Waterville Historical Society
Since 1964 the Waterville Historical Society has played an important role in the Village of Waterville, designated a city in 2012. Thirty-four citizens interested in preserving the rich history of their town, drew up a constitution and obtained nonprofit status. Artifacts and memorabilia were donated for display on the second floor of a commercial building. Meetings were held in churches and members' homes. With a larger membership in 1981, the society purchased a historic house on River Road for $10,000. Fundraising and renovation took more than five years, and the 1838 Robbins House museum opened to the public in 1986. After a capital fund drive and a $10,000 matching grant, the society purchased the 1834 house next door, and the Sargent House museum opened in 1992. In 1997 WHS saved Wakeman Hall. Some of the activities of this all-volunteer organization, in addition to fund-raising projects and saving and restoring historic buildings are:
• Offer free public programs on topics of area history
• Hold museum open houses and guided walking tours of the historic district
• Host Waterville Third Graders' field trips for museum visits and walking tours
• Sponsor Eighth Grade local history essay contests and museum tours
• Had several Historic House Tours and award plaques for historic houses
• Published eight books on local history and publish three newsletters a year
• Participate in Waterville's annual Roche de Boeuf Day Festival with Pioneer Arts demonstrations, silent auction, Attic Treasures Sale, book sales, music, etc.
• Hold Ice Cream Socials in conjunction with Waterville Library's Music in the Park and Browning Community Center's Car Shows and Road Rallies
• Held Founder's Day Celebrations
• Obtained two Ohio Historical Markers
• Schoolmarm Suitcase Museum program offered to schools and organizations
• Established an archives for historic research and genealogy
• Hold annual Christmas Dinner Party for members and friends
• Membership in Ohio Local History Alliance and hosted the meeting in 2002
In 2014 the society celebrated its 50th anniversary with special events every month and was awarded an Ohio Historical Society Historical Marker commemorating the society on one side and the 1881 Wakeman Hall on the other. It was installed April 27 at the base of the outside entry steps with a dedication ceremony that included three commendations: one from the State of Ohio signed by Governor John Kasich, another from the Ohio Historical Society and a third presented by Senator Randy Gardner from the General Assembly of the State of Ohio.
Two other historical markers were awarded to the society. The 1908 interurban bridge was commemorated on one side and the historic landmark Roche de Boeuf which supports it on the other. It was dedicated at Farnsworth Metropark on Roche de Boeuf Day in 2001. Another marker was awarded by the Ohio Historical Society in the Bicentennial year of 2003 and installed in Pray Park. One side commemorated the founder of Waterville, John Pray, and the opposite side the Miami and Erie Canal.
The Waterville Historical Society Foundation under the umbrella of the Toledo Community Foundation was created recently to facilitate charitable giving to be used for future preservation and care of the society's properties.