In 1867, the Williams family built an apple and cider storage shed on their farm. In years past, cider was pumped from the mill on the south side of Farrell Road to this storage shed and then shipped by rail nationwide as premium cider, wine and vinegar.
Because non-bible-based activity in the church was considered blasphemous, the Webster community needed a meeting place other than the church for secular activity. However, an organization other than the township government needed to take ownership and attend to the conversion and long-term care of such a facility. Furthermore, the only organization in the township that could provide such oversight was the Webster Congregational Church.
Ralph and Nellie Williams were willing to donate their unused apple and cider storage shed for conversion to a community meeting house. So, the building and one-half acre of land was purchased on March 27, 1925 by the First Congregational Church Association of Webster for $1.00 Mr. and Mrs. Williams. Horace Whitney and Frank Kleinschmidt took responsibility for raising funds from throughout the community and rounding up volunteer workers to convert the storage shed into a community meeting house. The south side of the shed was closed in, windows were installed, a chimney built, a furnace installed, a kitchen installed, asphalt shingles covered the wood shingles, a new entrance and porch faced Webster Church Road, the vertical siding was replaced with clapboard siding and it was painted white.
It was the largest meeting hall in Webster Township. The Webster Church annual Homecoming celebration always included a big meal in the Community House. More than 200 people celebrated the hundredth anniversary of the township’s founding with dinner in the Community House! The second-floor “theater-with-stage” served as the “inner sanctum” of the secretive Farmers Grange. During WWII, Red Cross classes on rolling bandages and making beds were held in the Community House. From 1932 to 1985, weddings, showers, parties, fund-raisers—chicken dinners, fish suppers, oyster suppers, and strawberry socials—talent shows, dances, PTA and Farm Bureau meetings, Red Cross projects, and local 4-H club meetings kept the building alive.
In 1960, a new roof, ceiling, and light fixtures were installed. In 1964, the bathrooms and a side porch were added (the front porch was now too close to the road to continue using). In 1974, May Mast gifted shutters for the building. In 1984 the Church Guild gifted a commercial stove for the hall. The second floor was substantially renovated and a new gas furnace, electrical wiring, water heater, and water softener were installed in 1995. The foundation was tuck-pointed in 2007.
After building a new fellowship hall behind the church, the Community House fell into disuse and began to deteriorate. As stated in an email message dated November 8, 2010, “The Community House is more a part of the community than it is part of the Church—it is a landmark. Someone needs to take responsibility for the property. Either the Church must commit to that responsibility…or it should be turned over to an organization that can raise funds sufficient to care for it.”
On December 30, 2010, Webster United Church of Christ sold the Community House to WTHS for $1.00. In 2012, the building underwent substantial renovation by WTHS. The next year, WTHS installed hardie board siding to protect the outside of the building.
There is a total of 2,800 sq. ft. of space on two floors. The first floor has an open space to comfortably seat 75 banquet style or 100 theater style, a warming/serving kitchen, two bathrooms, and an area for hanging coats. The upper floor also has an open space that can accommodate about 100 people theater style and a small raised stage. The building is available for rent by contacting the WTHS.
*Material for this page was compiled from many sources including Parker, J. B. & Gardner, J. P. , 1984. Treasure from Earthen Vessels; Parker, J. B., 2008. The Third Marked Tree; Shackman, G., 2007. Webster: A Time, A Place, A People; personal material from D. E. Calhoun files.