MESOPOTAMIA — Mesopotamia Memorial and Historical Association members have presented special performances and exhibited holiday displays this month to draw people into the Mesopotamia historical building.
Association member Sharon Grover said that for the first three weekends in December the public had the opportunity to see the structure, constructed in 1846 and located at the township center.
“The public will be able to see the building again as we plan for different events throughout the year,” Grover said.
She said the annual ox roast at the center is the main event that each summer brings more people to the township than at any time of the year.
“We were open the July 4 weekend and sold pie and ice cream and held a rummage sale and had many people stop,” Grover said.
In October, storytime “Stories Forgotten” with men and women in Civil War attire took place along with guided cemetery walks to honor local Civil War veterans. Grover said that event was sold out.
“We open the museum and hold the events to help shed light on the history of Mesopotamia. We plan on holding all of these events next year,” she said.
Grover said that this month 30 decorated trees were put up and some raffled and others sold, and a walk-through to see holiday displays and exhibits took place.
“People in the community donated the trees, and we sold or raffled them to raise money for the museum,” she said.
In addition to Santa Claus, a Civil War string band performed and a Nativity was displayed at the museum. More than 100 local elementary schoolchildren from preschool to fifth came to the museum for holiday programs and demonstrations.
“What surprised me was some of the children who came here did not know what the word ‘museum’ meant. The children enjoyed the tours and did a Christmas card for a loved one, which they could take with them,” Grover said.
She said other area schools have asked to attend next year to learn about Mesopotamia’s history.
“Our goal was to create a Christmas feel for anyone who stopped by,” she said.
Grover said that in 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the museum did not make any money.
“We have operating expenses. We appreciate donations,” she said.
Debbie Miller, an association member, said she loves seeing and speaking to those in attendance.
“I love talking to them about Mesopotamia. There are so many things they do not know about our community,” she said.
Miller and Grover said they want to teach the local history because so many people, even local residents, don’t always know it.
“Too many children today are disconnected with their history. By coming to the museum it shows what the history was like,” Grover said.
“When we have the school field trips, we explain how children years ago only received one toy and how maybe our lists shouldn’t be so long. They learn the importance of helping others.” Association member Al Miller said when the children tour the museum, “it is a blast for them.
“Just to meet people who have never been here before and to see their reactions is fun. Once they start walking through the museum there is more interest,” he said.
“It is good to be out in the community and get the word out of what we have here. We have restored the museum inside and did external painting outside. We have done many improvements and repairs inside. Anything we can do generate interest and also generate funds to help with renovations is great,” Miller said.
Grover said the local schoolchildren will return to the museum for a spring program.
ABOUT THE BUILDING
The two-story historical museum / meeting house sits at the center where other buildings, including the township hall south of Route 87, are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The second-floor showcases items and artifacts used by the early settlers with several display areas, including a parlor, kitchen, dining room and work room. Farming and sewing equipment, such as large looms, are present in addition to paintings, newspapers and photographs sharing the community’s history.
The display also includes an area showcasing the local Bloomfield-Mesopotamia schools.
At one time in the 1840s, the building was used as a church with 10-foot-high windows. It went through several different churches and later in the 1870s had a roller rink on the lower floor with the rink still visible.
The building also was a Grange hall and then for more than 50 years a museum.
Donations for the museum can be sent to P.O. Box 54, Mesopotamia, OH 44439.