Historic Markers

In 2015, our community dedicated its first Historic Marker, celebrating the rich history of the German Reformed Church and its parsonage. In 2016 our second Historic Marker was dedicated – the Island House, home of Datus and Sara Kelley.

The German Reformed Church was organized on Kelleys Island in 1865.
The congregation built this church from island stone in 1866 on ½ acre of land purchased from Alfred S. and Hannah Kelley. READ MORE

By 1871, the congregation, one of five on the island, heard services in German and had 25 families as members, including those of Baumler, Beatty, Becker, Boker, Burger, Cattenach, Dodge, Elfers, Fischer, Gerlach, Hess, Huber, Jordon, Keifer, Lange, Nowalk, Pringnitz, Renter, Schaedler, Scheele, Smith, Stoll, Suhr, and Trieschman.Rev. A. William Von Kaske was the congregation’s last resident minister, leaving in 1915. The church’s final service, a funeral for William Burger, was held in 1942. The church’s Ladies Aid Society was able to maintain the building until 1957, after which it was left vacant. The Kelley’s Island Historical Association leased the church in 1981 and was granted the deed in 1986.

The congregation of the German Reformed Church built a parsonage on land purchased for $51 from Mrs. Anne Twidney on August 8, 1888. READ MORE

By 1915, the island’s population and the congregation had dwindled and the latter could no longer support a resident minister. The church’s trustees rented the house to the Betzenheimer family. Florence (“Sis”) Betzenheimer McKillips carried on her mother Emma’s role of caring for the German Reformed Church and parsonage even after both buildings became part of the Kelleys Island Historical Association in the 1980s. The association granted Mrs. McKillips use of the house until her death in 2013 at the age of 92. It has no running water and is serviced by a hand pump in the kitchen and an outhouse in the back yard.

In August 2016, our second Historic Marker was dedicated.
Located in the downtown park, it tells the story of the Kelley family home, which became known as the Island House Hotel.

Datus and Sara Kelley built their home here in 1843, known as the Island House. It was located up the hill from the steamboat landing and across from the island store (the Lodge-1854). In 1873, Jacob Rush bought the property and built a 102-room hotel here. This “Pleasure Resort” was 224 feet wide and three stories tall. It featured many amenities, including a bowling alley, billiard parlor, bath houses, laundry, barber shop, livery stable and a dancing pavilion (the Casino) overlooking the lake. A fire destroyed the structure in November 1877. Later owners of the property where the hotel stood were Clara Fann and George Schardt in 1892, Frank Stang in 1895, Jacob Kuebler in 1899, and John Himmelein in 1905. Himmelein sold the property to the Village for use as a park in 1925.

This is the Island House around 1866 – the Kelley home is on the right side, and the hotel addition is on the left side.

Jacob Rush bought the Island House and built the long addition onto the left side of the Kelley home. The new hotel had 102 rooms and stretched 224 feet.

We thank Leslie Korenko for putting these grants together and  the William G. Pomeroy Foundation for awarding us the grants that made these markers possible.

While not a formal historic marker, this plaque on the North side near the boat launch ramp recaps the history of the Kelley’s Island Lime & Transport Co. and its operations on the Island.