Preservationist Trudy Urbani stands near the historic piano that Ina Duley Ogdon used to write the 1912 hymn 'Brighten the Corner Where You Are' in the very same room of the Century House, Lambertville.
LAMBERTVILLE — Bedford Township’s Century House Preservationists feel that, somewhere, Ina Duley Ogdon must be smiling at what occurred at her former home last week.
Mrs. Ogdon was a poet, hymn writer, volunteer, and Sunday school teacher who lived in Toledo and kept a summer homestead in Lambertville that the preservationists have lovingly restored and consider a historic treasure. The house, variously known as “the cabin,” “the Ogdon House,” or “the Century House,” is at 6829 Summerfield Rd.
Mrs. Ogdon, who died in 1964 at 92, was well-known for penning the lyrics to “Brighten the Corner Where You Are,” a hymn that gained international fame and was popularized by evangelist Billy Sunday. She wrote the song in the Lambertville cabin in 1912 while caring for her ailing father.
On Wednesday, a notable event took place: Movers delivered Mrs. Ogdon’s piano to the house, where it now is located in what was her music room many years ago.
“It was a big day when the piano arrived,” said Trudy Urbani, who heads the preservationist group.
The piano, a Weber upright, made its way to Lambertville from Sagamore Hills, Ohio, south of Cleveland, where it was in the home of Bonnie Goldner. Mrs. Goldner used to live in West Toledo, when her then-husband was pastor of Hampton Park Christian Church, Mrs. Ogdon’s place of worship. One day, many years ago, a relative of Mrs. Ogdon called the church and offered to give the piano to the congregation.
Century House was the summer home of Ina Duley Ogdon, poet, hymn writer, and author, who died in 1964 at age 92. Mrs. Ogdon wrote more than 3,000 verses and two books in her lifetime.
“We didn’t want it for the church,” Mrs. Goldner recalled. “We already had a piano. But we said we would take it for our son, who was taking piano lessons, so the piano was delivered to our house in Old Orchard.”
Mrs. Goldner said Ogdon relatives told her this was the piano Mrs. Ogdon used when she wrote her hymn lyrics. “I’ve been using the piano since 1978, and it has a beautiful old sounding board. It plays beautifully. A tuner told me it has the guts of a Steinway,” she explained.
Mrs. Goldner said she donated the piano because she believes it belongs in the Lambertville cabin where Mrs. Ogdon composed her lyrics. “I think it’s a miracle that it’s getting back there,” she said.
Last year, preservationists took possession of a large plaque bearing the lyrics to “Brighten the Corner Where You Are.”
For many years, it had been at Hampton Park Christian Church. The church had the plaque made as an homage to Mrs. Ogdon. The plaque is now opposite the piano in the music room.
The Ogdon House itself is looking better and better. A $3,000 state environmental grant was used to replace the gutters. The pond has been restored and contains goldfish, and there are rain, vegetable, and herb gardens, and more are on the way. “We plan a butterfly garden with all native plants around the pond,” Mrs. Urbani said.
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