By Linda Dillman
More than two decades ago, the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society took ownership of the 1880s-era O.P. Chaney Grain Elevator to preserve its historical value for generations to come, but the time has arrived to turn dedication into action in maintaining the structure.
A first-of-its-kind gala was held last fall to raise funds for the $20,000 renovation of a portion of the building, which is located at the historical complex at Oak and North High streets. The current elevator, which served area farmers for decades, was constructed in 1887 and replaced a similar structure that burned down in 1880.
Previously, the society conducted major structural improvements from 1999 to 2000, along with renovation of the Hockman Room and painting. Presently, the ground floor of the multi-story structure contains a collection of vintage vehicles, including a wagon that was renovated as an Eagle Scout project.
“We are currently replacing the exterior siding,” said society Vice President Larry Flowers. “The east elevation is complete. Now we are working on the west elevation. The CWAHS feels this is a valuable part of our agricultural history and are committed to improve this structure and create museum space. We started to build excitement about the elevator last year when we had our gala.”
The historical society is continuing its fundraising efforts while working on replacing the exterior siding on the west elevation of the Chaney elevator. Organizers have no set timeline for completion of the overall endeavor and are working on projects as they obtain financial resources.
“We have applied for state capital bill funding,” said Flowers. “We believe the project will require about $2 million.”
Future plans for the building include creating public space for small events and an agricultural museum. The historical society complex also includes the Queen of the Line Train Depot and the circa 1850 Prentiss schoolhouse, which was moved from its original location near Gender Road in 1980 to its current home along Oak Street.
The present train depot replaced one that burned down in October 1894 when, according to reports, a spark from a passing locomotive landed on the roof and smoldered until it caught fire. According to the book, “Canal Winchester Ohio: The Second Ninety Years,” by Frances Steube and Lillian Carroll, while the new station was being built, the telegraph office was temporarily moved into the grain elevator.
“Canal Winchester has a rich history in agricultural, transportation, and educational programs,” said Flowers. “Our train depot, transportation museum, our Prentiss school, educational history, and soon our grain elevator—agricultural history. We encourage community involvement. Join the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society. Join us in our history and our exciting future.”
For information, contact the society by visiting www.cwhistory.org.