Society that preserves Twinsburg history celebrates its own

by Conner Howard | reporter Published:

Twinsburg -- Knowing the past is worth cherishing, the Twinsburg Historical Society has brought people together through a shared history and civic pride since 1963.

Now the society, boasting more than 150 members, has a historical landmark of its own to celebrate, as 2013 marks the organization's 50th year in existence.

"When the Historical Society organized … everybody [in Twinsburg] knew everybody," said 50-year member Lea Bissell. "Of course, that's not the case today. [Twinsburg] has changed tremendously."

Beginning as a humble farming community like so many other Ohio cities, Twinsburg was founded by Ethan Alling in 1817.

Dedicated to commemorating and celebrating this and other tidbits of Twinsburg-specific Americana, the historical society operates out of its 8996 Darrow Road headquarters, where photographs, equipment, clothing, toys and other artifacts and records are kept. Among the collection are photos of Twinsburg men who fought in World War I, a 1905 model Edison phonograph and childhood clothing once owned by the Wilcox twins.

Bissell said one notable recent entry to the collection is a painting of the Seth Freeman house made before it was torn down in the late 1980's. Formerly located next door to the Society building on Darrow Road, the house's barn, known as the Freeman Barn, still stands next to the Society building with its vintage Mail Pouch Tobacco sign on display.

This assortment of memories can be viewed during the historical society's regular open house, on the last Sunday of each month from 2 to 5 p.m.

Marge Percy, a founding member of the Twinsburg Historical Society, said the organization was the first of its kind in Twinsburg -- a community gathering where friends and neighbors could showcase creative skills and contribute to the city's history.

"When it was started, there were no organizations such as that where new people could funnel their talents," Percy said. "It was kind of a necessary adjunct to the rest. Twinsburg was just a farming community. Other than a small business district and the library and the schools, that was just about all the established organizations there were."

Society President Audrey Kancler said her organization plans to celebrate the landmark 50th year by designing and displaying an 8 by 8 foot barn quilt, a painted wooden square to be displayed on the Freeman Barn, built in 1870 and located next door to the Society's Darrow Road building.

Kancler said the barn quilt is yet to be designed and will require approval from Twinsburg's Architectural Review Board before being installed.

"We're still making decisions and preparing to go before the [architectural review board]," Kancellor said. "The group is going to meet and try to make some firm decisions. We're hopeful. It's a positive thing. Supposedly, it can be somewhat of a tourist attraction."

Though the barn quilt is expected to be mounted on the Freeman Barn, Kancellor said which side it will appear on is yet to be seen.

"We want it to be in a visible place, but it has to accommodate an 8 by 8 piece of plywood," Kancler said. "We're still deciding on design and colors."

Another project in progress by the society is the restoration and maintenance of the Riley House, a home built in 1853 and located at 9577 Liberty Road. Complete with period furniture, this home is listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Society member Dolly Raines, who joined shortly after moving to Twinsburg in 1977, said maintaining the house has been difficult due to old utilities and fixtures.

"So far, they've gotten the first floor pretty well done," Raines said. "The problem is, too often when it would get cold, the heat would turn off and the pipes would burst."

Email: choward@recordpub.com

Phone: 330-541-9423

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