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Mayfield Township Historical Society continues to educate through rooms of history


Outside the Historic Bennett Van Curen House, 606 Somme Center Road. (Frank Meacham – The News Herald.)

Walking through the rooms of the historic Bennett Van Curen House, 606 SOM Center Road, may seem like time travel.

This is because the interior of the house, originally built in 1847, had been converted into an educational teaching tool by Mayfield Township Historical Society.

The house began as a single building by Jacob Bennett, the son of immigrants from England, who moved to what is now the Mayfield Village area. During that period the landscape was different: instead of being dotted with shopping malls and gas stations, it had vibrant fields and healthy streams that could support livestock and agriculture.

Bennett later passed the house to his son, George A. Bennett, who expanded it and became the second mayor of Mayfield in 1922.

The expansions now carry both new and old thanks to the help of volunteers with the historical society. In the 1980s, they transformed the 13 rooms into glimpses of different times, with each room representing a different point in history.

The downstairs contains a printing press, schoolhouse and log cabin, while the upper floor contains a 1930s-era kitchen and other rooms, all renovated by volunteers.

A volunteer teaches how printing works in the early days of typesetting.  (Frank Meacham - The News Herald.)
A volunteer teaches how printing works in the early days of typesetting. (Frank Meacham – The News Herald.)

Joan Gottschling, president of the Mayfield Township Historical Society, said she was glad her group was able to work with the school system to bring the teaching tool to a larger audience. She said the collaboration with the school district has been happening for about 25 years, and they bring in third graders because that’s when students typically start learning about Ohio history.

“They tore down the house here and at the time it was a commercial building,” Gottschling said. “They had a beauty shop, a dentist’s office, and a real estate office. So, for the next 13 years, volunteers would come every Saturday and Wednesday night to restore it to what you see today.”

“This was all a volunteer passion project. Everyone donated their time and did what they could do or what they were good at. They called themselves demolition crews, and they got to work shoveling, cleaning and building.

School children visit a log cabin set up in the basement of the historic Bennett Van Curen House.  (Frank Meacham - The News Herald.)
School children visit a log cabin set up in the basement of the historic Bennett Van Curen House. (Frank Meacham – The News Herald.)

Since all of the furniture was donated, she said, they figured out where each item could be used on the schedule and went from there as they organized the house.

“It was mostly about the furniture we had at the time that set the schedule,” Gottschling said. “We thought it would be great for them to go through our house because we have rooms for different ages, so they kind of progress through the decades that way.”

“We’re really representing the history of four different communities, not just one. We have people from all four communities helping us here,” Gottschling added.

They also have a quilting group that meets every Monday from 10am-1pm, where people can meet and practice the art of hand sewing and quilting.

A quilting room inside the historic Bennett Van Curren home.  (Frank Meacham - The News Herald.)
A quilting room inside the historic Bennett Van Curren home. (Frank Meacham – The News Herald.)

Jan Muhly, who has been helping the historical society since before the house was moved to its current location, said they are looking for new members for the quilting group. She said the club was the first group in the house when it moved, and she wants to see the tradition continue with the younger generation.

“We used to have about 25 members but now we only have about three,” Muhly said. “I was hoping some of the younger generation would embrace it, but I think it’s not that popular anymore. But trends go in cycles, so maybe they’ll follow them again.”

A model of a classroom inside the historic Bennett Van Curen House.  (Frank Meacham - The News Herald.)
A model of a classroom inside the historic Bennett Van Curen House. (Frank Meacham – The News Herald.)

Seeing the building move from the northeast corner of Wilson Mills Road and SOM Center Road to its current location in 1987 was a bit of a holiday for the area with everyone taking time out of their day to check it out, she said.

“There were children lining the roads,” Muhly said. “It was so much fun watching it move. They had to lift it onto the back of a truck and move it up here. We have a lot of pictures of the day in the research room upstairs.

Gottschling said she hopes people in the community will look to the building as a resource.

She said people in the research room can search for grave sites and previous building records. The association is also branching out by providing community outreach opportunities, including the next event, an Ice Cream Social, on Sept. 13, at the Bennett-Van Curen home.



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