As part of one of the oldest Ohio state sponsored institutions created to aid those in need, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum has developed out of the long history of veterans’ struggles and triumphs in the creation of the Ohio Veterans Home. Established in 1886 first as the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home, local leaders such as Commander R.B. Brown; Isaac Mack Foster, editor of the Sandusky Registrar; and Ohio Governor Joseph B. Foraker helped to establish the home to support an aging Civil War veteran population. In the early 19th century, Ohio was a leader in developing institutions to help those individuals with hardships and disabilities. With the support from the Grand Army of the Republic, or G.A.R., projects like the Ohio Soldiers’ and Sailors’ Home flourished throughout the state. The Home was officially opened in 1888 under the watchful eye of General Manning F. Force and admitted its first seventeen men to the facility. Although it has changed over the years, the Home has stood as a commonplace for veterans of all wars. As described by August Spies who chronicled its history through photography in the early 20th century, the home was “not necessarily a home for paupers but [made] for those who at a time of dire need extended their help, lives and heroism.” This ideology has formed not only the image of the Ohio Veterans Home but also the historical initiatives of Ohio Veterans Home Museum.
While the actual origins of the museum are obscure, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum developed out of the need to preserve the legacy of the veterans. According to legend, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum had its earliest beginnings in the basement of the nursing home. Veterans in the home acquired wartime artifacts from their fellow veterans after their deaths from their family members. In 1996, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum was established in the restored Isaac F. Mack Administration building to house the artifacts and plaques of those veterans inducted into the Ohio Veterans Hall of Fame.
Since 1996, the Ohio Veterans Home Museum has been staffed by Ohio Veterans Home residents and other volunteers dedicated to the preservation of the local, regional and national American wartime experience. In 2004, the Ohio Military Heritage Association was created to aid in the legacy of the Home. The Ohio Military Heritage Association is dedicated to expanding the present museum, adding to the collections and as well as preserving the historical monuments and structures on the ninety-nine acres of the Home. Each year the Ohio Veterans Home Museum has increased its efforts to educate the public about the American experience in war through its collections. With the help of Megan Smeznik, a history student from the College of Wooster, this website has been one of the museum’s next steps to reaching and educating a broader public. The Ohio Veterans Home Museum continues to look towards new initiatives to connect and inform the public.