ST. MARYS — Local residents who want to own a piece of St. Marys history can do so by visiting the St. Marys Area Chamber of Commerce.
A version of the 1936 film that was found in the chamber’s basement in 2009 has been digitized and transfered into DVD format for purchase. Minster Bank donated the funds to help cover the costs of digitizing and restoring the film.
The film was discovered during the Pay it Forward Day, during which a group of volunteers helped clean the chamber’s basement. After holding a viewing of the 16mm film for a handful of residents, Chamber Director Kelly Kill said numerous people thought it would be a good idea to preserve the film for future viewings. Kill said Kathy Sampson and Doug and Richard Spencer stepped up and helped throughout the project. Commentary from Doris Lawler, Eldon Montague, George Neargarder and Ed Noble have been included in the DVD to give some background as to what is being shown in the silent portion of the film.
“I think a variety of residents can enjoy it,” Kill said.
“Some people may be able to ID people in it. It opens St. Marys history up in a different way than just reading a book or listening to someone talk about it.”
The short film is silent and includes several shots around St. Marys, including downtown businesses and of school.
Kill said the film maker remains a mystery and no one knows why the film was shot.
“We really don’t know where the film came from,” Kill said. “We don’t know who took it or why and if anyone knows, that would be an interesting piece of information to add.”
Plans are in the works to shoot a film of present day St. Marys for future generations to view.
Kill noted it could include shots of downtown, the new school as well as area businesses and industries.
“One thing we talked about is to see if Rich would do the same thing now, so 50 years from now, 80 years from now, there is a video recording,” Kill said.
“Now it would be easier to narrate it because we have the ability to add sound on videos, which they couldn’t do back then.”
Several other vintage films have been found that depict St. Marys. A film that shows the demolition of the old West School, which was donated by Robert J. Burke, and one of the St. Marys Sesquicentennial parade, which was donated by Thomas and Barb Knous, have been located. Kill said preserving local history, including these films, is vital.
“We hope some more come up,” Kill said.
The DVDs of the 1936 film are $10 and can be purchased at the chamber office, located at 301 E. Spring St. For more information, call 419-300-4611.