The seventeenth Ohio National Road Interpretive sign was unveiled on September 26, 2011. The sign, commemorating the former AT& T building, is located in Miami County at the SW corner of US Rt. 40 and St. Rt. 202 in Phoneton (Tipp City PO), OH 45371. The building was once a three-story structure but is now just one floor, as pictured here.
Shown is ONRA’s recent-past President Cyndie Gerken, who served as the ceremony’s emcee, beside the Ohio National Road Interpretive sign waiting unveiling. It is installed near the northwest corner of the original building, located at 4440 US Rt. 40, with ample parking available for easy access to the sign.
Cyndie Gerken welcomed a nice crowd including current and former Phoneton residents. Among the attendees (variously pictured) were Phonetonites Connie Masin, Melissa Watts, and Nauveta Adams (with her daughter Lisa Bratton). Also, former AT&T employee (the late) Ray Parson’s granddaughters Phyllis Schindler and her sister Janet (and husband Donald) Taylor were there, as was Gene Reaver, Jeff Carskadden, Chester Bigos, Myrtle Wells, former Bethel Local School official Bill Berry, Don Heffner, Leonard Allen (who had lived as a boy in an apartment on the building’s second floor), Miami County Visitors Bureau’s Tourism Manager Kay Hamilton, and ONRA members Bonnie and Randy Young.
Representing the Bethel Township Historical Society (BTHS), Dave Fisher (who was recently re-appointed as a Trustee to the ONRA Board) spoke of Phoneton’s situation on the National Road at its intersection with the Old Troy Pike (Now SR 202) and of its connection with the Wright Brothers.
Some of Wilbur and Orville Wright’s ancestors, including their great-uncle and Revolutionary War soldier Dan Wright, are buried nearby in Bethel East Cemetery, located on St. Rt. 202 at the south edge of Phoneton.
Bethel Township Trustee Jerry Hirt remarked about the building’s history as a major center of communications for the region from 1893 to 1936. In subsequent years the first floor of the building and annex served as a warehouse for Longo’s Spaghetti, as home to Brumbaugh Ice Cream (who made the ice cream there and delivered it door-to-door), and as the site of Five-Star Meats which did custom butchering and had meat lockers for rent in the building. The second floor was rented as apartments.
The Phoneton Interpretive sign was unveiled by (left to right): BTHS Vice President Dave Fisher, ONRA President Dean Ringle, building owner Linda Moroney, and Bethel Township Trustee Jerry Hirt.
Linda Moroney (shown here left to right with Dave Fisher, Dean Ringle, and Jerry Hirt) inherited the former AT&T property from her father, B.P. (Benny) Gardner who also owned a gas station and cabin camp that was just west of this building on US Rt. 40 (the National Road). Mr. Gardner had the building’s second and third floors removed in the late 1970s after leaks in the roof had caused irreparable damage.
A brief reception and tours of the remaining original section of the building were held following the ceremony. This was a good opportunity for the “old timers” to share and reminisce. ONRA also had a display table (shown here) showcasing promotional and fund-raising items.
The Ohio National Road Association Board was represented at the unveiling by (left to right): Miami County representative Dave Fisher, Montgomery County rep Paul Seibel, Miami County rep and ONRA recent-past President Cyndie Gerken, and Franklin County rep and ONRA President Dean Ringle.