The streets of Canal Winchester are filled with history and reminders of the town’s notable past will come to life during the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society’s annual Historic Ghost Tour Oct. 12 and 13.
From the Prentiss School-where a turn of the century teacher leads her young charges through reading, writing, and arithmetic-to the Opera House, built in 1871 by the Game brothers, visitors will have the opportunity to meet history up close as costumed actors portray famous individuals on stops throughout the hour-and-a-half long tour.
"Our first tour last year was very well received; we printed 100 tickets and had to print more, and people seem to be even more enthusiastic this year about bringing history to life," said tour committee member Jeanette Schneider. "This year we’ve had a lot more people want to volunteer and have many more children interested in participating, who will serve as student actors at the school. It will be operating as an early 1900s classroom with a teacher. We’re also going to the site where the opera house was, with period music playing in the background, and to the Canal Winchester Bank, where a relative of the original bankers will be appearing in character."
Other stops on the tour include the only three-story building in the commercial district built in 1902 by O.P. Gayman and the Masonic Lodge; Shade Restaurant, constructed circa 1900 on the old canal bed; Metzger Chevrolet, where a dealership operated for more than 40 years; the Gingerbread Cottage built in the early 1800s by William Miller and home to the Arnold family from 1850 until Marie Arnold’s death in 1986; and the Dr. Lewis Beery house, which was the first brick veneer house in the village.
Prentiss School, built in the 1850s, was originally located on Gender Road. It was moved to its present location, at the historical society complex near the train depot and the O.P. Chaney grain elevator, in 1980. Students in grades 1-8 attended the one-room school until it closed in 1922. Founded in 1975, one of the historical society’s first major projects was to move the one-room school building from its original site to the village.
Starting at the Queen of the Line Depot, the first Historic Ghost Tour group leaves at 7 p.m. and, due to the 90-minute length of the tour, the last group departs no later than 7:30 p.m. Tickets are available by mail and at the depot when the doors open at 6 p.m. the two days of the event.
Even though the event is billed as a Ghost Tour, there is nothing frightening about the second annual tour of historical places in Canal Winchester.
"This is not about being scared," emphasized Schneider. "It’s about history and the people and places from the early days of the village. Each stop will be about 10 minutes, except at Prentiss School, which will last a little longer and is the only stop where we go inside a building. There are only eight places this year, but it will take a full hour-and-a-half for the tour and we’re recommending that people bring their own flashlights. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for students six to 18. The tour is free for children five and under."
Tickets may be purchased through the Canal Winchester Historical Society by calling 833-1846; by mail to P.O. Box 15, Canal Winchester, OH 43110; or the night of the tour. The Canal Winchester Area Historical Society, Inc. is a not-for-profit educational corporation administered by interested citizens interested in educating, collecting, preserving, maintaining, and promoting historical records, data, and property.