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 a small raised stage and an open space that can accommodate about 100 people theater style.
Crossroads is a wonderful venue for classes of all kinds, club meetings, birthday parties, bridal or baby showers, graduation parties, weddings, craft shows, farmers’ markets, and more. Contact WTHS (email@example.com) for rental information.
Where It Began. Across Farrell Road behind the one-room Webster School, stood a cider mill for grinding apples into mash and then pressing the cloth-layered mash to squeeze out cider. The grinder and press were powered with a horse harnessed to a turnstile. A barn built of hand-hewn timbers on the John W. Williams farm some time prior to 1867 was storage for the cider. Mr. Williams ran his cider operation from 1867 until after the turn of the century.
The mill sitting at a higher elevation than the storage barn allowed cider to be piped across Farrell Road to large wooden vats in the barn. After settling, cooling and aging, the cider was put in wood barrels and carted to the depot at Delhi. From here, cider, wine and vinegar were shipped by rail to various parts of the country.
In September 1888, a notice in the Dexter Leader observed that Mr. Williams went to the Michigan State fair with his wine and cider filter. John Williams had many recipes for making different kinds of cider–he was the author of most of them. Many times he was offered large sums of money for his recipes, but he would not sell any of them. He said he made “men’s cider, women’s cider and cider for small boys. Some of his brands of cider were almost like champagne. (J. B. Parker & O. O. Williams, 2008. The Third Marked Tree: Paths through the Wilderness–John Williams of Webster Township and His Descendants. Smith Falls, ON, Canada: Performance Printing.)
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 cider storage barn 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 from 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 barn 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 and served as the social hub of the community for nearly 85 years. 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! During WWII, Red Cross classes on rolling bandages and making beds were held in the Community House. The second-floor “theater-with-stage” served as the “inner sanctum” of the secretive Farmers Grange. 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. In 1995, the second floor was substantially renovated and a new gas furnace, electrical wiring, water heater, and water softener were installed. The foundation was tuck-pointed in 2007.
After a new fellowship hall was built 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, including new windows and a new roof. In 2015, WTHS installed hardie board siding to protect the outside of the building. In 2021, a new well was installed.
Source Note: 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.