During the past month the WAHS has been meeting to create a new strategy on how we may bring our history alive to our local residents. Many ideas are on the table at present, including more historical markings, interactive, having reenactors to bring the past face to face and bringing in representatives from area historical societies for cultural exchanges.

All in all we have nearly eighteen ideas we are looking at. As always we want to keep the children and young adults interested in our heritage. When we decide on how to best present our ideas we will be seeking our residents for volunteer work. Stay tuned as we progress on these ideas.

We also will be adding a railroad switch for our Erie Lackawanna tracks. It is vey heavy so finding the right location to display it is under consideration. The new pergola is still waiting for completion and Roger Havens is keeping us informed on the progress. Also the donated locks are still being repaired but we should have them displayed soon in the museum.

March First Friday was a very busy night at the Johnson House Museum. Art work from local students were displayed around town. We hosted the unique talents of the Franklin students. Of course the odor of doughnuts wafted all about town bringing in numerous hungry visitors.

Tonight, March 9th, Mike Burg, author of The Wadsworth Area Homicides will be giving his talk at 7:30 at the Wadsworth Library conference room.

April’s First Friday will be the British Invasion. Keep an eye on our Facebook page for more detail.

The history of the Wadsworth Area Historical Society

Wadsworth Area Historical Society (WAHS) was incorporated as a 501c3 organization in 1991. Our first president was Thomas Brown, who lived in historical house once owned by the late Ephraim Hunsberger, who was the driving force behind the establishment of the first Mennonite College once located on the grounds of the present day Isham Memorial School property.

Ephraim’s house was located on the corner of West and College Street. We know it as the “pink house” on the south side of the street.

In 1994 the City of Wadsworth purchased the pre-Civil War house from the estate Dr. Myra Johnson at 161 High St. next to the city hall at a cost of $96,000. The house sat dormant and neglected for six years. It looked as if the house would soon become another parking lot for the new City Hall.

A grass root effort by the Wadsworth Area Historical Society was started to save as a historical site due to its past. The house was originally the residence of a local businessman who operated a carriage/wagon manufacturing enterprise across the street. Future occupants included a pastor of the local Congregational Church and four local doctors.

The historical society desired to have the house saved for the purpose of turning it into our museum. The society rallied the troops under the leadership of Trudi McDaniel, a local resident and a Wadsworth school teacher. Over 700 signatures were gathered and turned over to the city council. Another driving force was Dr. Caesar Carrino who was the former president of the Evening School of the University of Akron and a lifelong resident.

Dr. Caesar eventually became mayor of Wadsworth during this same time period. After several years of debate, the city acquiesced and in 2001 voted to allow the society to establish their museum in the facility as long as the met the terms set forth in a written agreement which involved rehabbing the house to bring it up to an acceptable standard.

The city invested $5,000 in order to stabilize the foundation. The member’s worked diligently to replace rotting exterior boards, replastering interior walls and ceilings. They also removed the old carpeting and refinished the hardwood trim and floors.

The facility has been transformed into a comprehension local museum which houses relics from Wadsworth’s past including a database of electronically preserved photographs and newspaper articles. Visitors may have free access to theses records in the second-floor research room. A free wifi service is also available.

The museum is also open each Saturday morning from 9:30-11:30 am and during special events. Special tours can be arranged by contacting Fran at 330.334.1191. The museum is visited by well over 1,000 people a year.. It certainly is a jewel in Wadsworth’s crown.

Current and former residents are encouraged to visit the museum. No matter what age group, there is something for everyone to enjoy.