SIDNEY — It’s taken five years, but the Society of Architectural Historians has now launched its online Archipedia.
For the encyclopedia of American architecture, the society invited each state to list its 100 most important structures for inclusion. Two of Ohio’s are in Shelby County and a third, a group entry, includes a few more local buildings.
The Louis H. Sullivan-designed Peoples Federal Savings & Loan Association in downtown Sidney and the recently restored Erie Canal Lock One South in Lockington, along with cross-tipped churches in Egypt, Botkins, Fort Loramie, Minster, McCartyville, Fryburg, Osgood and Russia, which are part of the Land of the Cross-tipped Churches entry, are featured.
Decisions about what to include were made by a group of architects, preservationists and historians convened by Barbara Powers, of the Ohio History Connection, who chaired Ohio’s submission to the Archipedia.
“The Society of Architectural Historians have been putting out books (about individual states),” Powers told the Sidney Daily News. “In 2013, they put out a proposal for states that didn’t have books tocontribute to the online archipedia project.” The Ohio History Connection bid for the right to coordinate Ohio’s entry.
“We first divided (the state) into five regions. Each group came up with its top 25. We combined and had more than 250. Then we started deciding about them. Something from everyone’s idea was incorporated in the list,” Powers said.
The Ohio selections represent all periods of the state’s history, from the prehistoric mounds in Chillicothe to the glass pavilion of the Toledo Art Museum, built in 2006. They also represent all geographic areas of the state. They include houses, churches, office buildings, hotels, museums and earthworks.
“We knew that there would be some places like Cincinnati and Cleveland that would have more than one entry,” Powers said. They knew it would be impossible to include a building from each of Ohio’s 88 counties, “but the state is thoroughly represented,” she added.
The group did sometimes make decisions based on whether a county had other buildings on the list. For instance, the Shelby County courthouse was in the original list of 250 places.
“But we decided to use a county not otherwise represented,” Powers said.
Besides its geographic areas and time periods, the Ohio Archipedia list covers all the various types of architecture in the state.
Each place on the list has a written description detailing its history and a photo. The descriptions were written by historians, including Mary Ann Olding, of Minster, who wrote the pieces for the Land of the Cross-tipped Churches and the Lockington lock.
“The lock was included because there was nothing else in the state quite like that,” Olding said. “It stands out.”
The lock was restored in 2014. Frederick D. Keller, of Sidney, was the superintendent and master stone mason for the restoration.
“Before that project started, I did quite a bit of research. Up and down the east coast, there are 184 locks. The federal park system partially restored one of them. As far as I was able to tell, (the Lockington lock) is the only complete restoration of a lock in the U.S.,” he said.
The Lockington locks — the one that has been restored is one of five in the village — were built in 1830, when the area was mostly still forest.
“People built them in the middle of nowhere with horses and donkeys and wagons,” Keller said. “We were amazed with what the people did there.”
Peoples Federal Savings & Loan, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, was an obvious choice, Olding said.
“It reflects a major, nationally recognized architect,” Powers added. It is one of eight such banks, often referred to as jewel-box banks, that Sullivan designed in the twilight of his career. One in Newark predates the Sidney bank, but it is no longer used as a bank.
“The incredible intactness of the one in Sidney and its still being used as a bank,” Powers said, was why the Archipedia selection group chose it.
“This building was commissioned to be a financial institution and 100 years later, it still functions as a financial institution,” said Peoples President and CEO Debra Geuy. “How many buildings can say they were built for a purpose and they can still fulfill that purpose 100 years later?”
She thinks that’s directly attributable to the stewardship of the facility that generations for bank staff have agreed to uphold.
“It’s hard work. It’s nice to be recognized for that effort. We’re very honored to be included in the 100 most significant buildings in Ohio,” Geuy said.
The cross-tipped churches are represented in the Archipedia by a photo of the St. Aloysius Catholic Church in Celina. The other churches are not named in the accompanying description, also written by Olding, but they are referenced. Powers said the Celina church was selected because it was the first one of the group to put a cross atop its steeple.
The Archipedia can be accessed at sah-archipedia.org.