Courthouse History and Building Restoration
For tax purposes, a new organization was formed to spearhead the restoration efforts and to better serve the community. So the Chester-Shade Historical Association was formed. Much time and money have been donated by many folks in the community, and the Modern Woodmen of America have made numerous matching grants to the effort.
Representatives of local organizations compose the board of directors, and under their oversight, the Association has raised over $70,000 for the project. An Appalachian Community Development grant for $20,000, an Ohio Capital Bill fund grant of $15,000 and a Kellogs grant of $15,000 have helped complete the renovations at the historical building.
The Courthouse currently includes a courtroom, museum center of folklore, and geneology center, educational program facilities and more. The Chester-Shade Historical Association plays host to the annual Chester-Shade Day festival in July, and hosts the official Ohio Harmonica Championships annually.
The Chester Courthouse as it stood during the cholera epidemic of 1834
The building as it looked in 1946 when the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter began the first restoration with a gift from the estate of Mary Bennett
Repairs made during the 1960's saw the addition of supports for the front and the removal of two ground floor windows.
Scaffolding surrounds the courthouse as bricks and windows are repaired beginning in 1995.
Chester Courthouse as it appears today!
Some additional restoration images
In October, 1822, plans were completed for Meigs County's first courthouse. In November of 1823, the courthouse was completed and the first trial took place. Chester was the county seat of Meigs County until 1841, when the county seat was moved to Pomeroy, and a new courthouse was built there.
Between 1869 and 1919, the Grand Army of the Republic and other groups met in the old courthouse. Beginning in 1926, it was used as a community center. Between August and October of that year, the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR replaced the roof and made other repairs.
From 1946 - 1951, the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter came to the rescue again, making much needed repairs with an Estate Gift left by Mary Bennett.
In 1959, the Chester Grange remodeled the inside of the building and began holding their meetings there.
In 1976, the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter had the building placed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Beginning in 1995, once again it was the Return Jonathan Meigs DAR Chapter that came to the rescue of the old courthouse. Regent Patricia Holter asked the chapter to sponsor an extensive restoration. Mary Powell was named as chairman from DAR, and Dale Colburn was named co-chairman from the Ewings Chapter SAR.
These people have worked extensively and involved many interested people from within the county and around the State. An Appalachian Grant was applied for and funds of $46,000 made it possible to replace the sheathing and roof, as well as install new bracing.
Chester Academy restoration images