The Clyde Heritage League, which owns the 1882 Town Hall, is in the midst of preserving its brick exterior.
CLYDE, Ohio — Retired Clyde Elementary art teacher Dorothy Cox has sketched the old City Hall “over and over” through the years, including one time when she had to ask a police officer to move his cruiser so she could get a better view of the brick Victorian building.
Sharon Kinnear, who grew up in Clyde, remembers climbing the center staircase to the second floor council chambers for her after-school Blue Bird meetings — the junior version of Camp Fire Girls.
The old Clyde City Hall — now known as Heritage Hall — remains a local landmark on South Main Street in this Sandusky County city, preserved by the Clyde Heritage League and used every day as a senior activities center by the Sandusky County Board of Developmental Disabilities. This summer, it is getting a $36,000 facelift with preservation work on its brick and stucco sides and repairs to its iconic cupola.
“When we’re done it will be water tight,” said Larry Vance, owner of Delaware, Ohio-based Historic Masonry Restoration LLC. “A good mortar job should last 70 years.”
Mr. Vance specializes in buildings constructed before 1930, which were built with a softer brick and mortar than what is used today.
“They have personalities, and every one is different, too,” he said of the houses, museums, and other buildings he has worked on across Ohio.
Larry Vance of Historic Masonry Restoration of Delaware, Ohio, works on the bricks of Clyde's 1882 Town Hall.
In Clyde, he is removing the hard mortar that has been used through the years to make repairs, replacing it with soft mortar, pulling out and turning around bricks whose fronts have spawled, replacing missing bricks, repairing and repainting the stucco that was plastered on two sides of the building, and cleaning and sealing the two brick sides.
Ernie Gill, a trustee with the Clyde Heritage League, said the brick work began Aug. 13 and should be completed by the end of next week. The cupola’s repairs also are to be done yet this summer.
Mrs. Cox, a life member of the heritage league, said the golden eagle atop the weather vane on the cupola is believed to be author Sherwood Anderson’s inspiration for the name he gave to the newspaper in the fictional Winesburg, Ohio — the Winesburg Eagle.
The collection of short stories about small town life was based on the author’s early years in Clyde and is among the claims to fame in Clyde, whose slogan is “America’s Famous Small Town.”
The old City Hall holds a soft spot in the hearts of those who have an interest in maintaining the town’s history.
Ernie Gill, a trustee with the The Clyde Heritage League, is the leader overseeing the preservation of the building's brick exterior.
It was in 1975 — when City Council was making plans to build a new municipal building — that the local bicentennial committee took on the restoration of the old City Hall. About the same time, the Clyde Heritage League was formed and began working with the city to begin renovation of the building. The city deeded the landmark to the league for $1 in 1979.
“The city and the Clyde Heritage League worked cooperatively to invest in the first restoration of the building, and by accepting the building, the Clyde Heritage League agreed to preserve the building into perpetuity,” said Brenda Stultz, curator of the Clyde Historical Museum, which also is owned and operated by the heritage league.
Ms. Kinnear, president of the league, said it’s an obligation the organization is proud to fulfill.
“We are very happy to do it,” she said. “I’m thrilled we have the funds to do it.”
The brick preservation project is being paid for with money from the trust of Thaddeus B. Hurd, a local architect with a keen interest in history and preservation.
For a time, the first floor of the old City Hall was used as a community center and senior center. Since 2004 it has been home to the Clyde Life Enrichment Center for over-55 clients of the county’s Board of Developmental Disabilities.
“We absolutely love it,” said Dawn Smith, vocational habilitation coordinator for the board. “It’s like a second home for everyone.”