The Early Churches of Grove City – Part 4

(The following was written by Janet Shailer and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Grove City United Methodist Church

The first minister was assigned to serve the Grove City United Methodist Episcopal Church in 1856 and, in 1859, the Beulah Methodist Episcopal Church was built on the southwest corner of West Park and Front Street at a cost of $1,500.

During the 1880s, the framed structure was moved to West Park and Lincoln and was remodeled. The location was much improved from the location near the railroad tracks and soothed the congregation’s concerns that “the trains regularly frightened the horses during the services”.

By 1903, the congregation had grown to over 300 members, and a new building committee was organized. The group agreed to move the framed structure east of the railroad tracks and built a new church at the old site.

The Midland Methodist newsletter dated May 1905 stated of the new Grove City Methodist Church, “nearly 75 years ago methodism obtained a footing in Grove City. The old building discarded this year was erected 45 years ago. For a long time our people have dreamed and hoped for a new, modern, church edifice. Four years ago, under the leadership of Pastor J.I. Tyler, the Ladies Aid Society started a new church fund, which grew to $1,100.”

“On the recommendation of then Pastor Smiley, the quarterly conference appointed a building committee. Subscriptions amounting to $1,100 were taken. Brother John Linebaugh gave $500 in addition to this, and brother A.G. Grant subscribed ‘one tenth of the entire cost of the new building, whatever that may be.’”

The new structure was Romanesque in style and made of pressed brick “with a large finished basement, elegant pews and massive brass chancel”. The finished building cost $7,000 and was dedicated April 16, 1905. One of the significant gifts to the church was the bell, which was purchased by the boys Sunday school class at a cost of $50. The same bell now hangs in the belfry of the present church.

On December 17th, 1917, a fire swept through the church, burning most of the furnishings and all of the church records. The congregation met in the Jackson Township High School until the sanctuary could be rebuilt. In 1939, the word “Episcopal” was dropped from the name as the three major branches of methodism – the Methodist Episcopal Church, the Methodist Protestant church and the Methodist Church South united to form the Methodist Church.

In 1945, the church’s sanctuary was remodeled and redecorated. By 1956, Grove City’s population was growing rapidly and the congregation purchased a 4.8 acre tract at 2684 Columbus Street for a new and larger church. The old church was sold to The Grove City Temple Corporation, who turned it into a Masonic Lodge.

Ground was broken on Palm Sunday 1957 and the cornerstone laid in August of the same year. The church was constructed at a cost of $225,600. The membership at that time was 728.

On April 21, 1967 a new educational Wing was consecrated by Bishop F. Gerald Hensley. On April 23, 1968 the Methodist Church and the Evangelical United Brethren Church were united and the denomination became known as United Methodist Church.

By the mid-1980s the congregation felt the need to expand again and, on October 13, 1985, the new Family Life Center was dedicated. On February 4, 1996, Bishop Judith Craig of the West Ohio Conference of the United Methodist Church concentrated the completion of an extensive renovation project, which included renovation of the sanctuary and meeting rooms.

The Early Churches of Grove City – Part 3

(The following was written by Janet Shailer and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

First Presbyterian Church of Grove City

A group of about 16 members of the German Reformed Church (St. John’s) met on November 16, 1856 to petition the Presbytery of Columbus to allow them to organize what would become the First Presbyterian Church of Grove City. The church organized in November 1858 and among its first trustees was William Foster Breck, considered to be the village founder. Services were held in the Highland mission.

According to the “History of the First Presbyterian Church of Grove City”, a plot of land was purchased for a church at what is now 3496 Park Street, just west of the railroad tracks. Later it was moved west to 3506 – 3510 Park Street for the same reason the Methodist moved their Parish – the trains frightened the horses.

In August 1883, this building was sold to Adam Grant for $400 and he, in tern, sold a lot on the northeast corner of Kingston and Broadway to the congregation for $300. This new one-room brick church was dedicated on October 19, 1884. 26 years later, while excavating for a cellar, one wall fell. It was rebuilt largely through the efforts of the Ladies Aid Society, who raised funds for the project. The building would be razed in 1955.

In 1949 or 1950, the congregation decided to move to a new location where it could expand. Land at 4227 Broadway was donated by Dr. and Mrs. A.B. White and, in 1950, a steel structure was built. By 1954, a new building campaign had started and “ox roasts” were held to raise money.

On February 23, 1958, the present Sanctuary was dedicated. It was built at a cost of $45,000. A small addition was added to the rear of the sanctuary in 1961 (the room was used for the Grove City Preschool). Meanwhile the metal building was used for church school, scouting and fellowship.

The Christian Education Building (with basement) was completed in 1972 at a cost of $130,000. In the late 1970s, the property north of the church was purchased by Mr and Mrs. Ed Montoney and given to the church. The house on the property was razed.

As the church celebrated its 125th anniversary, a building program was started to enlarge the sanctuary and add a wing. On April 20th, 1997, the latest edition was dedicated. It holds a new Fellowship Center, kitchen, additional classrooms and overflow space at the rear of the sanctuary. The former Fellowship Hall was remodeled to accommodate the preschool and provide extra Sunday school classes. Additional land, including a dwelling on Sunshine Place, was purchased for $80,000 to allow for the expansion.

(The conclusion of this story in the next blog entry.)

The Early Churches of Grove City – Part 2

(The following was written by Janet Shailer and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church

In 1851 and 1852, two groups of Lutherans – 1 comprised of German immigrants – who spoke no English and the other of German descendants (mostly from Pennsylvania) who spoke no German – combined to hold Lutheran services at the Highland Mission. During this time two of these Lutherans – George Weygandt and Jeremiah Smith – were part of William Breck’s commission to lay out the plats for the village of Grove City.

In 1853, the German and English groups organized separately, each group having its own officers and Constitution – yet all were combined as St John’s congregation. On May 2, 1853, William and Elizabeth Breck donated to the congregation the lot at the northwest corner of Arbutus and Columbus streets. On January 1, 1854, the English and German Lutheran Church of Grove City was dedicated as “German Evangelical Lutheran St John’s Church”. This building (which still stands today) was to be the church’s home for the next 35 years.

In 1856, the English section withdrew and joined in the formation of the Presbyterian Church. During the same time, St. Paul’s Lutheran Church, affiliated with the German Evangelical Lutheran Synod of Missouri, Ohio and other states, was formed. Their members built a log structure on the site now occupied by St. John’s. In 1861, St.. Paul’s merged with St. John’s and the log structure was used as a parochial and catechetical school until 1889.

In 1860, St. John’s Cemetery – known as the German Lutheran Cemetery – was formed and is located next to the Grove City Cemetery. It is still available to members of the congregation. On July 5th, 1863, Reverend Charles Reichart, a German, began a 22-year pastorate at St. John’s and is considered to be its first resident pastor. His salary was $300 per year.

In 1885, under Reverend Philip Schmidt’s leadership, plans were drawn for the present St. John’s building. The construction of the building was a massive undertaking in those days. The cost was to be $11,000 – a huge sum for the 1880s. After some argument, the congregation voted to build the new church on the old St. Paul’s location and turn the old church into a parochial and catechetical school. That building was sold in 1921 and turned into a residence.

In 1920, a large parish house was built on the east side of the church. It contained a full basement with a kitchen, dining room, large parlor, Sunday school classrooms and a large overflow area. The cost was $35,000.

An extensive addition to the chancel was built in 1937 and in 1948, major repairs and redecorating of the entire physical plant was made. In 1956, the congregation had grown to 1600 baptized members and 700 enrolled in the Sunday school. A section of the old Parish house was raised and a new educational wing was built. The cost for this major project was $266,865.

In 1983, a new north entrance was built onto the church and in 1984 the sanctuary was completely remodeled. On April 23, 1995, a dedication service was held for St. John’s new Family Life Center.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

The Early Churches of Grove City – Part 1

(The following was written by Janet Shailer and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Highland Mission

The first House of Worship for the burgeoning village of Grove city was the interdenominational Highland Mission located along the Highland Road (later called Harrisburg Pike). The Highland (or Hillsboro) Road was built in 1847 and the Columbus and Harrisburg Turnpike company formed to begin stagecoach service with four (or sometime six) horseback.

The Highland Mission, a small building, was located near what is now 4086 Broadway. The first pastor was Rev. R.K. Davis, a Presbyterian. The Highland Mission was not the only place of worship any six-square area of Jackson Township in the early to mid-1800s. Members of the Scioto Chapel formed as early as 1812 and built a log meeting House in 1817. Members of Jackson Chapel first held meetings in the home of William Breckenridge and later built a church on the present site in 1859. As early as 1847, a class was formed in the home of Absalom Miller that would become the congregation of Concord Chapel.

Before Grove City was officially incorporated as a village, the Highland Mission drew a mixture of newly settled European immigrants who wanted a place to serve God. The congregations of St. John’s Evangelical Lutheran Church, First Presbyterian Church of Grove City and the United Methodist Church all have roots in the Highland Mission.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

History of the Grove City Depot and Local Rail Service

(The following was written by Harold Moreland and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The railroad going through Grove City and its station was built in 1884 by the Cincinnati, Midland, and Columbus Railroad Company. Later the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad company purchased it and is the present owner. By March 1884, the construction gang reached Grove City and continued the road to Columbus. On November 1, 1884, the first train rolled over the system causing much excitement and hilarity. A man by the name of Storey was engineer of this train. The effect of the railroad was felt immediately by the community, for it stimulated farming on a large scale. Within a few years the farmers turned their attention more to raising grains, livestock, produce and lumber which now could be easily shipped to ready markets. Within a year shipments had increased three-fold. Lands were being constantly improved, gaining value each year. Grain elevators sprang up all along the railroad. Modern equipment replaced old four-wheeled box cars and wooden coaches as the years passed.

In 1894, has small steam locomotive pulled a one-car passenger train to Columbus in the morning–at night it returned with the same passengers. The train was known as The Grove City Commuter. The passengers all worked at the Columbus Buggy Company. The buggies were horse-drawn vehicles. The commuter service ended when the streetcar line was built in 1889. A picture of this commuter train is among the permanent displays.

Other through passenger trains operated until 1956. In 1972 the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad was forced by economic reasons to abandon its freight agent and partial car loading service. The P.U.C.O. ordered its abandonment.

In August 1972, a “Save the Depot” project was begun by The Grove City Jaycees. It came to the attention of the Jaycees that the B&O Railroad was planning to discontinue the agency use of the station and then it might be moved to a railroad museum in Dayton, Ohio. Petitions were circulated for local citizens to sign, merchants were contacted for pledges, City Council passed the resolution supporting the Jaycee project, and a proposal was made to the Baltimore and Ohio Railroad for acquisition of the dilapidated building. After over a year of waiting, in November 1973 the Jaycees entered into a contract with the B&O Railroad which would allow  renovation to begin. The walls were insulated, a new furnace was installed, a large storage space was paneled, the floors sanded and varnished, and coats of paint were applied inside and out.

The landscape was completed in May 1975 and a formal opening and dedication was held on July 4, 1975.

In 1987 the City of Grove City approached the Historical Society and asked if they were interested in helping to again restore and rehab the depot. The Chamber of Commerce would use the building for two years and pay for part of the restoration period. After the two years passed, they moved into other quarters and the Historical Society began using the building for meetings and storage.


PostScript:  In January 2018, the Depot was moved to Century Village, and is currently being rehabbed to be used as an exhibit.


The Interurbans of Grove City, Ohio – Part 4

(The following was written by Earl Nicholson and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

When Adam Grant finally got all of his “rolling stock” assembled he had three motor cars and six trailers. The six mile Line operated on a ½ hour schedule during peak hours and on a one hour schedule until 10 p.m. then started again at 6 a.m. the next morning. A freight run was made each day during the off hours and later an early morning “milk run” was made.

The one bright spot in all of this was the “lieutenants” Mr. Grant had working for him. George Darnell was the company secretary, who took care of many of the details, and Daniel Weygandt who was the contractor that supplied all of the lumber for the crossing and bridges and all the ties for the interurban line. (Once the line was up and operating Daniel Weygandt became the line supervisor).

The initial run on the “Grove City and Greenlawn Street Railway Line” was made at 4:30 p.m. October 31, 1898. This run started at the streetcar transfer station at Greenlawn Cemetery and ended at the north city limits of Grove City. The Grove City Council had not yet approved of the new street railways operation on their streets). This was not an uncommon occurrence. The town councils were typically made up, primarily, of local businessmen who are not overly pleased to watch their customers get on these new “conveyances” to go shopping in the “big city”. However, even though the street railway could not pick up passengers within the city limits, the car barns were located at the Park Street entrance to Johnson and Grant’s Lumber Yard, later The Grove City Lumber Yard. On November 7, 1898, one week after the initial run, the Grove City Council passed the ordinance permitting The Grove City and Greenlawn Street Railway to transport passengers within the village of Grove City. Application for permission to operate within the village of Grove City had been made on March 2, 1898.

The interurban provided a way of getting perishable goods, such as milk, quickly to the Columbus market. Also typically the interurban line would bring electricity to the towns and villages that it passed through. This is the case for Grove City.

The Interurbans of Grove City, Ohio – Part 3

(The following was written by Earl Nicholson and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The Grove City and Greenlawn Street Railway

In 1898 Adam Grant again attempted to build an interurban line. This line would be between Grove City and Greenlawn Cemetery. This line (with a little “hometown” help) would be successful!

By the beginning of 1898 Joe Briggs was a Franklin County Commissioner. Adam Grant decided that he, with the help of the local people, would try again to provide interurban service to his hometown of Grove City. He made a proposition to the citizens of Grove City, :that if they would buy $10,000.00 of his property, at it’s true value, to be appraised by committee that they might name for the purpose, he would build the line–$5,500.00 of property was quickly sold. Mr. Grant felt that the rest of the money would soon come in. Since $4,500.00 was still needed to meet the total, Mr. Grant would count every $1.00 subscribed as $2.00 because he could still sell the property for $1.00. In this manner the $10,000.00 total commitment was made.

On Sunday, May 2nd, 1898 Mr. Grant and his crew of 20 men moved their tools and equipment to Greenlawn and the next day, Monday, May 3rd, construction began. The 20 man crew were augmented by men who were donating their time to keep the project on schedule. Mr. Grant’s plan was to have the line constructed in operating before October 4, which was the scheduled opening of The Grove City Fair.

(But as luck would have it, on Saturday, May 1, 1898 U.S. Navy Commodore George Dewey steamed his naval squadron of six ships into Manila Bay in the Philippine Islands, and sank the Spanish Fleet of ten ships and silenced all of the shore batteries. “The Spanish-American War” had begun. War news filled the newspapers for the rest of the summer. I could find no news about the construction of the “Grove City and Greenlawn Street Railway” until it was completed.)

Construction of the line was in “turmoil” all summer due to the country being at war. It took months to get the rails promised in just a few weeks. It was the afternoon of the “inaugural run” that Mr. Grant found that he would have an interurban car to run that evening on the newly finished line. Mr. Grant said, “If it had not been for the delays in the work building the new electric line would have been done last August.”

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

The Interurbans of Grove City, Ohio – Part 2

(The following was written by Earl Nicholson and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

In 1892 Adam Grant of Grove City, and Joseph Briggs of Briggsdale, decided that they would like to bring the convenience of an interurban line to their respective villages. This idea also seemed to be a good investment for both the people that served as well as the investors.

The name of this line would be “The Columbus and Harrisburg Electric Street Railway” and it would run the entire length of the Columbus and Harrisburg Turnpike, that is, it would run from Mound and High streets in Columbus to the Village of Harrisburg. This was a distance of about eight miles.

A stock company was formed with $1,500.00 initial capital. This was in the form of 15 shares of stock at $100.00 each. Ten investors were initially involved. These men were: Gideon Martin, Wheeler Young, George Van Sciever, H.C. Cook, Joseph Chenoweth, Levi Hite, Michael Starks, John Young, an “eastern capitalist”, and a “Canadian”.

Joseph R. Briggs was the company president, Gideon D. Martin was secretary. On December 31, 1982 the company was incorporated with Briggs, Grant, Martin, Young, Chenoweth, Hite, and Stark signing as witnesses on the incorporation documents. Adam Grant procured the right-of-way agreement of the owners for a majority of feet abutting the proposed interurban line.

On March 16th, 1893 the Franklin County Commissioners approved the right-of-way to build the Columbus and Harrisburg Electric Street Railway. The first stipulation of the right-of-way agreement states, “That it shall begin the construction of said railway at a day no later than the first day of July 1893, and complete the same and run cars thereon according to the stipulation herein set forth, on or before the 1st day of December 1895”.

The plans for the construction of the street Railway seemed to be progressing well. Then one day it was discovered that $1,200.00 had been spent recklessly by the industrialist making trips that had nothing to do with the project, yet was charging the expenses to the railway project. At a later meeting the industrialist and his “side partners” tried to get Mr. Grant and Mr. Briggs to give $5,000 to head the list of subscribers. Mr. Grant immediately resigned and withdrew from the deal, took his right-of-way agreements, and walked out. Thus ended the plans to build the “Columbus and Harrisburg Electric Street Railway”.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

The Interurbans of Grove City, Ohio – Part 1

(The following was written by Earl Nicholson and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

The railroad had come to Grove City in March of 1884. By 1890 there was a daily Commuter Train each day, otherwise all transportation was a horse-drawn vehicle of some kind. Mister Adam Grant of Grove City and Joseph Briggs of Briggsdale tried to change all of that!

The Interurbans, by definition, were rail transportation systems between two or more towns and villages. These systems probably started as extensions of trolley lines between cities located close to each other. Interurbans were known by many different names such as Street Railways, Light Railways and Interurbans. The cars, until about 1915, were made of wood. The interurban car could travel faster across the open country then could the trolley on a village street. These cars needed to be more powerful both because of the faster speed and on longer trips the passengers expected a more comfortable ride.

The interurban line typically ran alongside the road but within the right-of-way controlled by the state or county government. Within the towns and villages the interurban company had to negotiate with these local governments to operate on the streets and roads. Typically the interurban line would run down the middle of the street within the town then run alongside the road between the towns. It was not uncommon for the interurban cars to run 60 to 70 miles an hour. (I can remember as a child going with my family to Springfield and see the dark red “Red Devils” going along open farmland at a much faster speed than we could on U.S. Route 40.)

In 1889 the first electric powered interurban in the United States ran in Ohio. It ran, in central Ohio, between Norwalk and Newark. It was typically the interurban that first brought electricity to the countryside. It was the Interurban that also first provided the farmer with a way to ship milk and other perishable produce to market quickly.

(The continuation of this story in the next blog entry.)

Memories of 1928 Downtown Grove City – Part 3

(The following was written by Paul Grossman and is reprinted from “Reflections II”, a collection of local stories available at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum. Any opinions made in the article are from the author.)

Next was the home of Fred Hensel. In their front yard was a small hamburger stand that was operated by Mr. Bennett who had been a conductor on the interurban line at one time. Then came the Kingdom Theater, operated by Ben Allmon who showed movies on Saturday and Sunday nights. The large brick home of John Corzelius was next. Later a building was erected in front and used as an automobile agency.

Going west on Grant Avenue just before the railroad track was a building where Carl Williams published The Grove City Record. The Witteman and Miller Feed Store was located on the north side of Grant Avenue. On the northwest corner of Grant and Broadway, there is a brown brick home that A.M. Nichols built.  G.J. Mayer’s grocery store was in the next small building, which later became the welfare office

The next building was constructed by H.G. Grossman and was the office of D.D. Davis. Then, was the Grove City Farmer’s Exchange. A small mill pond was in front that children could ice skate in the winter.

The large old brick house was the home of Emmanuel White and the small stream (now covered) ran along the north side. There was also the Henry White farm, and his land across the railroad track was leased to build the track for running horses.

Hugh Grant developed the tract of land that is Beulah Park. He named the park for his daughter, Beulah. She married Sam Campbell, who was an automobile salesman. The only other house I remember on North Broadway was located at 3791. It was the home of J. Bell. It had once been a dance hall located on Orders Road. It was moved to the present location and converted to a home.

Paul was born and reared in Grove City. His mother and father were very active in the civic and political organizations of Grove City. Paul was a retired army colonel and had many relatives and friends in Grove City.