Beall Avenue Tour
Explore historic homes and churches on this major artery that runs through the College of Wooster.
The current location of the College of Wooster’s Office of Campus Interfaith Ministries was built in 1874 as the house of Colonel Aquila Wiley, a Civil War Colonel. It’s extensive history as a building survived numerous sales -- including one in 1882 to the Overholt family, the owners until 1974 -- it even survived threatened demolition in 1981.
Walking around the campus of the College of Wooster today, the tan castle-like style known as “Collegiate Gothic” seems like a college standard. But this was not always so -- Holden Hall, built in 1906 and 1907, is the College’s first dormitory example of the style that has become a standard of other College buildings, such as Douglass, Andrews, and Armington Halls located to the northwest.
The dormitory itself is named after Louis E. Holden, who was president of the College at the time of its construction. Today, it is Wooster’s largest dormitory.
When fifteen Scottish and Irish settlers gathered in a home on West Liberty Street in 1815 they probably couldn't have imagined what their small Presbyterian congregation would become. In 1848, as the congregation grew in number, land for the second church building at the corner of North Walnut and West North Streets was donated. In 1927, the cornerstone for a neo-gothic building was laid at the corner of College Ave and East Bowman Street, where the church still currently stands. Members were heavily involved in the establishment of the College of Wooster in 1866. Church member Ephraim Quinby gave 20 acres to the college and became one of the first trustees, while another church member and later college trustee, John Kauke, provided funds for an early classroom building. This classroom developed into an iconic structural symbol for the college and carries Kauke’s name.
St. Mary of the Immaculate Conception Catholic Church:
Before St. Mary’s Catholic Church moved to its current location, it rested on a hill, south of downtown, on Madison Ave. Built in 1847, the church was a two story brick building with ceilings 20 feet high. After the civil war the congregation erected a school house with 90 pupils in attendance. The curriculum mirrored that of a public school but added the element of spiritual education. This tradition of spiritual development paired with educational development is one that has continued up until today. St. Mary’s has two parish schools and is part of the Diocese of Cleveland school system.
Beall House & Wayne County Historical Society:
This historic house, the oldest still standing in Wooster, is currently under restoration by the Wayne County Historical Society.
Reasin Beall was originally from Maryland. As a military officer, he served in many campaigns against Native Americans, including in 1793 under General Anthony Wayne with the rank of battalion-adjutant. Eight years later, he would resign from the military and would live in both Pennsylvania and Ohio. He would later serve again as brigadier general of Ohio volunteers during the War of 1812, helping to secure America’s northwest frontier.
Before moving to Wooster in 1815, Beall would assume charge of the sale of public lands at auction under the Land Act of 1800. The Act, which helped to settle land ownership in many parts of Ohio, sold land at several “land offices” throughout the state. In 1816, the land office in Canton was moved to Wooster, where over $900,000 worth of land would be sold at auction, 75% of the total land for sale.
August Imgard House:
The Most Famous Christmas Tree in Ohio
August Imgard was a young German immigrant in 1847. According to legend, he was so disappointed by the lack of German Christmas traditions in his new homeland that he brought one along with him: the Christmas tree.
The north window in the front of the house supposedly hosted Imgard’s first Christmas tree that same year. German immigrants -- who represented the bulk of Wooster’s population at the time -- reportedly flocked to this window on Christmas Eve night, inspired to do the same in their own houses.
Eager devotees of Wooster history may be disappointed to find out that the claim that Imgard brought the first Christmas tree to the United States has been discredited by later historians, but the legend still remains. To this day, a Christmas tree is placed on Imgard’s grave in the Wooster Cemetery every Christmas.
Read more in the Wooster’s German Legacy exhibit on the Wooster Digital History Project website.
Continue west down Bowman Street to begin our Founder’s Row Tour.