The identification on the back of this “Then” photo says “Peoples Bank Building, Woodstock, Ohio organized in 1906,” 110 years ago. By the style of the car, this photo may have been taken most likely when the bank closed in 1933, than when it opened. What is readable on the windows is “Notary Public” and U. S. Post Office, Woodstock, Ohio. A Sohio Gasoline pump stands at the edge of the sidewalk outside some kind of retail store and the outline of Ohio road signage is distinguishable by its shape for a state route, along what is now called 559. It seems that the need for an electric traffic light had already been deemed necessary in Woodstock and a street light. A “modern” car for that day is parked in a “head facing in” position. (Head in parking is rarely used these days because of the additional road way clearance required and the problem with safely backing out into the street traffic going at faster speeds than back then. Pulling into a parking space certainly was easier than parallel parking but now they have cars that parallel park themselves!)
According to “A Tour of the Past,” a 1970 Woodstock Centennial Program Booklet, “The Peoples Bank was organized in May 1906. The first officers were D. R. Kimball, pres., W. C. Fullington, vice pres., S. F. Burnham, cashier. W. C. Kimball, C.P. Kimball, F.G. Fullington, O.M. Clark, and George Hann were the first directors. In 1906, the bank erected a brick building on the northeast corner of the square, containing four business rooms on the lower floor, besides the quarters for the bank, and a large hall for public gatherings on the second floor. The bank closed in 1933.”
This source also reveals that free movies were shown on the second floor in the winter and it told of an account of people roller skating upstairs in the bank building, and at the end of the night their hair was white with resin dust from the floor. Research time constrains finding the history of all the uses of this building since 1933. If you are interested in seeing the attractive Woodstock Post Office Postal Window and mailboxes that came out of this building, and are presently in the possession of, and on display at, the Champaign County Historical Society Museum, stop by at 809 East Lawn Ave., Urbana, Ohio. No doubt this sturdy brick structure has served many businesses since 1933 in addition to being the former location of the Post Office before the government moved for supposedly better service facilities. Additional information from the “Tour of the Past” is quoted, “An attempt was made to name the village Smithville, then New Albany, finally Hartford was decided upon. Later it was found that there was another town and post office in the state by that name, and the name was changed to Woodstock (from Woodstock, Vt., by way of Woodstock, Oxfordshire, England.) Some in the area in the past have referred to it as ‘Mudstock.’”
“Now” the 2016 photograph, taken of the same building, on the same street corner, of Woodstock, Ohio, shows a modernization of two sets of traffic lights being used for the same intersection of Ohio Route 559 and Urbana-Woodstock Pike. This was sometimes referred to as “Four Corners,” but to residents it is the corner of Main and Bennett streets. The lower windows of the former bank building have now been covered over with paneling, for privacy perhaps, with a vent in one, and a smaller windows in others. Three signs are readable, two identifying “Woodstock Bar and Grill” and one “Woodstock Pizza Shop.” There is no more “Sohio” gasoline or gasoline for sale here. (That company was sold to British Petroleum.) There is no more banking at this location, and the parking is only safe to park parallel along the curb. The day the photo was taken, there was a great deal of through traffic but not many, if any, cars parked along the streets.
The structure may need a little bit of upkeep as all new or old buildings require, but this brick still stands tall and occupies a central location in the village of Woodstock, located on a heavily traveled byway. “Then” and “Now” overall appearances sometimes change dramatically and sometimes look quite a bit the same. The street lights are still burning in the village of Woodstock, the general area was first divided into lots of 100 acres for new settlers in 1819, with a village laid out in 1832. In 1870 the villagers voted to incorporate and by 1900 it was a bustling small village.
This village has lived two lives. Again quoting from the “Tour of the Past,” two different views, one written by Grace Carter Martin in 1944 (having come here as a child in April 1898), and one written in 1970 by the editor of the program booklet Betty C. Oberdier. Carter says, “(April 1898) There were no electric lights, no telephones and of course no automobiles. But Woodstock had two hotels, two livery stables, two or three saloons, a millinery shop or two, four or five general stores, two barber shops, three blacksmith shops – fewer houses perhaps, but more people than today” (1944). Oberdier says in 1970, “The village has lived a quiet and unpretentious life, never aspiring to metropolitan honors, never deluding itself with the idea that it would be more than a village. Like all villages, it has had its ups and downs, its share of lean years and its share of fat years. It has seen many worthy people go out from its precincts and many others make their homes within them. It has been proud of its schools; cherished its churches; it has patronized its home-industries, as much as possible; in all things, it has been true to the genuine village type. Village residents will, in all probability, be spared the riots and violence now occurring in the large metropolitan areas and Woodstock will continue to be a quiet, peaceful, and comfortable village in which to live.”
The coming of the automobile may have been what changed Woodstock and many other Champaign County villages to what some call “bedroom communities.” We no longer need what we need close at hand, as long as we have a car to jump into and gasoline to run it. The automobile allows us to go miles away to buy what we need. What do you think?
Submitted by the Champaign County Historical Society.