Longtime Centerville group supporting Benham’s Grove disbands

Credit: FILE

Credit: FILE

CENTERVILLE – A longtime group supporting one of the city’s historic sites has dissolved.

The Friends of Benham’s Grove is a volunteer organization that started in the 1990s, a few years after the city of Centerville bought the property. The group helped preserve land around the North Main Street farmhouse, built by Joseph A. Benham in the mid-1880s, and at its peak had about 50 to 60 members, according to the city.

The organization disbanded in October, city officials said.

“Over many years, the Friends of Benham’s Grove made great contributions to the city, including donating funds for the sign that greets visitors along Main Street,” Centerville City Manager Wayne Davis said in a statement.

Centerville has more than 160 volunteers, but “interest has steadily dwindled for this particular group, however, and (city) council opted to move forward in the interest of the community’s time and resources,” Davis added. “The city is evaluating what needs remain, and will incorporate these responsibilities into other functions.”

The city acquired the land in 1991 and renovated its facilities, which opened the following year as a community gathering place.

Since then, Benham’s Grove has become a popular site for weddings, receptions, graduations, holiday parties, art shows, fairs and festivals, among other activities.

Among its features are the Gerber house, cottage, barn and gazebo, according to its website.

Benham’s Grove is on land originally part of a 50-acre farm owned by Aaron Nutt, one of the founding fathers of Centerville. A later owner of the farm, Lawson Allen, sold the 10-acre tract that would become Benham’s Grove in 1843, according to its website.

A year later, Benham, prominent Centerville merchant, acquired the property at an auction.

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