ODC History
 

History Years of the Ohio District Council Campground
By The Late Bishop Francis L. Smith

Early records of the Ohio District Council as an organization shows it’s origin being October 7, 1925; and it was organized under the Ohio General Not-For-Profit Corporation Acts. However, the Ohio District Council Campground did not start out to be a campground. The late Bishop Fred Clark, who was the Diocesan of the state of Ohio, was a tenderhearted man who hated the idea of the aged saints being sent to what was then known as “Old Folks Homes.” In most parts of the state these institutions provided terrible accommodations, odors, and treatment of the clients. This prompted Bishop Clark to wage a campaign to find a place to establish a rest home for the saints where they would be treated with more love and respect. He also envisioned a place where they could practice their form of worship without interference.

In 1938 the Ohio District Council, through Bishop Clark, purchased a farm at Green, Ohio, which is north of Warren, Ohio. There was a stately farmhouse and other structures on the property and plenty of space for gardening to raise food for the home. However, the remoteness of the location did not lean itself to attracting the aged saints or their families to the site.

In 1944 Bishop Arthur William Lewis, who pastored in Cleveland, Ohio, while traveling along state route 40 came across the Washington Heights Motor Hotel formerly known as the Wick hotel. It was an older facility located three miles east of the city of Zanesville, Ohio, and it was for sale! Bishop Lewis told Bishop Fred Clark about the property, which in turn called District Elder Ralph Bass of Dayton, Ohio and Bishop Karl F. Smith of Columbus, Ohio to go with him to look at the property.

It turned out that the property had been repossessed and was being held by a bank. They wanted to sell the property for nineteen-thousand dollars, the outstanding amount on the original mortgage. The two-story motel was complete with a kitchen, dining room, twenty-three lodging rooms and it sat on a tract of land bordering the U.S. 40 National Highway. The one hundred forty seven acre tract of land had its own water supply and a flowing natural gas well. There were also detached garages for travelers’ cars. Toward the rear of the property was a barn left from the days when it had been a farm.

The brethren were so impressed with the possibility of having a rest home in such a convenient location that they chipped in their personal funds to raise one thousand dollars on the spot to give the bank as earnest money. The bank took the property off the market and gave the Ohio District Council one year to raise the balance. The banker later confessed that he did not think they could produce the necessary funds and expected to pocket their earnest money as profit.

Bishop Clark turned the task of raising the money over to a sister in his church by the name of Ida Metcalf. Her plans were simple. She visited all of the Ohio District Council churches and requested that each member set aside ten cents a week to be turned in at each Council session. This plan was executed with such success that at the end of eleven months, approximately July 1944, one month early, the men walked into the bank and laid down eighteen thousand dollars ($18.000) and took possession of the property; to the amazement of the banker.

The property in Green, Ohio was disposed of and the few saints were transferred to the new location in Zanesville. A sister from Bishop Clark’s church in Warren, Ohio, whose name has been lost to time, was the matron of the new home.

In 1947 Elder and Sister Jarvis moved to Zanesville from Oberlin, Ohio and became the managers of the property. Elder Jarvis erected a small house near the barn that he and his family occupied for several years.

In 1955, after talking about it for some time, it was decided to start a campground. With the assistance of men from various parts of the state a one-story frame Tabernacle with a flat roof and dirt floor covered with gravel was erected. The July session of the Ohio District Council was held there with members staying in some of the cheaper motels and in homes of the saints. Meals were served in the Rest Home dining room; some of the auxiliary meetings were held there; and for several years the Pastors' meeting was held under a large oak tree near the east end of the Rest Home.

In 1958 a metal pole building was erected beside the Tabernacle and equipped to serve as a dining room. At the rear end of the pole building there was a division equipped with wash basins, shower stalls and toilet stools.

Council attendance had flourished, and after the July session was over there were two weeks of camping for young people and children. Many youth were introduced to salvation during those council sessions; and the numbers grew so that it became necessary to think about expansion.

It was decided to add a second story to the Tabernacle building for lodging. Elder Royal Haines drew up plans; and the men of the state were again called upon to build. By that time the State of Ohio had instituted an inspection department that regulated buildings in rural areas, and consequently an inspector saw us at work and stopped us because his department had not approved our plans. We were told that the frame structure was oversized and therefore we would not be allowed to put in any sort of heating plant. Elder Haines and Elder Francis L. Smith (Late Bishop Francis Smith) were commissioned to go to Columbus and get the necessary approval and permits; and after considerable frustration we finally were allowed to complete the building with some modification.

The Council sessions continued to enlarge, and after several years of putting up with bugs, moths, mosquitoes and other invaders it was decided to build another Tabernacle to seat six hundred; east of the old Tabernacle. This was done in 1963-64. The next addition was a large metal dormitory building that housed approximately two hundred people on cots. This building was equipped with bathrooms and air-conditioning.

When the first Tabernacle was built, a section of ground was laid out for the erection of cottages. The lots were leased to individuals; but the cottages were available for ownership. Elder and Sister Haines built a cottage on the property, as did Bishop Karl F. Smith, Bishop Ralph Bass and Elder Harvey Bland of Warren. Those properties could be left to relatives or sold back to the Ohio District Council. When a nurse was hired to be over the Nursing Home, part of the agreement was to build her a cottage. When the time came that she was no longer able to serve, the cottage was converted to an administration office.

In 1963 a twenty-five-bed facility was added to the Rest Home; which changed its status to an Intermediate Care Nursing Home.

In 1973, under the leadership of Chairman Bishop Bowers, plans were made to build a new Nursing Home around the older buildings. A loan was received from the Federal Farm and Home Administration for 1.8 million dollars to remodel and build a first class Skilled Care Nursing Home. That facility provided one hundred beds, therapy rooms, a chapel, nursing stations, and all of the amenities that go with such a structure. The Ohio District Council sold approximately seven acres to the Ohio District Council Nursing Home, Inc.; a separate corporation wholly owned by the Ohio District Council of Pentecostal Churches, Inc.
The Nursing Home has been a great blessing to the Ohio District Council and its membership, and to the community of Zanesville. Many souls have been saved by being brought under the influence of the gospel in Chapel services and private counseling. Brother and Sister John Tate remodeled and lived in the old farmhouse at the rear of the Nursing Home and Sister Tate canned many types of food from her garden to help feed the members of the home. Contributions from the Nursing Home to the Ohio District Council have helped with the expansion of the campground’s buildings and infrastructure. The Nursing Home, which maintains a very high occupancy rate, continues to enjoy great favor and success as a business.

In the late 1970’s the Ohio District Council decided to erect a new Tabernacle. The site that was chosen was elevated high above all of the other buildings. A loan was obtained and the twelve-hundred seat auditorium with a one-hundred seat side room, restrooms and foyer was erected. That structure is heated and air-conditioned so that it can be used in any season. The July sessions of the Ohio District Council are held at the campground; and in later months hundreds of youth attend the camp from as far away as Chicago, Illinois. What joyful times have been had on these grounds as souls were saved, reclaimed, revived and inspired.

In the 1980’s the Ohio District Council erected a four-hundred seat cafeteria fully equipped and air-conditioned.

Previous administrators of the Nursing Home were Elder Royal Haines and District Elder Frank McDonald; Elder Nathan McDonald is the current administrator. Previous administrators of the campground were Elder Royal Haines, Elder James Gregory, and Elder James Gaiters; Brother James McDonald is the current administrator. Some of the memorable names that have been associated with the Nursing Home and the Campground are as follows: Bishop and Sister Fred Clark, Sister Metcalf, Bishop Ralph Bass, Bishop Karl F. Smith, Sister Spellman, Sister Carolyn Andrews, Elder and Sister Jarvis, and designated members that were under the pastorates of District Elder Frank McDonald and Elder James Gaiters. Other memorable names were District Elder and Sister Charles Reid, Sister Mary Patterson, Brother Hubert Carney of Steubenville, Ohio, Bishop Chester R. Lee, and Brother Mitchell.

Elder Charles Reid served as President of the State Brotherhood for many years. During his reign he would faithfully martial the men together to clean the grounds, pave walkways, and prepare the grounds for shutdown in the fall. District Elder Charles Reid passed the mantel of leadership to Elder Vernon Williams who lead the men for a number of years. The mantel was then passed to Elder Howard Collier, and during his reign the steps were added to the front of the Tabernacle. Brother Lloyd Stewart was credited with doing most of the concrete work on the grounds. Throughout the years the State Brotherhood has played a major role in the beautification of the campground. Various auxiliaries throughout the state raised money for different projects: first for the Ohio District Council Nursing Home, and later for the Ohio District Council Campground.

Although the Ohio District Council didn't have an auspicious beginning, it is apparent that the Lord’s favor has been upon His children: for today the Ohio District Council Campground along with the Ohio District Council Nursing Home is worth more than six-million dollars.

The State of Ohio routed Interstate 70 through our land severing seventy-four acres to the north from the remaining forty-one acres of the campsite. The land that is located north of I-70 has been a valuable resource; providing strip-mining and timber to sell. At present its gas wells are providing mineral rights royalties to the Ohio District Council. With the help of the Lord the day will come when the great Ohio District Council will expand the camp facilities to some of that land as well.

 

 

 

 

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