In 1878, the Lancaster Camp Meeting and Assembly Association, Inc. was founded as a sacred space for Camp Meetings, steeped in tradition with preaching, singing, and various religious activities. What started with humble canvas tents evolved into a sprawling community of over 400 cottages by the banks of the little Hocking River. The Woodside Hotel, constructed in 1884, and subsequent additions such as a Post Office, Grocery Store, Swimming Pool, Photo Gallery, Cafeteria, and ice cream parlor, were all crafted to enhance the experience for members and guests.
A pivotal moment came in 1895 with the construction of the Historic Davis Auditorium, a grand stage capable of hosting nearly 15,000 people per week. This attracted various missionary movements, showcasing their love for God on this distinguished platform. In 1918, the Hotel found its current position on the south side of the grounds, and in 1950, the Hilltop Women paved the way for modernity by fundraising to pave roads and walkways, accommodating the rise of motorized vehicles.
In 1987, the Lancaster Camp Ground achieved a significant milestone by being listed on the National Historic Register, a testament to the cherished history of the past century. However, following this recognition, the association faced challenges as the world evolved rapidly. The once-thriving community struggled, earning derogatory names like “The Slums of Lancaster” and “Shantytown.” Financial troubles mounted, leading to the sale of nearly half of the original land after a major lawsuit in 2000.
But, in 2017, hope rekindled with the restoration of the Davis Auditorium Project. In 2021, a new administration took charge, driven by a singular goal: to restore the Lancaster Camp Ground, the “City on the hill,” into the shining beacon it once was. Through strategic tweaks to the business model, extensive rebranding efforts, and numerous late nights, a remarkable transformation took place. By 2023, the association not only achieved its first positive net income in several years but also received the Gold Medal Award from the Health Department for maintaining violation-free concession stands and Cafeteria.
These remarkable changes signal a new chapter for the Lancaster Camp Ground. With a renewed focus on the future, the association is poised to not only benefit its members but also contribute to the larger Fairfield County community. The commitment to correcting past mistakes and embracing positive change positions the Lancaster Camp Ground as a resilient and thriving entity, ready to shine once again.
In writing the next chapter of the Lancaster Camp Ground’s storied history, we invite you to join us in this exciting journey of restoration and revitalization. Your support can make a significant impact in preserving the legacy of this cherished community. Here are some ways you can help:
- Become a Member: Consider becoming an Association Member of the Lancaster Camp Meeting and Assembly Association, Inc. Your membership connects you to not only a rich history but also a safe and friendly neighborhood.
- Volunteer: We welcome individuals who are passionate about preserving historical landmarks and creating positive change. Whether you have skills in maintenance, event planning, or community outreach, your time and expertise can play a crucial role in the success of our revitalization initiatives.
- Donations: Financial contributions are vital to fund restoration projects, maintenance, and community programs. Your generous donations help us address immediate needs and plan for a sustainable future.
- Spread the Word: Help us amplify our message by sharing the Lancaster Camp Ground’s story with your network. Increased awareness can attract more supporters and partners who believe in the importance of preserving our cultural and religious heritage.
- Attend Events: Join us at upcoming events and gatherings held at the Lancaster Camp Ground. Your presence not only adds vibrancy to our community but also supports our ongoing initiatives.
- Share Your Ideas: We value fresh perspectives and innovative ideas. If you have suggestions on how to further enhance and promote the Lancaster Camp Ground, please reach out. Your input is crucial to our continuous improvement.
By working together, we can ensure that the Lancaster Camp Ground becomes not only a beacon of spiritual and cultural significance but also a thriving community that stands the test of time. Join us in shaping a brighter future for this historic landmark.
Copeland Pool 1920
Grocery Store 1882
Davis Auditorium 1895