First community village unveils renovations to cooler that used to be on the Miller Farm

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An icehouse that dates back to the community’s earliest days is now slated to be an event center and gathering place for First Community Village residents, following the completion of a $100,000 renovation.

About a year after announcing that the Elford Foundation of Elford Inc. had donated $100,000 to restore and upgrade an icehouse built in 1860 on the farm of Upper Arlington’s first mayor, James T. Miller, First Community representatives Village celebrated the completion of the project on July 12.

The facility, located on FCV’s 25-acre campus at 1800 Riverside Drive, is now slated to be another relaxing spot for FCV campus residents. It is also envisioned to be a place where the retirement community can hold activities such as music on the lawn, barbecues, wine tastings, birthdays and luncheons.

Eventually, it could become a small event destination that FCV could rent out or allow access for private events, like parties or wedding receptions.

Mark Ricketts, president and CEO of National Church Residences, the faith-based nonprofit that owns FCV, said a key driver of the project was the celebration of the Miller Farm and the preservation of the one of Upper Arlington’s most historic landmarks.

“We believe this is the oldest structure in Upper Arlington,” Ricketts said. “The main goal was just to keep it functional. …and to preserve that history.

“The second factor, for seniors, is providing places to gather and have fun. When you give up your single family home and your yard and your garden and all that stuff like that, you really don’t want to lose your greenery You don’t want to lose your life from the outside in. This campus is built for indoor and outdoor living, and places like this feel like a garden .

Mike Fitzpatrick, President of Elford Inc., and Kristin Greenberg, Executive Director of the Upper Arlington Historical Society, talk about repairing this light at First Community Village, which was one of Upper Arlington's first streetlights.  The light would have been part of the streets of Upper Arlington around 1915.

Improvements to the cooler included the addition of a new roof, restrooms, stairs, paint and landscaping.

The work was fully funded by a $100,000 gift from the Elford Foundation.

The foundation and Elford Inc. have deep ties to FCV, Elford President Mike Fitzpatrick said, noting that he is an Upper Arlington resident and his grandfather, Thomas C. “TC” Fitzpatrick, spent his last years at FCV.

“I was born and raised in Upper Arlington and have a lot of family members who live here,” Fitzpatrick said. “Many of my friends’ parents and grandparents enjoyed their senior years here and stayed in the family and community because they still lived in our neighborhood. That was certainly the case when my grandfather lived here. .

“I think they’re doing a great job of continuing to invest while honoring history and taking care of (campus) trees and landscaping. This project is a part of their campus that brings together people.Families have birthday parties and graduation parties here.Seniors gather here and have fun together.

When FCV officials announced plans for the icehouse’s renovation last June, Melanie Circle Brown, then executive director of the Upper Arlington Historical Society, said the icehouse was potentially the oldest structure in Upper Arlington. and “one of the last remaining parts of the Miller farm”. ” on the campus.

Historical society records indicate that for many summers the cooler was filled with ice cut from the Scioto River and packed in sawdust.

According to records, the ice cream lasted all summer, and family members of farm owner James T. Miller “threw memorable ice cream parties on the lawn.”

Fitzpatrick said the addition of restrooms should make the cooler a more accommodating facility, and he’s glad it continues the tradition of being a place for families and friends to gather and have fun.

“It’s a really spectacular place on this campus,” he said. “I know there will be lots of events and happy hours held here for residents and their families.”

The ice house project is the first of 15 memorial areas on the FCV campus that NCR hopes to establish or improve through a fundraising campaign called “The Places.”

More information about the 15 memorial areas included in The Places campaign is available by contacting Suzan Nocella, director of the First Community Village Foundation, at 614-488-2076 or [email protected]

“You’re actually looking at the past, the present, and the future,” Nocella said. “The Millers have built memories, and we’re also building memories around this ice house.

“As we look to the future and the generations to come, we also know that memories will be built.”

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