WEST FARMINGTON, Ohio (WKBN) – Work is underway to try to save items that were inside Bontrager Groceries when the West Farmington store caught fire last week.
The building, over 100 years old, held big pieces of West Farmington’s history, including a 1903 diploma from the Western Reserve Seminary and a yellow ribbon from a 1961 pulling contest. There was even an old Bible given to Mrs. Rolison for good church attendance, which had a flower still inside.
Some of those pieces were charred but are in the process of being restored by Disaster Recovery Services.
Reggie Rooks, owner of Disaster Recovery Services, said the goal is to clean up the items and get the stench of smoke out.
“If you look at some of the clothing, they got smoke in them. They got stains on them. We can get the stains out,” he said. “As far as paper products, they’re old to start with. They look 100 years old. Best you’re going to do is get the odor out of them.”
Rooks knows the importance of restoring these historical items. His mother was born in West Farmington.
Found after the fire were hundreds of pictures, numerous books, historical wall hangings and even old items that the students would wear to school.
“A lot of stuff, they changed school systems. They made changes over there, and this is the last of it, so it’s interesting, really interesting,” Rooks said.
Rooks said if nothing had been done, the items would be ruined and the history lost.
After the items are dried and cleaned, they will be inventoried and hand-cleaned to make them look even better. That should start later this week.
The Bontragers are still deciding where the items will go on display next.