Southeast Ohio History Center

The Southeast Ohio History Center in Athens occupies what once served as the First Christian Church of Athens.

The Southeast Ohio History Center has received a gift of approximately $120,000 from the Cornwell Foundation, according to a news release from the center. The money will be used to create a reception/exhibit area in the History Center in commemoration of longtime Athens resident Eric Coon, who passed away in August 2018.

Coon was a close friend of the members of the Cornwell family. Many area residents knew Eric Coon from his four decades working on Court Street (with one or more of the family’s businesses), the release said.

The reception/exhibit space in the History Center will be designed with features simulating Court Street including a brick floor and lighting mimicking the lamppost design seen along that iconic corridor, according to the release. Etchings of some of the historic buildings on Court Street along with biographic information profiling Eric Coon will be depicted on a glass wall separating the reception area from a multi-purpose exhibit and event space.

The Southeast Ohio History Center is embarking on its next phase of development that will incorporate a multipurpose/traveling exhibit gallery and an interactive Digital Wall Gallery, the release said.

“This installation will allow the History Center to better serve its constituency through a more effective – and contemporary – presentation of the stories of the region,” center spokesperson Tom O’Grady said in the release. “The initiative is called Vision 2020 and will be inclusive of the counties of southeast Ohio, and the theme of the exhibits will remind visitors ‘Where Ohio Began’.”

The release continued, “The staff and board of the Southeast Ohio History Center are very appreciative of the Cornwell Foundation for their generous contribution in the memory of Eric Coon. This gift and several others have gotten the Vision 2020 initiative off to a good start. “Our plan is to make the Southeast Ohio History Center a destination for people of the region as well as from the rest of Ohio” O’Grady said in the release.

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