Pictured from left to right: Bob Gamble, The Marsh Foundation Trustee; Gary Clay, The Marsh Foundation Trustee; Robbie Breese, Director of The Marsh Foundation; Kim Mullins, Executive Director of Child and Family Services at The Marsh Foundation; Jeff Grothouse, Executive Secretary/ Treasurer of The Marsh Foundation; and Gary Corcoran, The Marsh Foundation Trustee. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)
Pictured from left to right: Bob Gamble, The Marsh Foundation Trustee; Gary Clay, The Marsh Foundation Trustee; Robbie Breese, Director of The Marsh Foundation; Kim Mullins, Executive Director of Child and Family Services at The Marsh Foundation; Jeff Grothouse, Executive Secretary/ Treasurer of The Marsh Foundation; and Gary Corcoran, The Marsh Foundation Trustee. (DHI Media/Kirsten Barnhart)

VAN WERT – The Marsh Foundation broke ground on a 15,000-square foot structure Monday afternoon. The structure will house a gymnasium, locker rooms, restrooms, a kitchen, dining area, staff offices, and storage areas. The new building will be connected to and located northwest of the Administration Building on their campus in Van Wert.

Construction on the project began on Monday thanks to Peterson Construction and is expected to take around 12 months. Jeff Grothouse, Executive Secretary/Treasurer of The Marsh Foundation, said that occupancy of the building is expected mid-summer of 2020.

“I believe it’s appropriate today to thank George, Hilinda, an Katie Marsh for their vision of The Marsh Foundation in the early 1900s,” said Grothouse. “It is also appropriate to thank all our past and present trustees for their wisdom, guidance, service, and stewardship of The Marsh Foundation. Their foresight and fiscal planning made this project possible today.”

During Monday’s groundbreaking ceremony, Marsh Foundation Director Robbie Breese said that the idea of the new building came about in 2015.

“Initially, we discussed several goals that we would like to achieve – to increase handicap accessibility, to provide better fitness opportunities for our children and staff, to expand services to our youth, to create more flexible learning spaces and to increase the number of youth that we serve,” said Breese. “This project that we are starting today is the first step in achieving those possibilities.”

Currently, The Marsh Foundation serves around 35-40 students at a time in the school and around 30 student live on campus. In addition, The Marsh Foundation also serves students in foster care.

“The number of Ohio youth that are in need of services is consistently growing,” Breese said. “This addition to our campus will put us in a position to be able to serve more children and families in need.”

When the new building is built, there will be a corridor connecting it to the Administrative Building. The architecture of the new building will resemble the same outward style as the current buildings on the Marsh campus. However, the inside will be more modern. Breese said the building is designed for expansion.

The Marsh Foundation worked with Fanning Howey Architecture to design the building.

“Maintaining the integrity of our historical campus was extremely important to all of us as we went through this process,” said Kim Mullins, Executive Director, Child and Family Services. “I believe the end result is something that The Marsh family and all of our alumni will be proud of.”

Once the cafeteria and kitchen is moved to the new building, the empty spaces left in the Administrative Building will be renovated into a fitness center. The fitness center will be designed for weight lifting, cardio equipment, and a room for aerobic exercise.

“We hope that this is just the start of something bigger,” said Breese. “This is a very exciting day for The Marsh Foundation.”