The G.A.R. (Grand Army of the Republic) Memorial Hall, built in 1892, is one of many memorial halls located in the United States, as a dedication and remembrance of the Civil War veterans. Thirteen states are home to at least one of these amazing Memorial Halls, this being the only one located in Ohio. This specific memorial was designed by an Ohio native, Joseph W. Yost. These Memorial Halls acted as a meeting hall and community center for Veterans and their families to meet, organize and participate in local activities and events.
After the gruesome Civil War, the population and government of Ohio wanted a way to recognize, assist, and remember the Veterans of the war that
nearly split the United States in two. Joseph
W. Yost was hired and paid nearly $20,000 for the construction of this memorial. Under
the supervision and help of the Yost and Packard Architectural firm,
construction was underway. Finally, on September 22, 1892, the building was opened to the public.
The building was a place which Union Army veteran’s widows and orphans could use, and
contained a library and a place for war relics. Sadly, the library and a majority
of the building was destroyed in a fire in 1905. Once the Memorial Hall was
rebuilt, it was exclusively used as a library for many years to come.
Being Ironton’s library for nearly 60 years, it transitioned to the City Hall and jail in the 1960’s. The City Hall almost made it to the turn of the
century, but was closed in 1996 due to the infrastructure declining drastically.
The Memorial Hall has since then not been occupied.
There have been several attempts to restore the building. There
were several attempts to dismantle the building as well, and even some efforts
in between. Several groups wanted to remove the interior and brace the insides
so the structure could stand for years to come. Another group wanted to convert
it to a bed and breakfast, but the estimated cost was too overwhelming to do
so. Finally, the American Legion declared they were
going to venture into restoring the Memorial. They had plans to own the
building by a certain date and the government would award them a $2.4 million
grant to restore the building. To obtain ownership of the building they would
need to raise $500,000 to buy the building, but their two years of fundraising
efforts only raised what it cost to build the building in 1892, $20,000. In 2014, the demolition of the building began. Sadly
this beautiful memorial is no longer standing, but with efforts and the internet
today, it will not be forgotten.