CANAL WINCHESTER − A nonprofit organization in Canal Winchester is turning a historically significant spot into a destination.
The Canal Winchester Area Historical Society (CWAHS) is working on a restoration and preservation project for the 130-year-old O.P. Chaney Grain Elevator. Listed in the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, the Grain Elevator is one of the last of its age and type left in the Midwest.
The Grain Elevator building is owned by the CWAHS, who plan to restore it over the next two to four years. They are currently raising funds to reach their required $4 million, of which they have raised nearly $1 million so far.
Bruna Brundige, President of the CWAHS, had some insight on the history of the Grain Elevator, the project, and the organization’s efforts.
“The Grain Elevator is just a block or two from the very center of downtown Canal Winchester’s historical downtown,” said Brundige. “The Grain Elevator business itself has been around since about 1850, although this is several iterations past that.”
She said that the current iteration of the Grain Elevator was built in the 1870s.
Brundige explained how the Grain Elevator contributed to the agriculture and economy of the Canal Winchester area during its time.
“(The Grain Elevator) would serve as all of the local farmers’ who would bring their grain there and there were ways to weigh the grain, and then distribute the grain onto rail cars and take their goods away,” said Brundige. “So, it was really a vital piece of the agriculture as well as the economy of the time.”
While the restoration and preservation of the Grain Elevator will not be to use it for its previous purpose, the CWAHS still has plans for it to be used to the benefit of members of the community.
“The hope is that it will be renovated to have events like weddings, parties, anniversaries, anything you can think of that is social like that,” said Brundige. “It will have a gathering space, for example for a wedding, it will have a place for an actual ceremony to take place but that’s not all it will be used for. You can use it to host a conference of some kind, or a lecture of some kind, for example.”
Brundige said that in addition to restoration and preservation of the Grain Elevator, there is a major focus on repurposing the building to accommodate these events. That being said, their ultimate priority is to protect the history of the community.
“We are dedicated, philosophically, to maintaining all of our historic registries,” said Brundige. “We’re not interested in changing just for the sake of commerce. The most important thing to us is to preserve it, protect it, show it as it was for educational purposes, but also within those confines figure out how to use it in a more modern way.”
According to Brundige, the project is expected to cost $4 million. She said that the CWAHS has already received two grants from the state, as well as private donations, getting their raised funds about to about $1 million. She said that they will be doing more private fundraising as well as applying for more grants to try and reach their goal.
For those interested in donating, Brundige referred readers to the Canal Winchester Area Historical Society website as well as inviting them to come out and enjoy other historical locations owned by the CWAHS.
“Come and enjoy it now, this is not something you have to wait for three years from now,” said Brundige.