COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio History Connection is pleased to announce 12 Ohio History Fund grants have been awarded to local history organizations.
Now in its 11th year, the Ohio History Fund is a competitive matching grants program that is one of six "tax check-off" funds found on Ohio's income-tax return forms. It is funded largely through Ohio taxpayers’ voluntary contributions.
“The Ohio History Fund allows us to preserve and share Ohio stories by supporting history projects all over the state,” said Megan Wood, Executive Director and CEO of the Ohio History Connection. “Local history helps us understand where we came from and gives us a sense of identity and place, inspiring pride in our communities.”
The Ohio History Connection awarded $185,624 in grants this year. Since the program started in 2012, the Ohio History Fund has made a total of 122 grants to history and cultural organizations all across the state, totaling $ $1.2 million.
2023’s Ohio History Fund Grant Recipients
Cleveland Museum of Natural History, Cleveland
$17,000 for “Preserving an Irreplaceable Pre-European Contact Ohio Native American Archaeological Collection.” The review panel recommended the project because the request was clear – a grant would help purchase museum-quality storage cabinets, shelving and map cases for significant archaeological collections. These collections reveal to us how pre-contact peoples lived in what became Ohio.
East Mount Zion Baptist Church, Cleveland
$19,000 for “East Mount Zion Baptist Church Masonry Stabilization.” The grant will enable the church to stabilize and repair the structure’s striking green-colored serpentine stone. Finished in 1908 as the Euclid Avenue Christian Church, the East Mount Zion Baptist’s African American congregation broke racial barriers when it moved there in 1955. The Romanesque Revival-style church was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in 2022 for its architectural significance and contributions to African American civil rights.
Great Lakes Historical Society, Toledo
$18,000 for “Collections Improvement” project. Although the society and its National Museum of the Great Lakes relocated from Vermilion to Toledo in 2014, it lacked the means to move its entire collection of 2,000 artifacts or to conclusively determine the scope of its collection. This grant and the resulting project will remedy that and enable the society to finally establish firm “intellectual control” over its holdings and be better stewards of the regional history entrusted to it.
Green Lawn Abbey Preservation Association, Columbus
$9,000 for “Green Lawn Abbey Window Project.” With this project, the Abbey will remove rusted, non-original security grills covering five original, intact stained-glass windows and replace them with new, custom-made storm windows. This will protect them from weather and vandalism, and will transform the Abbey from looking “spooky” to majestic. The five-window project is part of a larger effort to repair, restore and protect the Abbey’s 60 stained-glass windows. Built in 1927, the Neoclassical-style mausoleum was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2007.
Lorain Historical Society, Lorain
$5,000 for “High-Density Shelving for Textile Collections.” The society’s textile collection is stored in the Moore House Museum, a 1906 building owned by the city of Lorain. The overburdened and stationary shelves holding the collections are situated in a way that is undermining the floor joints that support them. The society needs new, movable shelving that is better supported by the structure and therefore better preserves the house. The grant in part will allow the society to purchase new, moveable, structure-friendly shelving and pay the salary of an intern, trained and supervised by the society’s curator, to assemble it and rehouse the textile collection.
Murphy Theatre, Wilmington
$15,705 for “Restoration and Beautification of the Murphy Theatre.” Water leaks had caused damage to decorative plaster molding in this 1918 theater’s inner lobby and auditorium. The grant will help restore the building’s historic grandeur by repairing and replicating original moldings and also by replacing a modern door in a concession area with one that matches an extant historic example. The Murphy Theatre was listed in the National Register of Historic Places as a part of the Wilmington Commercial Historic District in 1982.
Over-the-Rhine Museum, Cincinnati
$14,850 for “Window Restoration” project. The museum’s new “old” home will be in a circa 1870 building at 3 West McMicken Ave. A Historic Site Report from 2022 indicated the windows are a priority for restoration to make the building weathertight as its transformation into a museum begins. 3 West McMicken is listed in the National Register of Historic Places as part of the Over-the-Rhine Historic District in 1979, with a boundary increase in 2014.
Sauder Village, Archbold
$15,650 for “Textile Storage Upgrade” project. Sauder Village has a new climate-controlled and secure storage space for its collection of approximately 7,000 textiles. The project will enable the institution to purchase archives-safe storage boxes, shelves, and other storage furnishings, as well as cover the costs of moving the collection and re-inventorying some pieces. The overall effect of the project will be to keep the collections safer and make objects more convenient and accessible for exhibits and programs.
Southern Lorain County Historical Society, Wellington
$17,419 for “Willard Initiative – Phase 2.” The society is continuing a project it started in 2019 to conserve, preserve and exhibit large (11 by 13 feet) Masonic-themed murals painted by Wellington resident Archibald Willard in the 1870s. He is best known for the iconic painting Spirit of ’76 (1876). The grant will enable the society to hire professional conservators to restore a second mural, which, when completed, will be displayed at the Spirit of ’76 Museum in Wellington with the mural restored three years earlier.
Waterville Historical Society, Waterville
$18,000 for “Sargent House Museum Foundation and Sill Beam Project.” Edward Sargent built his house in Waterville from 1839-1847. Thanks to the society, the house, one of the community’s early residences, was saved from destruction and is now a museum. As called for in a report by a structural engineering firm, the project will repair the house’s original dry-laid stone foundation and sill beams.
Wexner Center for the Arts, Columbus
$18,000 for “Wexner Center Oral History.” The project will enable the Wexner Center (the “Wex”) to collect oral histories from curators, artists, staff, and others from its first decades. The goal is to collect and archive up to 25 interviews and produce videos to share them. The History Fund’s review panel see this project as a model for other cultural organizations on the local, state and national levels.
Wilson Bruce Evans Home Historical Society, Oberlin
$18,000 for “Accessible Restroom for Wilson Bruce Evans House.” Cabinetmaker Wilson Bruce Evans was a Black abolitionist and Underground Railroad operative from Oberlin, Ohio. His house, finished in 1856, has been a National Historic Landmark since 1997 and is now being transformed into museum. A vital step in opening the museum is adding an accessible restroom for visitors, which this History Fund grant enables. The society will install the restroom in a recent, historically appropriate addition at the rear of the house.
About the Ohio History Fund
The Ohio History Fund creates grants to help support local history and historic preservation-related projects in communities throughout Ohio. It’s funded by Ohio taxpayers who select “Ohio History Fund” as a donation fund on their state tax returns. For just the average donation of $12, residents can help Ohio’s local nonprofits preserve historic buildings, make museum collections more accessible and expand the reach of popular community history tours. For more information about the History Fund grant program, go to ohiohistory.org/historyfund or contact the Ohio History Connection’s State Historic Preservation Office at [email protected].
About the Ohio History Connection
The Ohio History Connection, formerly the Ohio Historical Society, is a statewide history organization with the mission to spark discovery of Ohio’s stories. As a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization chartered in 1885, the Ohio History Connection carries out history services for Ohio and its citizens focused on preserving and sharing the state’s history. This includes housing the State Historic Preservation Office, the official state archives and the Community Engagement Department and managing more than 50 sites and museums across Ohio. For more information, go to ohiohistory.org. The Greater Columbus Arts Council provides support for Ohio History Connection programs.