The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

November 13, 2012

Now just a part of history

Lenox Historical Society disbands as membership sinks, gets older

Star Beacon

LENOX TOWNSHIP —  The Lenox Historical Society moved one step closer to becoming history on Monday.

Three underground storage tanks, remnants of a former gas station on Route 46, were excavated, cut open and drained of their vintage petroleum products on Monday. The work was done by Flynn Environmental with Tui Trenching of Bainbridge serving as excavation subcontractor.

Norma Waters, who serves as treasurer of the historical society, said the excavation was necessary before the property that had served as the society’s museum for many years can be sold. The former service station last sold gasoline in the 1950s.

Organized in 1984, the Lenox Historical Society fell on hard times when its members got too old or too few to hold the fish dinners that helped pay the bills.

“These non-profits in this county survive on providing food,” Waters said. “That’s how they survive. When we stopped having fish fries, that was it.”

The society spent a couple of years trying to find a group willing to take over the assets and mission of the group. No successors could be located, and late last spring, the work of disbanding the collection began in earnest. Only seven members remained at that point.

Waters said the Ashtabula County Antique Engine Club received many of the artifacts related to farming and gas stations.

“They are going to have a very busy winter working on those things,” she said.

At least five other nonprofit groups in the county shared in the collection. Nothing was sold.

“We did not want anything sold. These were donated items, and we wanted to give them to other nonprofits so the items will be seen,” Waters said.

The crown jewel is the 1867 Lenox Coronet Band Wagon, which will be displayed in the Jefferson Depot’s Century Village.

According to Catherine Ellsworth’s historical sketch of Lenox Township, the band wagon was formed by Herbert King in 1861; its members soon thereafter enlisted in the Civil War under Capt. W.R. Allen as a brigade band in General Lane’s division.

King’s son, Howard, reorganized the band in 1912 with 36 members. The group disbanded around 1919, but the wagon stayed in circulation and was used in parades well into the 1980s.

Waters said the tanks that were removed on Monday were considered “orphan” under environmental regulations — that is the owners of the gas station are dead. The society is footing the bill to have the tanks removed and any remaining product properly discarded.