Avon

In approximately 90 days, the city-owned Avon Isle, 37080 Detroit Road, could be permanently placed on the National Register of Historic Places.

On Friday, members of the Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board voted to recommend the former Avon dance hall to the list, along with five other properties in Ohio.

“The final decision to add the property to the register is made by the National Park Service, which administers the program nationwide,” Kim Schuette, a representative from the Ohio Historic Preservation Office, wrote in a press release.

“Once it’s recommended, it’s fairly certain it will be placed on the National Register,” Schuette said in an interview.

It could take 45 days to three months before it becomes official, she added.

According to Schuette, for properties or districts to be eligible to be placed on the National Register, they must:

•be associated with events that have made a significant contribution to the broad patterns of our history; or

•be associated with the lives of people significant in our past; or

•embody the distinctive characteristics of a type, period, or method of construction, or represent the work of a master, or possess high artistic values, or represent a significant, distinguishable entity whose components may lack individual distinction (e.g. a historic district); or

•have yielded, or be likely to yield, information important in prehistory or history.

The press release notes, “For more than 50 years, Avon Isle served as the hub for recreational and social activities for Avon and surrounding communities. Built in 1926, it served as a dance hall until 1959 and then hosted community functions until the 1970s. The pavilion is architecturally intact and remains in its historic setting within Avon Isle Park. Avon Isle embodies the characteristics that make it an excellent representation of recreational dance pavilions associated with this early- to mid-20th-century America. During this time, social dancing was a major recreational and social activity. Avon Isle was one of hundreds of dance halls that sprang up early in the 20th century in Ohio. While many dance halls were built in proximity to newly popular amusement parks, Avon Isle never housed permanent amusement park rides. Its natural park-like setting may have contributed to its continued use and survival.”

As part of the process of being recommended to the National Register of Historic Places, a nomination application had to be turned into the United States Department of the Interior National Park Service. Avon Historical Society Vice President Ralph White took on the project of nominating Avon Isle. He had worked on the project for four years prior to last week’s recommendation, he said.

“It was so complicated I was almost to the point of giving up,” said White, who attended the Friday Ohio Historic Site Preservation Advisory Board meeting in Columbus. “They kept asking us for more information. I was really kind of like, ‘Man!’”

White said when the Ohio Historical Office moved its location, the Avon Isle application was delayed for almost a year.

“They were impressed with our oral histories,” he said of the information that was compiled by a local college graduate student. “For a structure of its kind, it was one of the best applications they had ever seen (they said). It made me feel good. I was really worried they were going to chew me up.”

White said he doesn’t expect to receive official notice of the placement on the National Register until June or July.

“They were impressed with the dance hall being a thing of the past and a small one in a small town like this still existing,” he said. “Ours has been sitting pretty much vacant for 20 years. If that had been private property, maybe it would have been torn down.”

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