The Brownhelm Historical Association is renovating the former Brownhelm School (1889-1988) located at 1940 North Ridge Road. The Historic Brownhelm School & Museum offers a place for meetings, hosts the annual Brownhelm Community Christmas, provides events for the community, and hosts fundraisers such as the annual Grandma’s Attic Sale. Upstairs classrooms house museum space displaying historical artifacts from the school’s past and from notable historical locations such as Swifts Mansion and the Light of Hope Orphanage.
The Brownhelm Historical Association maintains the Brownhelm Heritage Museum at 1355 Claus Road, Vermilion. Built in 1870, it was formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church and was given to the association by its last 3 remaining members. The church was restored and it now houses many artifacts of Brownhelm history. The December Christmas Meeting is held at the Brownhelm Heritage Museum.
The 'lost forgotten cemetery', located at 1863 Liberty Avenue in Vermilion, is no longer forgotten. Through much time and legal effort, the BHA managed to gain ownership to protect, renew, maintain and honor the cemetery site. Now known as Brown’s Lake Road Cemetery, it was named after Col. Henry Brown, founder of Brownhelm and who established the first ‘burying ground’ in the new township. His daughter Charlotte Brown, young wife of Ezekiel Goodrich, was one of the first to be buried there. Many of Brownhelm’s early settlers were also laid to rest there, including a Revolutionary War veteran, Bildad Belden.
In 2017, the Brownhelm Historical Association was awarded a grant through the Ohio Historical Records Advisory Board, an extension of the Ohio History Center, to organize, catalog, and preserve our genealogy collection. This has led to the creation of 40 genealogy files on local families featuring original documents and photographs, reference material, and other valuable genealogical resources which are available to researchers. Feel free to search our the collection finding aid here. For more information, please contact us at [email protected].
The Brownhelm Historical Association, Established 1993.
On March 3, 1993, a group of interested people gathered at the home of Marcia DePalma with the intent of forming a group dedicated to preserving Brownhelm’s rich history.
The following fourteen people were at that first gathering:
Marcia DePalma, Jody Frimel, Ed and Marilyn Brill, Fred and Peg Fillmore, Mary Konick, Melvin Niggle, Lora Wilms, Bonnie Cutcher, Peg New, Don Bechtel, Tracy Lockhart, and Anne Gray.
We have now grown into the Brownhelm Historical Association with 150-plus members. It was also at that meeting the group had it brought to its attention by the late Mary Konick of a 'lost and forgotten cemetery' on Lake Road. From these early beginnings formed a strong group of people wanting to ensure the history and become active in the preservation of three historical locations within the township.
The Brownhelm Historical Association currently has a major project underway in the renovation of the former Brownhelm School (1889-1988) located at 1940 North Ridge Road. In 2017 the school will be named the Historic Brownhelm School & Museum. The goal of the Brownhelm Historical Association is to create a place for their meetings, to host the annual Brownhelm Community Christmas, and to provide events for the community and fundraisers such as the annual Grandma’s Attic Sale. In September 2015, the school also saw a historical play on its stage, the first one in over 30 years, followed by a community dinner afterwards.
The BHA will also use additional upstairs classrooms to create museum space to display historical artifacts from the school’s past and from notable historical locations such as Swifts Mansion and the Light of Hope Orphanage. Through the dedication and hard work of a small group of members, the east classroom, former library, bathroom and hallway have now been completely and beautifully restored. The west classroom and gym, now near completion, should be ready for use in 2017. When many old schools are being demolished, the Brownhelm School still stands through their dedication and efforts!
The Brownhelm Historical Association holds meetings the first Wednesday of each month beginning in February, March, April, May and June; off July and August; resume September, October, November, and December.
Meetings are held at the Historic Brownhelm School and Museum at 1940 North Ridge Road, Vermilion.
Note: the December Christmas Meeting is held at the Brownhelm Heritage Museum (formerly the German Evangelical and Reformed Church) at 1355 Claus Road, Vermilion.
Doors open at 6:15 for those who wish to attend the business meeting from 6:30-7pm. Those wishing to only attend the program should arrive between 7-7:15pm for refreshments and socializing. Programs start at 7:30pm.
We are always happy and grateful to welcome new members interested in learning about the history of Brownhelm and helping to preserve it for future generations.
Please mail both the application and a check for dues, payable to the Brownhelm Historical Association, to:
Brownhelm Historical Association
PO Box 303, Vermilion OH 44089
December 24th, annually, the Community Christmas with Santa Claus delivers gifts to Brownhelm Ohio residents. 20 Santas visit all homes in Old Brownhelm, the area originally served by the Brownhelm School before it was consolidated with Firelands Schools. Every child under 10 receives a gift; those up to age 14 receive candy and fruit. Seniors citizens are gifted with a half-peck basket of fruit. Cards are sent out to everyone serving in the military. Anyone who might go without Christmas dinner discreetly receives food packages.
The Brownhelm Community Christmas Santa visits have become an integral part of the season for Brownhelm residents. Organizers rely solely on donations; they do not solicit businesses but local businesses donate fruit and solicit donations. Volunteers drive Santa from house to house, wrap gifts, assemble fruit baskets, pack candy into bags, and help the Santas get dressed on Christmas Eve.
For more information about the Brownhelm Historical Association programs, events, and projects please call one of the following people on our board: