ANNA — The Anna Historical Society is giving residents the chance to be memorialized within the Packer Historical Center, located at 112 W. Main St.
The center, which is set to open in December of this year, is currently being established within a 3,000-square-foot house in Anna. Before any grand opening can be confirmed, however, a full reconstruction of the home’s front porch must be completed.
With this reconstruction, the Anna District Historical Society is giving families and friends of the Anna, Kettlersville, and McCartyville communities the opportunity to honor the lives or memories of loved ones by “purchasing” the pillars and balustrades used in the construction of the new porch.
For a tax-deductible “balustrade level” donation of $500, a “pillar level” donation of $1,400, the names of those being remembered, as well as the donors, will be inscribed on a plaque and displayed on the porch of the center.
“All (donors) will be recognized,” said Linda Glessner, a founding member of the Anna District Historical Society. “They can tell us if they want it to just (say) their family, or if they want it in honor or memory of someone, and that plaque will be right outside the front door.”
The Edwardian-style home was originally built in 1912 by a local physician, named Dr. Johnson, and his wife, according to the Historical Society.
Since 1912, the home has had around a dozen owners, finally landing in the hands of Glessner, who purchased the house two years ago at a Sheriff’s Sale for $77,000.
Glessner promptly donated the home to the Historical Society with the intent to open it as a local history museum and activity center.
“My aunt and uncle Onalee and Richard Packer were generous and left me money,” Glessner said. “My philosophy is that you do it for your community, so I said I would buy the house if the group agreed to name it the Packer Center.”
Carol Wentz, Glessner’s fellow Historical Society member, said the group was happy to oblige.
Glessner said the home was foreclosed on two years ago, and that the previous tenants left it in a state of disarray, with things like clothes, toys, and family photos scattered throughout.
“Whatever they didn’t want, they left,” Wentz said. “It was a mess.”
Glessner and Wentz were not deterred by the condition of the home, nor the work that was in store for them.
“As one of our members said when we got this house, ‘The community needs a project,’ and they’ve responded very well,” Glessner said.
“We’re moving room by room,” Wentz said “But we are lucky in the fact that we have a lot of very resourceful (Historical Society) members who know where to look for resources, and we have a lot of (volunteers) who have many talents. People will come to us and say, ‘What can I do?’”
In addition to volunteers taking time to help prepare the center, the Historical Society employed the work of local contracting company, Wells Brothers, Inc., of Anna, who was in charge of removing the old porch and will add new steps and pillars.
For the stone work, Wentz said they wanted to find a construction service that could produce balustrades and pillars as close to the original look as possible.
“My husband, Randy, has done a tremendous amount of research on this,” Wentz said. “He made a lot of calls and finally found the Custom Cast Stone Company, of Westfield, Indiana, who said, ‘Yes, we can duplicate this.’”
Electricity, heating, and air conditioning work within the home was completed by Steve & Ted’s Services LLC, of Anna, and Chad Troyer, a local drywaller, has donated his time and assistance to help prepare the center, according to Glessner and Wentz.
“We’ve been blown away by the people who have signed on for this,” Wentz said. “It’s truly been a community effort.”
Along with the pillar and balustrade-level donations, those interested may also “sponsor” a room or area inside the house.
The entry way and front room may be sponsored for $15,000; upstairs rooms for $10,000; the fireplace room for $15,000; an entry room for $12,000; and the old doctor’s office room for $12,000. Plaques will appear in each of these areas to honor the donors.
As the Historical Society is designated as a 501(c)3 organization, all donations are tax-deductible. Donations can be mailed to the Anna District Historical Society, P.O. Box 133, Anna, Ohio 45302.
For more information, contact Linda Glessner at 937-394-2320, or Randy Wentz at 419-234-7660.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4825.