A piece of Van Wert’s history is now located at Camp Clay. A log cabin built in 1837 was donated to the YMCA’s Camp Clay by the Meredith and Ernestine Springer family and was moved from its home across the road from the old rest stop on U.S. 224 W to its new location on the north side of Rotary Lake at Camp Clay. Merkle Heavy Moving accomplished the feat, moving the first story as one piece.
Camp Clay Facilitator Clint Myers said the building is believed to be the oldest wooden structure in Van Wert County. The former Lawrence Gribler was the last known person to live in the cabin and the family has a photograph of him standing in front of the cabin when he was a small boy. Myers is now working with Gribler’s widow, Ruth, to try to obtain a copy of the photograph so it can be displayed with the cabin.
“Lawrence always talked kindly to Ernestine and Meredith about living there,” said Myers. “He used to go out and visit it because he had a lot of fond memories of living there as a kid.”
After Merkle personnel positioned the cabin, support beams were moved into place and then the entire structure was lowered down onto its new resting spot. Camp Clay has big ideas for the cabin as a place for people to stay overnight, with a sense of how things would have been like to live in the days the cabin was new. However, modern amenities have been added, including a second floor addition with a complete new roof; replaced chinking between the logs; a wrap around porch; a reconditioned floor; moderate electricity; an outdoor summer kitchen and restroom facilities; bunk beds and more.
Cabin project funded by the M.S. Foundation, Dominion Gas, Midwest Electric and Van Wert Centurions.
Information provided with assistance from Kirk Dougal, Times Bulletin Editor