliti. “It has also been featured in many notable television shows and national publications. Especially noteworthy is Ed specifying in his last will and testament that the museum and collection remain in Canal Winchester.”

Open previously by appointment only for individuals, tours and school groups, Ippoliti said his all-volunteer staff hopes to have regular hours, like the nearby library branch.

“I’ll be anxious to see it here, if it comes to fruition,” said school board President Mike Yonnotti.

When asked when organizers would like to open the doors to the museum—its artifacts in limbo and storage following the fire that originated in the Wigwam Restaurant below the museum’s former South High Street site—Woods said their dream would be in time for the National Barber Convention in Columbus this September.

However, the timeline is contingent on logistics, board approval and financial support from the community and barbers across the country.

“The money is coming primarily from the private sector and through fundraising. It is not coming from any public money, neither from the schools nor the city,” said Ippoliti.

Canal Winchester Schools Superintendent Jim Sotlar said the district is working with the historical society to iron out logistics, city permits and any issues with the state regarding school building use.

“We are excited about the prospects of relocating the National Barber Museum and Hall of Fame to achieve greater access and utilization for the citizens of Canal Winchester, as well as other visitors from around the world,” Ippoliti said. “It’s a dream come true if we can make it work.”

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