Second stories contain Sandusky's hidden history

SANDUSKY These buried treasures are not found underground. Above a row of shops on th
Sandusky Register Staff
May 24, 2010

SANDUSKY

These buried treasures are not found underground.

Above a row of shops on the 100 block of East Market Street rests a once-bustling ballroom that has now quieted with time.

Carefully carved two-tone wooden doors open to a spacious ballroom and balcony with its original wood floors still intact.

The room is in need of some ceiling repair, but still has many possibilities.

"I could see a dinner club, comedy club, theater club -- all kinds of things," said Stuart Bertsch, owner of the building.

A black upright piano still stands on the sun-lit stage. Though dusty and out-of-tune, it conjures images of the melodies and memories made in the old ballroom.

Though it is unique in its own ways, the ballroom is certainly not one-of-a-kind.

Above many downtown buildings are historic spaces that have been left untouched for decades.

John Lippus, executive director of the Sandusky Main Street Association, said much of the visible damage is to the surface, not the actual structure of the buildings. Many of these structures hold a lot of potential to be refurbished and redeveloped, he said.

Along Washington Row, above the Chamber of Commerce and a local law firm, is another meeting hall with an odd history.

The spacious third floor of the building is the former home of the International Order of Odd Fellows.

"This is where the International Order of Odd Fellows would have their monthly meetings," Lippus said.

The letters I.O.O.F. can still be seen along the top of the building from Washington Row.

The Odd Fellows organization began as a traveling laborers association in England during the Industrial Revolution and was later established in the U.S.

The tall, dust-painted windows of the room overlook the Washington Parks.

The stage was likely occupied by podiums and performers like. Along the walls of the room are rows of metal chairs that have begun to rust.

Lippus said there are grants and government funding available for developers who will fix up the buildings in compliance with historical standards. Restoring an old building can be costly, but owners can sometimes qualify for tax credits, Lippus added.