Low-income housing is nothing new to the Davis Paints site, according to Canal Winchester Historical Society vice president Patrick Murphy.

Low-income housing is nothing new to the Davis Paints site, according to Canal Winchester Historical Society vice president Patrick Murphy.

NRP Group of Cleveland and Wagenbrenner Development of Columbus are proposing to construct a three-story, 46-unit apartment building for low-income senior citizens. Murphy said a house that once stood on the site was known as the "poor house."

A lumberyard operated on the site starting in 1857. Canal Winchester resident George Bareis eventually bought the property at the back corner of what is now the Huntington Bank parking lot, Murphy said.

In his book "A History of Madison Township: Including Groveport and Canal Winchester," published in 1902, Bareis wrote that the first lumber mill opened on the Davis Paints site in 1857.

"For a number of years, there was a house there that at one time had eight families living there," Murphy said. "It was 100 feet away from the lumberyard. Everybody in town called it the 'poor house.' He bought it, fixed it up and lived in it."

Murphy said Bareis constructed a large Victorian house fronting Columbus Street that was razed in the 1960s to make room for the Huntington Bank parking lot.The "poor house" was knocked down to make room for the Bareis home, he said.

"That was when people started to get a little more historically conscious," he said. "In the mid-1970s, we ended up starting the historical society."

In 1883, Bareis bought the lumberyard. After it burned down, Murphy said, Bareis used the insurance money in 1884 to invest and rebuild all the buildings that are currently on the site.

The property continued to serve as a lumberyard until the 1980s, when it was purchased by Davis Paints.

Murphy, who portrayed George Bareis in the Canal Winchester Historical Society's ghost tour, said Bareis served on village council and the Ohio Historical Society board of trustees. He was big into history and held a number of different positions in town, Murphy said.

"I really got to know his story," Murphy said. "I looked up some stuff and knew there was a building called the 'poor house.' I heard stories about it before. That is one of history's ironies: Here we are (proposing to) knock down his lumberyard for low-income housing."

Canal Winchester Historical Society member Carol Note said Bareis wrote a wonderful history of the community. When she moved to Canal Winchester in 1995, Davis Paints was still in operation at the downtown location.

"We had it on the first tour we did four years ago, mainly because of George Bareis and his association with it," she said. "He is a well-known person among the people who know the history of the town. He wrote this wonderful book and started this lumber company."

Canal Winchester development director Chris Strayer said to the best of his knowledge, the store stopped selling paint in September 2006. No paint was ever produced there, he said.

"It was simply a paint store that sold it," he said.

Copies of Bareis' book can be purchased from the Canal Winchester Historical Society. The book can also viewed line at http://books.google.com.