Sandstone Society honors Bent’s Hall on its 150th anniversary

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 26 April 2015 at 12:00 am

‘Landmark structure’ key to Medina’s growth in the late 19th Century

Photos by Tom Rivers – Robert Waters, president of the Medina Sandstone Society, speaks at the podium during an unveiling of a new stone historic marker for the Bent’s Hall, the building in the back. Others on the stage include, from left: Medina Mayor Andrew Meier, GCC professor Tracy Ford, Sandstone Society member Jacob Hebdon, Kathy Blackburn, Lynne Menz, GCC professor and Civil War Encampment Coordinator Derek Maxfield, and Chris Busch, chairman of the Orleans Renaissance Group.

MEDINA – As the Civil War was nearing its end, Don. C. Bent of Medina was preparing to open the Bent’s Hall, a three-story structure made of Medina sandstone at the corner of West Center and Main streets.

Bent acquired the land after a previous frame building burnt to ground on Oct. 7, 1863.

The new building included space for stores and offices, with an opera hall on the third floor. It opened to great fanfare on Feb. 28, 1865.

The building is mostly vacant now, but a group of preservationists are working to stabilize the building with plans to again have the site be bustling with businesses and a home to concerts and other performances.

On Saturday, the Medina Sandstone Society presented a historic marker made in sandstone to the owners of the building, the Orleans Renaissance Group.

Robert Waters, president of the Sandstone Society, thanked the ORG for working to bring back Bent’s Hall and not let the landmark structure fall into ruin.

Jake Hebdon, left, and Chris Busch remove the cover from the stone marker that commemorates the 150th anniversary of the end of the Civil War and the opening of Bent’s Hall – “This Grand Edifice.”

Waters spoke with many Civil War re-enactors gathered on Main Street in front of Bent’s. The events in Medina on Saturday – the unveiling of stone marker and a surrender ceremony to mark the end of the Civil War – was a celebration of “strength and durability,” said Waters, wearing a top hat.

“First, we salute our nation which rose from the Civil War stronger than ever and with growth in all directions,” he said. “Second, we honor this fine sandstone block provided by Don C. Bent giving early strength and movement for the growth of Medina. It was a landmark structure that led decade-by-decade to an entire commercial district of long-lasting stone and brick buildings. They still remain.”

Chris Busch, ORG chairman, thanks Robert Waters and the Sandstone Society for the marker.

The Orleans Renaissance Group last year completed important stabilization of the front corner of the building. The group needs to have the roof fixed and is working on plans for design and construction estimates for interior renovations at Bent’s Hall.

The Sandstone Society has presented several sandstone markers for historic sites and community efforts in recent years. The society wanted to show its support for ORG and its efforts with Bent’s.

“Thus the public will always know that Bent’s Hall is something special,” Waters said in unveiling the marker.

Chris Busch, chairman of the ORG, said the stone marker and the Bent’s building should remind Medina citizens, now and into the future, of the great sacrifices made by the community – serving in war and building enduring structures.