Wooster residents watch the past come alive in Smithville

July 25, 2013 by  

Last Saturday, July 20, was a special day for the Smithville Community Historical Society, which works to restore historic buildings, as it opened its most recent renovation to the public. After approximately 18 months of work, the society opened the 1845 John Winkler springhouse.

The newly-opened building is a 14 x 20 foot structure featuring sawn rafters and flooring, as well as a hand-hewn framework. Springhouses were once common in rural areas, and are just what they sound like – small structures with a spring or stream running underneath them. The spring provided drinking water, as well as keeping the building cool enough to provide crude refrigeration. In the Winkler springhouse, cold water ran through a stone channel in the cellar. Perishable foods were stored in stone crocks and kept cold by the running water.

The historical society owns property in downtown Smithville, which is about six miles from Wooster, and moved the building there in 2011 to work on its restoration. Over time, the society has restored a blacksmith shop, an outdoor bake oven, a tin shop, and a log cabin, among others. All of the structures are sited on the centrally located property.

The Saturday opening included an appearance from a band, and visitors enjoyed an ice cream social event later on in the afternoon. Society officials might consider working with brochure printers to describe the Winkler springhouse, include directions to finding it, and including an appeal for support.