Department of History
Interns in the News
Researchers looking for old photographs and memories
-From the Bowling Green Sentinel Tribune, 18 June, 2002, pages 1&5, by Jan Larson, Sentinel County Editor
The history of the century-old Wood County Courthouse extends far beyond its think stone walls. Local history experts suspect much of the history is tacked in old photo albums or tucked away in people's memories.
This summer, they would like those memories to be recorded for future generations - before the details are lost forever.
The courthouse has long been known for its ornate architecture.
" It is a marker of the oil boom at the turn of the century, with its opulence and grandeur of the time." said Becky Dutton, a graduate student from Bowling Green State University who is spending her summer internship researching the courthouse and old county jail for the Wood County Historical Society.
Her job is to shake lose some memories about the historic structures.
" We want to talk to anyone who worked there or was interred there (in the old jail). Anything that could reconstruct the history of Wood County," Dutton said. "It's just a matter of getting these people to come out of the woodwork."
Many of the historical details about the structures are scattered throughout the county - at the historical center, in the archival center at BGSU and in several personal scrapbooks. Of great interest to Dutton is the interior of the courthouse prior to its renovation in 1979-1980.
" We have a lot of basic facts, but not a lot of historical memory of the building," she said, adding that the interior of the courthouse has changed greatly during a century of renovations. "We really have very little idea of what the interior looked like."
At one time, prior to the construction of the neighboring county office building, the courthouse housed all the county offices. It remains an example of beautiful architecture, said Dutton, who was surprised by the building's grandeur when she first viewed it.
" I was really overwhelmed," she said, not expecting such an ornate courthouse in a small city like Bowling Green "I didn't expect to see this amazing architecture. It's really a beautiful building."
Wood County Commissioner Tim Brown, who is chairman of the courthouse buildings and grounds committee, said Dutton's research may dig up some interesting details about the historic structures.
" It seems like we're always uncovering things about the past," Brown said, "To me, it's very interesting.
The research could prove helpful in the future when the buildings undergo more renovations, perhaps allowing the site to reflect more of its turn-of-the-century history, Brown added. And it may provide insight into the county's past.
" The best roadmap we have for the future is the past, to show us where we've been," he said.
Dutton agreed that preserving the past is important.
" If we lose sight of where we're been, we lost sight of the future," she said, "We can't appreciate everything we have if we don't understand how we got it."
Dutton's research is scheduled to be completed by Aug. 20, when all the county commissioners from the state will be visiting Wood County and will be