Main Street Van Wert Program Director Adam Ries (fourth from right) talks about the history of a few of the downtown Van Wert buildings during a tour Saturday conducted for history students at Van Wert High School. (Submitted photo)
Main Street Van Wert Program Director Adam Ries (fourth from right) talks about the history of a few of the downtown Van Wert buildings during a tour Saturday conducted for history students at Van Wert High School. (Submitted photo)

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VAN WERT - A number of Van Wert High School students from Jennifer Trittschuh's American History class, along with a few parents and grandparents, took a Saturday morning tour of downtown on Jan. 26.

The Hon. Judge Charles D. Steele and Main Street Program Manager Adam Ries led the students through downtown explaining how the city grew, influenced by each advancement in transportation from horse and buggy, railroad, inter-urban, the rise of the automobile and then interstate highway. Students learned how, for many decades, downtown held the only stores and businesses where residents would shop for all their daily and household needs. Adults in the group were able to share their own stories about shopping at different bygone stores, and how downtown was the social hub of the community.

Highlights of the morning included getting to tour the long-unoccupied floors above 2 prominent downtown buildings, as well as a presentation on the history of the Van Wert County Courthouse with a behind the scenes tour. Everyone enjoyed learning about how much Van Wert and Downtown has changed over the last century, and seeing remnants of history inside each of the buildings.