Thursday, September 6th, 2007
By Margie Wuebker
Large grant to allow building of historic dream
  NEW BREMEN - The dream of building a lock tender's house with a canal museum on the west bank of the Miami and Erie Canal will become reality thanks to an Ohio Department of Transportation enhancement grant.
ODOT representatives announced today the New Bremen project has been approved for $479,600 during the 2010-2011 budget cycle. Thirteen projects will receive a total of $7.3 million in federal funds to highlight Ohio's rich transportation history and revitalize scenic streetscapes in smaller communities.
The New Bremen Historic Association will provide $90,000 in matching money. The association has asked village officials to cover the costs of restroom facilities on the exposed basement level.
"This really completes the Lock One project," Village Administrator Wayne York said this morning shortly after receiving news of the community's selection. "It is truly the finishing touch."
The house will serve as a welcome center with the Southwestern Auglaize County Chamber of Commerce and the Miami and Erie Canal Corridor Association moving their offices to the site. In addition, the historic association will move its canal-related memorabilia to the site for a second-floor museum complete with self-guided tours and self-explanatory exhibits.
"Having the chamber express an intention to relocate there was a critical component of our proposal," York added. "It means someone will be there at least 40 hours a week."
The handicapped-accessible building, equipped with an elevator, will feature a third-floor meeting room to accommodate the meetings of various community boards and organizations. York indicated there is a possibility village council sessions could be held there in the future.
"This is another great addition to the canal work here," Mayor Jeff Pape said this morning. "Bricks and landscaping currently underway will lead directly to this site."
Plans call for the 24-by-44-foot structure to be built southwest of Monroe Street (state Route 274) and Washington Street (state Route 66). The location near the canal wing wall is where the original lock tender's house once stood.
Association members have done considerable research to ensure the new building resembles the old one as closely as possible right down to the brick and limestone exterior. Vinyl siding with a rustic look will hold maintenance costs down.
The original house deteriorated over the years, with the New Bremen-German Township Fire Department burning it down during a training session in the late 1960s.
"The exterior will look much the same as the old place," association member and village councilor Delores Stienecker told The Daily Standard for an earlier story. "However, people coming up the canal will not find sleeping rooms for 50 cents a night as they did in bygone days."
The village initially received a $280,000 ODOT enhancement grant for the Lock One restoration project with the historic association contributing $70,000 toward restoring the once-vital transportation link to its 1910 prominence. Work commenced in June 2006 with the price tag gradually increasing to $1.5 million dredging and other projects were added along the way.
Landscaping work is currently underway at the site as the old parking lot is removed and brick pavers installed. Gas lights reminiscent of the canal era and decorative poles with roping will complete the look.
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