Benham’s Grove is a community gathering place located in the heart of Centerville, Ohio. Owned by the City, Benham’s Grove is a venue rooted in history, a fitting setting for a wide variety of functions from intimate meetings to large formal gatherings.
The Gerber House is located at the front of the property adjacent to the road. The ten-acre property exhibits a romantic and relaxed presence with rambling grounds, an abundance of landscaping and the gazebo overlooking the pond. The historic accessory buildings such as the barn and cottage enhance the feel of this country estate that was once a working farm.
Administrator Randal Bishop shares his perspective as Benham’s Grove celebrates 30 years.
Why do you think Benham’s Grove has such a special place in the hearts of local families?
Randal: So many families have used Benham’s Grove for birthdays, anniversaries, graduation parties and weddings. Over the 20 years I have been here, I have seen families here on multiple occasions to use Benham’s Grove as their children grew and as their families expanded. I have had so many wonderful comments on the property and grounds. It is
truly a Centerville gathering space.
Benham’s Grove was once a dilapidated, vacant property. How did the city save it? Randal: When the city purchased the property, it was in a state of disrepair. It had been unoccupied for several years. The buildings were falling apart, and the vegetation was out of control. The city devised a plan to makethe best use of the buildings and grounds. In April 1992, Benham’s Grove was dedicated and opened as the 1992 Dayton Showhouse. After Showhouse, Benham’s Grove opened for business.
What are the notable changes you’ve seen over
the past 30 years?
Randal: In 1995, the gazebo was added to the
property for wedding ceremonies. Many civic
groups in Centerville have used the space and raised money for improvements to the facility. The pergola was also added to the southwest corner of the property. In 2013, the brick plaza was added to offer cover for outdoor events and to help use tents to protect the grounds.
Please describe a few of the fun stories or highlights from events over the past decades.
Benham’s Grove has hosted thousands of guests over the years. We have had so many beautiful weddings, parties and city events it is difficult pick out just one or two. In 2008, we hosted two small weddings on thesame day as the leftover effects of Hurricane Ike blew through the Dayton area. We had no power, strong winds and the loss of several large trees that came crashing down. We pushed through the weather and both couples laughed and said they would talk about getting married in a hurricane in Ohio for the rest of their lives. Plus, the Americana Festival is always a good time as thousands of people gather to catch some shade and enjoy the entertainment or just relax on the grounds.
The family of past owners are still involved in the property, right?
I am still in touch with the granddaughter of the Gerber Family, and the family still comes to visit the property. The family continues to be involved and has donated projects to enhance it as well, the latest being the new fountain at the Gerber House.
What changes should we expect in the next five years at Benham’s Grove?
The future is bright at Benham’s Grove! We are working now to develop an improvement plan to secure the future of the venue for generations in the future. Expect a refresh of some of the buildings and changes that will make the space more accessible for all.