New book illustrates Canal Winchester’s history

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By Rick Palsgrove
Eastside Editor

Photo from the book, “Canal Winchester,” by Ron Weaver and courtesy of the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society
This is the Canal Winchester Opera House in 1898. The building also housed a dry goods store and a grocery. Located at 19 N. High St., it later burned down.

Canal Winchester’s past is featured in a new book containing photographs that document the town’s history.

The book, “Canal Winchester,” by Ronald Weaver, is part of Arcadia Publishing’s “Images of America” series.

“There’s a lot of interesting history in Canal Winchester,” said Weaver. “Other area towns, like Pickerington and Groveport, have had Arcadia books published about them. I thought Canal Winchester needed to have one, too.”

Weaver, who recently moved to New Knoxville, Ohio, after living in the Canal Winchester area for many years, has served as an officer and trustee for the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society. He holds a bachelor’s degree in history and political science from Ohio University and a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Dayton.

The book contains rare images, photo postcards, and more gathered from libraries, individuals, and historical groups, with most of the images coming from the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society archives. Photos in the book include the town’s canal, railroad and interurban history; social history; schools and churches; street scenes; business; and farming. There’s also a chapter featuring photos of the covered bridges that once spanned streams in the Canal Winchester area.

“The photos in the book are a small microcosm of what the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society has,” said Weaver. “It was fun looking at and gathering the photos. There are some great, great images and all the photos are of Canal Winchester.”

Weaver said as he sifted through the CWAHS files he was happily surprised to find a stash of photos that once belonged to George Bareis, the noted local historian who published the highly regarded book, “The History of Madison Township, Canal Winchester, and Groveport, Ohio,” in 1902.

“Some of these Bareis photos included in my book haven’t been seen publicly before,” said Weaver. “Bareis was significant in preserving the history of the area.”

Weaver pays homage to Bareis by including in the book a photo of Bareis’ home, which once stood near the corner of High and Columbus streets. The site of Bareis’ home is now the parking lot behind the Huntington Bank.

Weaver, a railroad history buff, said one of his favorite images is of a train passing through Canal Winchester.

“You can see how rural it once was,” said Weaver, noting that in the photo one can see the train depot and the O.P. Chaney grain elevator in the background, but there are no other houses or buildings around, just fields.

Another interesting set of photos Weaver mentioned are of the Canal Winchester Bank building on South High Street.

“I never knew the bank originally had a solid brick exterior and was covered with ivy,” said Weaver. “I also had never seen interior images of the bank before.”

The book captures moments in time and the town’s transitions.

“You can see Canal Winchester go from an agricultural community and then changing to a suburb of Columbus,” said Weaver. “It’s a natural progression and we know it will change in the future as well.”

Though the town continues to evolve, the past remains visible.

“Many of the old homes and buildings are still here,” said Weaver. “It provides good historical reference points.”

Weaver expressed his thanks to Judy Fleming and Jeanette Schneider of the CWAHS for their help in helping him gather information for the book.

“The book was a joy to do,” said Weaver.

The book will be available for purchase for $23.99 in late July at area book stores and through Arcadia Publishing at arcadiapublishing.com. The book may also be purchased through the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society by calling 614-833-1846.

Visit www.cwhistory.org for information on the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society.

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