By Thomas Palmer

In October 2011 it was announced that the Galion Historical Society had purchased the historic Gill House at the corner of Gill Avenue and Harding Way West through a wholly owned subsidiary corporation.

On October 30 of that year, an initial public open house, the “Gill House Reveal,”  netted some $2,200 in three hours to go toward house acquisition and renovation costs. In the succeeding 12 years the house has undergone a systematic restoration and become a strong focal point of community pride.

The same period of time has seen the now owner of the house, Preserving Galion, Inc., do extensive research on the history of the property, the house, and the family. Visitors are now introduced to a long list of well-known visitors and people associated with the house. They are also welcomed to the settlement that predated Galion, as the house sits within the original plat of Greensburg, Ohio.

Galionites and others connected with this history have also been generous in donating historic artifacts to Preserving Galion, not only ones connected to the family but also those tied to Galion history in general. Some of these are large in scale; a massive dining room table with matching chairs and sideboard which were bought for the house have now returned, for instance, as has a painting given by Bloomer B. Gill to his wife, Nellie.

On occasion, these donations come as collections of items. We received a substantial number of documents and photos related to Galion’s Freese family, for instance, whose name is known for their philanthropic gifts. This collection includes dozens of original and perhaps one-of-a-kind photographs believed to be from the first transcontinental automobile trip across Canada, a trek undertaken by a Freese family friend.

Other donated items include a honeymoon travel trunk used by James and Olive Gill; period light fixtures; oil paintings; recordings of Galion’s famed tenor Evan Williams and a GHS graduation from the 1940s; and photos of early Galion families and places. The family of John King, the contractor who built the house as well as the Big Four Depot, Galion Public Library, and other large residences and commercial buildings have donated framed oval photos of King and his wife; King’s log book which details his construction projects; and even John King’s personal wood plane – a personally important piece for any woodworker/contractor.

This winter, photos of several of these artifacts are being featured on the Gill House Facebook Page (see a sample below). Be sure to check in to see what is there, and then come visit during this year’s tour season to see these artifacts in person and experience 200 years of Galion history.

Each Saturday, we share a post about local history. We call this series “Galion History Corner,” and we will be sharing not only stories about our shared heritage but also updates on history news here in southeast Crawford County.

This series is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Bernard M. Mansfield, whose “Your Historical Galion” was a fixture in weekend editions of the Galion Inquirer. Dr. Mansfield was a friend and family physician, and he inspired the current generation of Galion historians to continue his work.

Photo: Preserving Galion, Inc.