CAMDEN — Prior to its meeting on Thursday, Sept. 15, Camden Village Council held a dedication ceremony formally recognizing a plaque authorized by the U.S. Department of Interior noting the Camden Town Hall and Opera House has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
The ceremony was opened with brief remarks from Camden Archives volunteer, Cherry Anderson.
“We’re here today to observe something that really happened about 25 years ago,” Anderson began. “In December about a year ago, I got an email from a friend of mine, Mark Watkins, who’s an alumnus of Preble Shawnee and fellow Camdenite, and Mark is a history buff, like I am. He was ‘dinking’ around in the national archives website and came across this PDF that was like 45 or 48 pages, and it was an application from Camden to have this building put in the national archives. And the first page of it was approval that this building had been put in the national archives.”
Anderson went on to explain, though the request was submitted in October of 1997 and subsequently approved in February of 1998, the approval was forgotten until it was recently discovered by the Camden Archives. Anderson also added, originally the Village of Camden intended to fund the plaque in its entirety, but soon after received additional funding from the Preble County Historical Society as well as Miley Construction.
According to Anderson, Ruthayn Dearth, Secretary of the Camden Area Historic Preservation Foundation Inc., had signed the certificate of authentication, and speculated that with the building’s stability and purpose in question at the time of listing, it could have been a formality to save the structure from being demolished. Regardless, council was more than pleased to add the plaque to the Town Hall’s face while further renovations undergo planning.
Anderson concluded by expressing her appreciation to the “visionaries” who came before her, and the visionaries who persist to restore the building, and maintain its significance in Camden.
Both the Camden Archives and Camden Village Council expressed their gratitude to Harold Niehaus of the Preble County Historical Society, who was present, and Chris Miley of Miley Construction, who also attended and is also a member of PCHS, for their generous donations to the marker.