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History of the Friends Boarding Home


In 1904, the Miami Month Meeting of Friends (Quakers) began construction of the Friends Boarding Home as a retirement home for elderly Quakers.  The Fox Brothers Company of Cincinnati was hired as the builder but after the early stages of construction and $1,000 of the Friends’ money, the Fox Brothers went bankrupt.  Wanting to see the building completed, a local Quaker named Aaron B. Chandler, took over the job.  Today he would be called the general contractor and Aaron oversaw all aspects of the construction.  He kept meticulous records of who worked on the building and how much each person was paid, along with the material costs.  In the summer of 2002, these hand-written records were found in the attic of the building.  The Boarding Home was completed in November, 1905 – minus the front porch – for the sum of $10,000, or approximately $297,250 in today’s (2021) dollars.  The front porch was added in 1906.


The Friends Home is 40 feet square with hand-poured concrete walls, interior and exterior, from the basement to the attic.  As a result, the plumbing and electrical work must be outside of the walls.  The exterior of the building is local brick over the concrete and the original roof was red slate.  The attic is an open floor plan with hand-cut wooden roof beams, wooden flooring and windows on three sides.  When complete, the building was considered a modern marvel as it had hot and cold running water, indoor bathrooms, hot water heat and electricity.  The electric power plant in Waynesville turned on the power village-wide in the evening and turned it off in the morning.  No one outside the village had electric power in 1905.  The power plant was located in the old red brick building behind the BP gas station, used today by water hauling companies. 


The original Friends Home had 16 boarder rooms, 4½ bathrooms and was unique in that it has both a first and second floor sitting room where boarders could entertain friends and family.  Both men and women lived here with the first boarder being Mary Terrel of Xenia. Residents had to be of good health and often lived here until their death.  Residents were not turned away if they were not of the Quaker faith.  The staff consisted of a full-time superintendent, matron, cook, housekeeper, laundress and outside farm help.  With a large barn (destroyed in recent years) and grazing area behind the Friends Home, it was self-sufficient – raising its own vegetables and livestock.  On Sundays the Home was often open to the town people for Sunday dinners for 25 cents – equal to approximately $7.50 today.  Two oak tables in the dining room could seat 25 people; meals were served three times daily with formal dining using china and linens.  In 1925, the Friends Home bought the Victrola, located on the first floor near the office and had small concerts playing the records.  These records are still stored in the lower storage section of the Victrola.


In 1905, a small boarder’s room cost $3.50 per week – equal to approximately $104 in today’s (2021) dollars, and included three meals a day, housekeeping and laundry.  The Friends Home also housed out-of-town guests (usually Quakers) who could book a room for a day to several weeks while visiting local family or attending Quaker events such as yearly meetings.  It was also used by female teachers who either attended the Lebanon Normal School or taught at the early Waynesville school across the street from the Friends Home.


The Miami Monthly Meeting used the Friends Home as a boarding home until about 1988 and then leased the building out as a group home for county MRDD (Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities) residents.  The Friends Home was never a nursing facility.  The Friends Home closed in 1997 and sat empty for about two years before some local citizens proposed re-opening the building as a museum – originally named the Waynesville Area Heritage and Cultural Center, now commonly known as the Museum at the Friends Home.


History of the Museum at the Friends Home


The concept for the Museum at the Friends Home was developed in 1999 by a group of local citizens who felt Waynesville needed a place to house its rich history – and the history of surrounding villages – before all was lost.  The Museum opened in 2000 with six exhibit rooms.  Its mission is to uncover, preserve and display local historical records, and to document, for future generations, the continuing growth and change in Waynesville itself, as well as in all the villages and hamlets in northeast Warren county.  The museum is run by a volunteer board of 12 trustees and operates on memberships, donations, fund raisers, visitor admission donations and grants.  The Museum is open Wednesdays and Saturdays from 1-5 pm and by appointment at other times.  The museum has a library and office on the first floor with the curator’s office, conference room and four archive storage areas in the basement.  The museum is also available for rent for approved functions.


The following is a brief description of each exhibit room by floor.  Using this as a guide, please tour each room to familiarize yourself with items of interest.  All exhibit rooms were originally resident’s rooms except the library and second-floor conservatory.  The basement housed boarders in the 1970’s on the front side of the building.


The antiques in the Museum are from previous boarders and local donors.  Visitors are permitted to sit on furniture that does not have a ribbon across it.  We ask that you welcome visitors and ask them to sign the register.  When a visitor arrives, please give them a brief history of the Friends Home and ask if they would like a guided tour or to tour the home on their own.


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