The ringing of church chimes at noon Oct. 28 will welcome guests to a free Harvest Party Roast at the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary, 82 N. High St.
Organized by the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary board, the schedule includes chimes from the bell tower at noon, recollections of the 1930s and discussion of the history of the stained-glass windows at 12:15 p.m., followed by a free community beef roast at 1:30 p.m. that will continue until the food runs out.
The church was built in 1895 as Peace Lutheran Church. The property, which is on the National Register of Historic Places, played host to ox roasts for the residents of Gahanna until 1965, when the congregation moved to Clark State Road.
Operated as a community center since 1980, the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary wants to renew that unique community tradition, said John Michael Spinelli, an Olde Gahanna Sanctuary trustee.
The idea for the Harvest Party Roast popped up when the date became free after an event cancellation, he said.
The Olde Gahanna Sanctuary has rented its space for decades, becoming a sought-after location due to its location, affordability and flexible food-service rules. When trustees sought to renew its connection to Gahanna with an event that recalls its formative years as Peace Lutheran Church, its trustees seized on the open date.
"Thousands of people have selected the Olde Gahanna Sanctuary for their weddings, meetings and events," said Charley Ashley, board president. "Not only does that reinforce our mission 'to act as a cohesive force in our community' but also allows us to constantly maintain and restore the building as time and water take their toll on the bell tower, chimney, windows, and other parts of the historic structure."
Ashley said the board of trustees is looking forward to opening the doors to the public, providing lunch and a chance to share stories.
For those who were not married there or who have not attended a friend's wedding there, the site might be familiar as a place where high school dances were held in the 1980s, or more recently as a headquarters for the Creekside Blues & Jazz Festival.
The sanctuary also is home to yoga and dance classes and some worship services.
The Harvest Party Roast follows the lighting of the bell tower, held earlier this year. The tower is an example of Gothic architecture that helped land the church on the National Register of Historic Places in 1987.
The lighting of the bell tower for the first time in the church's 122-year history was well-received by the community, according Spinelli, who led the lighting project.
"The lighting of the bell tower is just one step to call attention to our historic building and the role it plays in Gahanna," he said.
Spinelli said the formation of the Gahanna Area Arts Council may offer more opportunities to partner with the sanctuary on new events.
Ashley, who knows the site's capital requirements well, said the toll water and time have taken on the historic church are being dealt with by trustees who have the good fortune, from a booked-up calendar, to have sufficient funds to repair or rebuild where needed with preservation-quality materials and craftsmanship.
For more information on the Harvest Party Roast, call 614-475-9265 or email@GahannaSanctuary.org.