Because You Asked . . . .    

Fire Department Door on North Side of Town Hall circa 1950


School Became Cherished Town Hall 

In 1867, Col. Granville Adolphus Frambes solicited donations from the public to build a private school in the middle of the town square. This school was known as the Sunbury Union Institute.  E. Kimball, D. H. Elliott, J. Armstrong, S. S. Cook and G. A. Frambes were trustees.

Sparrow Masonic Lodge #400 which then consisted of all the men in town had no meeting hall and raised $1300 to add the third story onto the building. They paid the Sunbury Union Institute $400 for permission and to use the stairs to the third floor.  

Col. Frambes raised $5000 for two stories of the building of simple Georgian design made of bricks sun-dried on the farm just west of town. In addition to the classrooms on the first floor, the building held the finest hall for general meetings in the county. Dedication was on Tuesday evening, December 1, 1868, with an oyster dinner, speeches and a tableaux for entertainment. The school went bankrupt after just 3 years of service and the building became available for public meetings.  

Known as the Sunbury Institute, the building had a theatre on the second floor which brought in  touring entertainment troupes. The main entrance was on the west with the wide stairs going to the upper floors.  Through heavy double doors one entered the back of the theater on the second floor.  100 plank bottom chairs faced the stage on the east end of the room.  Dressing rooms were on each side of the stage.  Oil lamps were replaced by gas lights in the late 1800s. Two electric bulbs lit the stage from the early 1900's.  Backdrops were hung from hooks in the ceiling.  The railroad brought professional groups to perform so the village saw many famous plays such as Uncle Tom's Cabin and Ten Nights in a Barroom. Local talent provided entertainment of all kinds.

A  kitchen added to the northwest corner of the second floor expanded the usage of the building.  For years, the Farmers' Institute provided day-long programs of lectures and entertainment for farmers and their wives until the late 1930s.  

Often churches met here as did other community groups such as Scouts, 4-H, Conservation Club Fish-Fries, Miss May Pinney's dance school and May Dancing Club in the early 1900s, Miss Sally Eberly's dance school in the 1950s, medicine shows, home talent plays, roller skating  and even a teen recreation center have been housed in the building. 

With the incorporation of the village in 1881, village offices housed on the first floor of the building included the fire department, the Marshall's office and jail. Activated by Central (the telephone operator), a red light on the top of the building summoned the Marshall if he was needed.  The two caged cells held notorious prisoners as well as drunks and  hobos.  Bill Whitney, editor of The Sunbury News remembered a jail break which gave the town a few thrills.  In a 1960 article he recalled when his father, Marshall Oatfield W Whitney took tramps to jail.  There were often eight to ten hobos enjoying a free night's lodging in jail. 

In 1954, the village remodeled the main floor, removing the jail cell and adding a restroom, and Community Library moved into the first floor of the Town Hall. In 1960, the stairs on the east die of the building were added and the library acquired the second floor and then the third floors as the collection grew. Village Council continued to meet in the Council Room, the middle room on the first floor until the Municipal building was built in 1982. 

In addition to remodeling for the Community Library, in 1965, in preparation for the town's Sesquicentennial, the exterior of the building was sandblasted, pointed and waterproofed at a cost of $4611.  This proved to be a problem because when the waterproofing wore off the bricks absorbed water and ruined plaster and paint inside.

While the Farmers Bank built their new facility in 1966, a vault was moved into the second room of the Town Hall, as it was now known, a window on the north became a door and banking continued from that room.  Town Council met on the third floor while the bank used their room.

In 1974, the Town Hall and the Sunbury Tavern (now Myers Inn) were placed on the National Register of Historic Landmarks.  In 1978, Community Library Friends served the first annual and Oyster-Chili Dinner to commemorate the building's 110 anniversary.   In 1982, the library added an Open House to the event and moved it to the first Saturday in December as the first permanent event of Christmas-on-the-Square.

The Library moved across the street in 1982 while the building underwent major renovations adding steel I-beams to reinforce the structure, new electrical wiring and plumbing.  Hard wood floors were replaced with carpet.  The Library moved back into the building and continued renting until the new library was built in 1994 and the Town Hall returned to the village.

From 1994 through 2002, the village has once again redecorated the building adding a full kitchen to the first floor Council Room.  Public restrooms under the building were closed.  Village Council now meets on the third floor, accessible via elevator. The cupola was restored by Marion Ackerman and returned to the top of the building in May 2003.  

The building is used for community events, Rotary, group meetings, family reunions and celebrations.  It is headquarters for the three Flea Markets, Lions Club Tree Sale and recently the Ohio Bicentennial Civil War Reenactment.

Groups wishing to use the building make application to the village.

Most Often Photographed Building in Town. . .  
TH-1910.jpg (144137 bytes) TH-1925.jpg (146024 bytes) TH-SW.jpg (196426 bytes) FirstSnow-1946.jpg (476797 bytes) 1957-Bryant.JPG (217160 bytes)
1910 July 4, 1925 circa 1940 First Snow-1946 1956
TH-West-1960.jpg (425063 bytes) TH-1965.JPG (83829 bytes) Aerial View and The Columbus Dispatch Article January 1961 TH-East1961.jpg (44046 bytes) Th-1966.jpg (269527 bytes)
1960 circa 1960   1961 1966
1965Dedication.jpg (348955 bytes)

l to r: Jack Lane,
Don Wagnor,
Harold Kintner,
Gladys Hill

1965 Restoration   Cupola 2003 Eagle Gone
Eagle Returns

. . . .And Now You Know
by Polly Horn


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(11/07/2009 )

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