Barnesville Centennial booklet reprinted

Staff Report
A Barnesville Centennial Souvenir book profiling prominent homes in 1908, recently reprinted by the Watt Center for History and the Arts, is now available for purchase.

In 1908, during Barnesville’s 100th birthday celebration, a popular souvenir was a booklet profiling the town’s rise to prominence. And what better way to promote a growing, successful, and progressive community than to photograph over 125 of the town’s large residences consisting of the popular architectural styles of that era. Also featured in the book were churches, schools, the Children’s Home, and a few street and industrial scenes.

Now 112 years later, the Watt Center for History and the Arts is reissuing the booklet with major improvements and additions. This reprint keeps alive the rich history of Barnesville making it possible to imagine the town as it appeared in 1908, an important part of the mission of the organization.

Special thanks to Belmont County Tourism’s grant program that helped fund the project and the hard work of Watt Center members and volunteers whose efforts resulted in an updated and expanded index.

An original copy of the 1908 book was electronically scanned resulting in digitally sharpened images. Using the index created for the Junior Women’s Club’s 1983 reprint at the town’s 175th celebration as a starting point, indexed name spellings were corrected. A person's name might be stated several times and spelled in two or three different ways in the main text. Such names have now been consolidated under a single "correct" name in the index, using actual grave markers, in most cases, as the ultimate arbiter of name spellings.

Volunteers discovered at least eight of the photos in the original booklet were mirror-image reversed, an easy mistake to make when dealing with photo negatives. Those images have been digitally corrected in the new release.

Another major improvement is a street-by-street list of the houses pictured in the booklet with address numbers. Some 91 of the original 127 structures photographed in 1908 still exist and were located, although a few houses eluded the Watt history detectives.

Centennial Souvenir 1808-1908 Barnesville, Belmont County, Ohio, an 11 x 8.5 inch softbound 84-page publication, goes on sale this week for $20 each at three downtown locations – Avenues of Barnesville, Barnesville Antique Mall, and the Barnesville Area Chamber of Commerce office.

Mailed copies also cost $20. Address orders to: Watt Center, P.O. Box 463, Barnesville, OH 43713 and make checks payable to The Watt Center.

Books may also be picked up at the Watt Center, 511 Watt Avenue, from 3-6 pm on the following monthly Wednesday meeting dates: Sept.9, Oct 14 and Nov. 11.

Each book purchase will include access to a colorful set of 90 online side-by-side 1908-to-2020 comparison pictures of homes and buildings then and now – 88 showing structures still standing, and two in memory of homes recently demolished.