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BILL WEST / Star Beacon photo illustration THIS HALLWAY in the Ohio Cottage building on Middle Ridge Road in Madison Township is said to be frequented by ghosts. The chair was used when a lobotomy was being performed on a mental patient in the building. Christine Harting of Saybrook portrays the ghost.

MADISON TOWNSHIP — The timeline of the Ohio Cottage building history was compiled through newspaper articles, records from the Madison and Lake County historical societies, and research by former Madison Township employee Judy Schaeffer.

The need for continued education became a recognized factor in Madison. The Madison Seminary, a secondary educational institution, was chartered in 1845, and construction of the school began. In spring 1847, the school was ready to accept students. C.S. Hartwell taught the first term in this school. He was succeeded by G.N. Campbell.

In 1859, a brick addition was added to the east side of the building, and the existing structure was used as a boarding hall. The seminary continued until July 1891.

When public education became available, the Madison Seminary saw its downfall.

In November 1891, the building was sold to a women’s group of the Grand Army of the Republic, known as the Ohio Women’s Relief Corps (WRC), and the building was renamed Madison Home. It provided assistance to Army nurses and soldiers, mothers, wives and sisters who had been displaced by the Civil War and had nowhere else to go.

In 1891, the west wing was constructed and became known as the Ohio Cottage.

When WRC could no longer afford to maintain the building, it was donated to the state of Ohio in 1904, but a portion of the facility still was maintained by WRC. It then became known as Home of the Ohio Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, Their Wives, Mothers, Widows, and Army Nurses.

From 1904-62, the state continued to maintain the building, as it was run before, as a home for needy widows, mothers and children of Ohio’s veterans. The building was renamed the Madison Home, which later would suffer severe financial difficulties.

In 1959, the brick one-story center section was constructed, which joined the Ohio Cottage and the East Wing. The newer section was used by the Madison Township trustees as their public meeting room during the 1980s and early ’90s.

On June 30, 1962, the WRC Madison Home ceased operation when it was taken over by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Hygiene. Widows living in the home were returned to their relatives. Those having no living relatives to care for them were placed in nursing homes. Many were distraught at the idea of leaving their home.

From 1962-75, in an effort to help with the financial strain, the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Hygiene used the facility first to rehabilitate mentally ill patients from Cleveland State Hospital. With patients still living there, the building became a sub-section of Apple Creek Institution, and the name was changed from Madison Home to Opportunity Village. The facility then was used to house mentally retarded women who, for the most part, could take care of themselves. At the same time, it also housed inmates in good standing from the Ohio Women’s Reformatory in Marysville. Through a project with the Ohio Bureau of Vocational Rehabilitation, these inmates and developmentally disabled women would learn occupational skills, such as becoming nursing aides, janitorial and secretarial skills to live productive lives in society.

In 1964, the complex was used as an extension of Cleveland State Hospital for aged and senile women, but just for a few months.

In April 1975, operating funds declined to the point that the state could no longer afford to operate the programs, and Opportunity Village ceased operations.

Subsequently, the property underwent further transformations, including:

n 1977 — The Commissioners of Lake County passed a resolution March, 28 1977, to purchase Opportunity Village. The deed was filed on June 3 that year;

n 1978 — Madison Township leases the building from the county and moved into it for the operation of Madison Township government;

n 1981— Madison Township officially takes title to the property from the Lake County Board of Commissioners;

n 1987 — On May 29, Madison Township trustees contact Lake County commissioners about buying the property and building back per the deed’s “reverter clause”;

n 1989 — The Lake County Board of Commissioners honors the reverter clause from the 1981 deed, and the commissioners buy back the property. The township continues to lease the building until September 30, 1993;

n 1993 — Madison Township moves out of the building, and the building remains vacant;

n 1997 — On November 18, the Lake County Board of Commissioners passes a resolution to the sell the building and 2.91 acres of land; and

n 1998 — On May 21, the Lake County Board of Commissioners sells the property at public auction to John Cassell, owner of Cass-Mill Nurseries, for $28,500. The facility is used mainly storage and office space for Cassell, who allows the Madison Historical Society to use a portion of the building as offices and as a museum.