APPRECIATION OF THE ARTS AND A LOVE FOR HISTORY
In 1966, Ridgedale High School graduated a small class of 66 students. Among them was future Marion historian, Carroll Neidhardt. After graduation, Neidhardt was one of the first students to attend The Ohio State University at Marion. His 1951 Ford — with no heat and a hole in the floor — transported him to class daily. Tin cans of hot water and a large quilt helped him endure the ride.
At Ohio State Marion, Neidhardt put his artistic skills to use designing a medallion for the Marion Campus. This was the first casting for all four of Ohio State’s regional campuses, including Lima, Newark, Mansfield, and Marion.
After graduating from college, Neidhardt taught for four years at Elgin in the art program; he continued his teaching at Ohio State for another 11 years. Unfortunately, an accident left him feeling his brush skills were limited and he eventually changed careers.
Nonetheless, as a teacher, business owner, historian, and preservationist, Neidhardt has fostered vocational and advocacy ventures throughout his life that have put “Marion First.” In 1980, along with Scott Crider, Neidhardt began Design Enterprise to combine his skills and interests in preservation, contracting and design. Design Enterprise is responsible for several renovations in the Marion area including Marion Catholic’s Elizabeth Bell, reinforcing brick walls in the downtown area, restructuring the Old German School and Church, among many others. His preservation work can also be seen at the homestead and farm of the late George Alber and as the W.C. Stumbo Company in Marion, where Neidhardt was a project developer for 15 years.
As a building owner in downtown Marion, Neidhardt was able to use his love of history and creative energy to spearhead the initial Community Block Development Grant which resulted in $400,000 of re-development investment to Marion’s Downtown in the early 1990’s.
A charter and founding member of the Marion Historical Society, Neidhardt has been instrumental in several local projects, including bringing the Seiter-Wilhelm log cabin to the Marion County Fairgrounds. He has served on both the Marion County Fair Board and the Huber Memorial Association.
Neidhardt readily shares his artwork and folklore knowledge and is a constant promoter of Marion’s history. He is the author and illustrator of six books about Marion. For 25 years, he has teamed with Laipply’s Printing and Marketing Solutions, producing a free calendar featuring his pen, pencil, and ink drawings of notable landmarks. On display at Marion General Hospital are Neidhardt’s sketches of early day scenery from each area; and, replicas are on display at each county’s historical facility. He is a recipient of a Public Awareness Award from the State of Ohio Historic Preservation Office, has conducted more than 1,200 speaking engagements on topics of historic preservation, and is a frequent guest on WMRN.
Neidhardt is the youngest living member of the Harding Memorial Association. He holds beautiful memories of his grandfather transporting President Harding from the historic vault to the Harding Memorial. There is no doubt that Neidhardt’s passion has brought Marion invaluable gifts. He is a 2018 honoree of the Celebrate Marion Gala.