June 28, 2017

Museum History

The Delphos Canal Commission is an outgrowth of a youth project put together in 1987 to raise a canal boat hull from the Miami and Erie Canal.  The Marguerite, built around 1856, had been abandoned in the waterway in the early 1900’s.  Fifty-seven young people, ages nine through eighteen, under the direction of a twelve year old, obtained the necessary permits from the Ohio Land Office, raised the nearly five thousand dollars and found the extensive variety of equipment necessary to remove the hull and place it in storage.

However, the mammoth cost of chemical preservation and the need for a permanent home for the hull were beyond the means of these boys and girls.  A decision was made to organize an historical and educational foundation whose purpose would be to create a canal museum in which the Marguerite could be displayed.  In 1989 the State of Ohio granted a non-profit charter.  That same year the organizers, approached to accept an entire wagon shop tool and parts inventory, decided to expand the goals of the Commission to include the commercial and industrial history of the “Canal Zone,” a twenty-mile long hydraulic stretch of the Miami and Erie Canal which has never been abandoned, never been drained.

In 1992 the Commission purchased its first major property, the old Commercial Bank building, and began setting up displays.  Early in 1994 the Delphos Historical Association collections were brought to the Museum Center where they were exhibited along with a reproduction log house and restored 1846 hewn barn.  With the move, all of Delphos’ rich history could be viewed in a single complex.

It soon became evident that more space was needed and early in 1996 the vacated Sundry Store (the old Grant store) next door was purchased.  Within 6 years, thanks to the generous donations of many people, the first floor and basement of this building became crowded and plans began to form for opening the second floor and installing a new elevator in the old shaft that existed.

Today there is a door connecting the two buildings on the second floor, new stairs have been built, and an elevator has been installed.   The exhibits have been reorganized with plenty of room for the Marguerite so she  finally has the home she deserves. After all, she started the whole thing.