Workers Unearth 1926 Cornerstone Believed to be From City Hall
Published: Thursday, April 30, 2009 by Catherine Stortz Ripley, C-T

CAPTION: The Grand River Historical Society Museum is the beneficiary of a cornerstone (at center) believed to have been from Chillicothe City Hall. The date on the stone is 1926. The slab was discovered by chance a few years ago during a residential sidewalk project and formally presented to the Grand River Historical Society on Tuesday. On hand for the presentation were, from left: City Administrator Dean Brookshier, Street Superintendent Hugh Musselman, Mayor Chuck Haney, Grand River Historical Society president Dr. Frank Stark; and Kris Golden, a former Chillicothe Street Department employee and former historical society board member.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

An ordinary modern-day residential sidewalk project led to the unearthing of something extraordinary - a sandstone slab which possibly may have been part of the original 1926 cornerstone of Chillicothe City Hall. The slab was found buried about a foot down from the ground's surface in an area near the northwest corner of Second and Herriford streets - many blocks from City Hall. It was actually below newer sidewalk sections that had been placed, apparently, at two different times many years later.

When preparations were made to pour a new sidewalk at this location most recently, the contractor who was hired for the project cleared the area by removing old slabs and placing them on the city's right-of-way for the street department to collect for disposal. George W. Kitchin, who was employed with the street department at the time, noticed that one of the slabs which had been removed and set aside for disposal actually had been engraved. Upon this discovery, Kris Golden, another former street department employee who was also a member of the Grand River Historical Society Museum, reported the finding to the historical society.

Engraved on the stone in large letters: Erected A.D. 1926. Below the date were the following names: Wm. Scruby, mayor; and members of the council: N.A. Ormsby, C.A. Spooner, H.C. Tate, D.H. Sawyer, and C.T. Brown. This comprised the 1925-27 city administration. Discovery of this old cornerstone has city officials scratching their heads. Was this cornerstone ever erected? And, if so, why was it removed and a different one added? "We donít know," said Mayor Chuck Haney.

The present-day City Hall building at 715 Washington Street, was erected in 1926, after the former one had been destroyed by fire in May 1925. A formal cornerstone laying ceremony was conducted in May 1927, according to Constitution-Tribune files. The cornerstone currently in place at the northwest corner of the City Hall building appears complete. On the north side of the stone are the the names of one architect, Bonsack and Pearce, and the builder S.E. Shultz. On the west side, the cornerstone simply reads in large letters: Erected A.D. 1926. Ironically, the cornerstone was laid just a few days after a city election at which time a new mayor and a few new city council members were elected.

Street Superintendent Hugh Musselman suggests that perhaps the cornerstone slab was placed in the ground for use as a sidewalk during the WPA days of the 1930s when there were a lot of government jobs. "It was probably just waste and someone used it for fill," Musselman said. Back then, people recycled everything. The property where the slab was found is an empty lot, Musselman said. Musselman said he believed that the stone was face-up when it was removed from the ground.

The slab was discovered a few years ago and formally presented to the Grand River Historical Society last week. On hand for the presentation were City Administrator Dean Brookshier, Street Superintendent Hugh Musselman, Mayor Chuck Haney, Grand River Historical Society president Dr. Frank Stark, and Kris Golden, a former Chillicothe Street Department employee and former historical society board member.

CAPTION: Chillicothe Mayor Chuck Haney examines a cornerstone that was found buried about a foot down from the ground's surface near the corner of Second and Herriman streets. City officials believe the slab, which states that it was erected in 1926 and lists the names of the mayor and city council members of that time, was part of City Hall's cornerstone. However, the cornerstone currently at City Hall appears to be intact.

C-T Photo / Catherine Stortz Ripley

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