Grange Rotunda Building (08)

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Grange Rotunda Building (08)
Formerly called Agricultural Hall; Grange; Round Barn; Rotunda; Grange & Antiques Building
Type Fairs; Fairgrounds
Industry Recreation; Agriculture; Wayne County Fair
Fate Active
Headquarters Wooster, Ohio, United States
Number of locations 199 Vanover St., Wooster, Ohio
Grange Rotunda Building (08)
Former names Agricultural Hall; Grange; Round Barn; Rotunda; Grange & Antiques Building
General information
Status Current
Location Fairgrounds
Address 100 Vanover St.
Town or city Wooster, Ohio
Country United States
Completed 1912
Owner Wayne County Agricultural Society
Design and construction
Main contractor Abraham J. Deneke

Locations[edit | edit source]

City Directories[edit | edit source]

Comprehensive History[edit | edit source]

* October 05, 1912: "New Wayne County Fair Buildings", Wooster Daily News, p. 4.

This structure has been known by a number of names over the years: Agricultural Hall, the Grange, the Round barn, and in recent years, the Rotunda. Technically, it's not really round. Dan Ackerman pointed out that it is a 16-sided building known as a hexadecagon structure.

Whatever name people refer to it as, they most often wish to know more about the structurally-engaging building located on the south side of Christmas Run Creek at the Wayne County fairgrounds.

In April of 1912, the Wayne County Agricultural Society placed ads in local newspapers announcing they would be accepting bids to build two new structures on the fairgrounds: a swine barn and something referred to as first, a horticultural building, and later, as an Agricultural Hall. The Agricultural Hall referred to in the newspaper at the time would become the iconic round building that captures the attention of many visitors to the fairgrounds to this day.

On May 1, 1912, the Wayne County Democrat newspaper reported the directors of the Wayne County Agricultural Society had met over the weekend for the purpose of accepting a bid submitted by contractor C. O. Langell for the erection of the planned Agricultural Hall. However, during the meeting the directors decided the plans and specifications submitted by Langell were not exactly what they wanted. They declined the bid and deferred further action on the building until they had completed better specifications for the building. Whether they intended the building to be round in the initial plans is not known, but they clearly wanted to build something special, as it was unusual at the time for them to decline a bid and not enter into a contract.

A week later on May 8, 1912, the Wayne County Democrat reported the contract for the new swine barn was awarded to Abraham Deneke for $1,344 with the understanding that he had to have it completed by mid-August of 1912, as the Wayne County Fair was scheduled to be held September 11-13 of that year. While no newspaper reports could be found on exactly when the Agricultural Society accepted a bid and contract to build the Agricultural Hall, it became clear that Abraham Deneke got this contract too: when a Wooster Daily News story reported on July 3, 1912 that during a severe thunderstorm Mr. Deneke and a number of men working for him building the Horticultural Hall at the fairgrounds were stunned by a flash of lightning. They had taken refuge during the storm in another building on the fairgrounds when it’s steel roof was struck. None of the men were seriously injured but a newspaper delivery boy was killed by a bolt of lightning from this same storm in another part of Wooster.

It was a wise decision by the Fair Board to locate the Agricultural Hall on the slightly higher ground located on the south side of the creek behind the Grandstand and east of the Exposition Hall in 1912. The older buildings had endured substantial damage during a previous flash-flood incident which took place on the eve of the last day of the 1911 Wayne County Fair. That flood had forced the Board to take steps in the Spring of 1912 to attempt to better control any overflow water running through the creek by putting in cement walls along the creek in front of the Grandstand. These cement walls likely saved the Fair from having to be canceled in 1912, to only being postponed from it’s planned start on September 11 because another devastating flood struck the area and tore-up the fairgrounds that first week in September of 1912. On September 3, 1912, the Wooster Daily News reported, “The buildings on the fairgrounds were considerably damaged, and the grounds themselves covered several inches deep with gravel, sand, etc., which would make it very bad to get around next week.” The Fair Board had no choice but to postpone the 1912 Fair until October. However, by September 20, it was reported the fairgrounds were now in good shape and the creek had been widened in front of the Grandstand. Another 140 feet of cement wall had been added to the creek to help prevent overflow. Flood debris had been removed from the grounds and burned, and the Fair was on schedule to open in October.

The Agricultural Hall escaped any significant damage from the September flood and debuted at the Wayne County Fair on October 8, 1912. The new Hall was described as housing “hundreds of products from Mother Earth” which were “displayed in a remarkable manner.” The building was circular in shape, with an 83-foot diameter, and had 16 sections arranged along it’s sides, one for each township Grange to display their best agricultural products, plus tables in the center for more ag-related exhibits. The original purpose and occupants of the building explains how the nickname, the Grange, came into common use.

2012 Wa. Co. Fair cake baking competition.

The beloved Agricultural Hall has survived the ravages of time and mother nature and is a testament to the building skill of contractor Abraham J. Deneke. Other notable structures built by A. J. Deneke include the J. Weller Pickling Company in Smithville, Ohio, two brick blocks in Dalton, and schoolhouses in Milton, Wayne, East Union and Green Townships of Wayne County. In addition, the Alhambra Theatre and a branch of the Citizens National Bank, The, plus many homes built between 1911-1929 in and around Wooster.

Arguably, his greatest work of craftsmanship delivered to the citizens of Wayne County was the Agricultural Hall, affectionately known as the Rotunda.

Slogans[edit | edit source]

Historical documents[edit | edit source]

Timeline[edit | edit source]

  • 1912 Construction

Gallery[edit | edit source]

Business Letterheads[edit | edit source]

Business Photos[edit | edit source]

Newspaper articles[edit | edit source]

Newspaper full-text articles[edit | edit source]

Contract Not Let[edit | edit source]

Contract Not Let, Wayne County Democrat, 1912-May 01, p.1

The directors of the Wayne County Agricultural Society held a meeting at the prosecutor's office Saturday afternoon for the purpose of accepting the bid of C. O. Langell for the erection of the new Agricultural Hall at the fair grounds. It was found that the plans and specifications were not exactly what were wanted so it was decided to defer the accepting of the bid and letting of the contract until the specifications were completed. [1]

New Hall for Fair Grounds[edit | edit source]

  • The plans have been drawn for the Agricultural Hall to be erected this summer at the fair grounds. It is to be a very large structure, circular, 81 feet in diameter and containing an area of over 5,000 square feet. Contractors wishing to figure on erecting building can see the plans at the Wilson Drug Store, West Liberty St. Bids will be received until one o'clock Saturday, March 23, 1912. When completed the building will be divided into sixteen parts, one for each township in the county. The exhibits from each township will be placed in that particular place. This will have several advantages. If a visitor at the fair is looking for the display of any particular farmer, all he needs to know is his township, go to that part of the big hall and it will not take long to find the display. [2]

Struck at Fair Grounds[edit | edit source]

Struck at Fair Grounds. Wooster Daily News, 1912 July 3, p. 1

At about the same times that young Shay was killed, A. Deneke and a number of the men who are working for him building the horticultural building at the fair grounds, were stunned by a flash of lightning. When the storm broke they took refuge in one of the buildings there. The building was struck and the men were all affected but not seriously. The building had a steel roof. It did not catch fire.

In the down town section there was one clap of thunder that was especially loud, but whether it was the one that killed Shay or that struct at the fair grounds is not known. Several persons declared that it was the loudest clap of thunder they ever heard. [3]

Wayne County Fair Will Be Largest and Best Ever[edit | edit source]

Wayne County Fair Will Be Largest and Best Ever. Wooster Daily News, 1912 August 16, p.6

Wayne County Fair Will Be Largest and Best Ever: New buildings as well as old will be filled with fine displays, big crows expected this year. According to present indications the Wayne County Fair from the agricultural standpoint will be the best ever. Carpenters have been busy making the necessary repairs on the old buildings add putting up two new structures which will afford more room for the large number of exhibits this fall.

It's new agricultural building is 82 feet in diameter and has 16 booths arranged along the sides, one for each township. Tables will also be placed in the center to place exhibits on. The new hog bard 40x90 ft. will be completed next week.

"We have received more inquiries than ever before in regard to exhibits and from present indications the new buildings as well as the old will be filled. We have secured the Board of Trade Band and have spent a great deal of money getting things in shape. We have paid particular attention to the race track and are fixing it up in fine shape," said Secretary G. K. Ebright Friday.

There will be eight purses of $300 and there will be some fast horses to compete in the great races. The agricultural machinery exhibit will be larger and better than it has ever been.

Newspaper ads[edit | edit source]

Newspaper citations with no attached images[edit | edit source]

  • August 30, 2009: "New Roof on Rotunda Reflects Historic Look" by Linda Hall, The Daily Record, p. 0.

References[edit | edit source]

  1. Wayne County Democrat, Wooster, Ohio. 1912 May 01, p. 1.
  2. Wayne County Democrat, Wooster, Ohio. 1912 March 20, p. 1.
  3. Wooster Daily News, Wooster, Ohio. 1912 July 03, p. 1

What Links Here[edit | edit source]