We celebrated the 100th year anniversary of the Orchard Homes Country Life Club (OHCLC) in 2011, and we thought it would be interesting and appropriate to review some of the history behind the only remaining Country Life Club in the United States. (The 2nd to the last remaining CLC in Ohio closed its doors 50 years ago!)
In 1900, Samuel Dinsmore and R.M. Cobbin purchased 640 acres near present day 3rd Street and Reserve for $1.25 per acre. They subdivided the area into properties of about five to ten acres in size. Shortly thereafter, an irrigation ditch was built and the land in the new Orchard Homes area was sold for between $100 and $300 per acre.
There were few roads in the area, and the roads that did exist were in poor condition (some things haven’t changed in 100 years!). Transportation was by foot or horseback, and area youths desired a local setting for entertainment and socializing.
In 1906, the original building was constructed using volunteer labor and donated materials, on land donated by W.H. Warren. From 1906 to 1910, the only allowable use of the building was for religious services, causing the youths in the area to form the Orchard Homes Literary Society. They held meetings in an old log cabin on the Edward Miller property called the “Onion house.”
In 1908, President Teddy Roosevelt formed a Commission on Country Life, which started a movement encouraging ways to make country life more attractive. He believed that rural America was the “backbone of our nation,” but rural life was at risk due to the modernization of America and migration of people to the city.
By 1910, the Onion house was too crowded, and religious services were no longer being held at what was then known as the Orchard Homes Union Sunday School. The Literary Society members started a petition to make the building available for non religious events, and to join the Country Life movement started by President Roosevelt. Finally, in 1911, the club was incorporated as the Orchard Homes Country Life Club.