The old City Hall building, built in 1886, is now the residence of the Clark County Heritage Center. Upon entering the museum you're greeted by knowledgeable volunteers anxious and willing to answer any questions. They will also help during your tour of this exhibit packed museum.
Many exhibits are permanent while others tour and change often, but all are Springfield and Clark County related. It is amazing to see how many manufactures began in this area. From Leffel, maker of engines and turbines, Foos motors and the harvesting companies that would later become International Harvester. Many companies born in Springfield went on to become household names across America.
Springfield had 10 auto makers in the early 1900s. On the 2nd floor of the Heritage Center is displayed a rare, complete handmade Westcott automobile. One of the volunteers knew the gentleman who owned this automobile and remembers the day when he and the car pulled up in front of her house to show it off.
There are sections devoted to Ohio Governor's Bushnell and Rhodes, both of whom called Springfield home. There are other historic figures who became famous in Ohio History as well as Americas.
The military section of the museum starts with an interesting film presentation of the battle of Piqua. Actors in period accurate costumes retell the story of the battle from both sides. There is a captured Confederate cannon the Springfield boys brought home from the Civil War. General Keifer is represented with his tent and supplies giving a unique look at a Generals headquarters during the war.
The Heritage Center houses many military uniforms, from the Civil War up to and including the uniforms our soldiers are wear in Iraq today.
It becomes clear here in this museum the full impact Springfield has had on the development of not only Ohio, but of our Nation. While touring Ohio be sure to visit Springfield and take time to see and experience this national treasure.
The Heritage Center
117 South Fountain Avenue
Springfield Ohio 45502
I had just finished my tour of the museum and was standing in the lobby when a gentleman approached asking if I had seen the military display on the 2nd floor, “It is a wonderful exhibit," he said. The volunteer was Bill a veteran of World War II. He told me of his involvement in the Battle of the Bulge. I shoke his hand and told him thank you. A smile came over his face. “Have you seen our Veteran locator?” he asked. Bill led me across the lobby to a small screen were he leaned forward in his wheel chair and typed in a couple of numbers. A photo of a young man appeared in a WWII uniform. A smile came back to his face and he said that’s me. It was obvious he was proud of that young man in the uniform as well as the things he had accomplished in it. Leaning forward again he typed a few more numbers. A young attractive woman in a smart looking Women Army Corp uniform, came up on the screen. There it was again, that smile, “that’s my wife” Bill said with pride. He then told me the story of how they met, fell in love and have been married for over 60 years. I looked over his shoulder and there she was sitting on a bench near the door patiently waiting for Bill to finish. They both volunteer at the Heritage Center on Saturdays.
While watching them it occurred to me that our heritage is more than just some exhibits in a museum—it lives in people like Bill and Alice, people who have so much for us to learn from.
Take time to talk to a veteran, learn and appreciate what they endured and when you get the opportunity, say “thank you” to them.
You may also be interested in visiting OHIO WAR STORIES.org