Historic Bakery Site Changes Ownership
April 1, 2015

The building where commercially-sliced bread was first introduced to the buying public at First and Elm streets in 1928 has been purchased by the newly-formed Home of Sliced Bread Corporation from SMC Electric. Company representatives and several corporation directors were present Tuesday, March 31, 2015, for the formal transaction. From left: Chris Squires, SMC Electric owner; directors Chuck Haney, Ed Douglas, Cathy Ripley, Amy Supple, Terry Rumery and Scott Ellis; and SMC Electric branch manager Darrin Fravel.

Photo by Tom Tingerthal

An historic building at First and Elm streets in Chillicothe is now under new ownership. The building was the home of Frank Bench's Chillicothe Baking Company where commercially-sliced bread was invented and sold to the public on July 7, 1928. The building most recently was the location of SMC Electric and was purchased Tuesday by the newly-formed Home of Sliced Bread Corporation. This group started as an informal committee and received its official 501(c3) designation on March 2, 2015.

The primary purpose in purchasing the building was to preserve the history and integrity of this historic site, said Ed Douglas, president of the Home of Sliced Bread Corporation. "To lose the building would have been a terrible thing," he said. While there are no immediate plans for the building, all options are being considered for future development. "There are so many possibilities," Douglas said.

The purchase of the building was made possible through the support of the Joe and Lenore Lambert Foundation and the Mervyn W. Jenkins Foundation. "We're so lucky in Chillicothe to have so many foundations to help us get things done," Douglas said. "They recognized the significance of the building, and they thought we needed to buy it. Without the help of the foundations, this couldn't have happened. We are very appreciative."

Douglas also extended appreciation to Chris Squires, SMC Electric owner, and Darrin Fravel, branch manager, for working with the group to make the purchase possible. SMC Electric recently expanded its offices to the Chillicothe Industrial Park. "This has been a good spot for us, but we needed a bigger facility," Squires told the C-T. "It sounds like this building is going to get put to a good use. I'm glad we could be a part of it."

The newly-formed not-for-profit organization will continue to be completely privately funded through individual and corporate contributions as well as through grants and fund-raising efforts. The board of directors will meet regularly and new committee members and volunteers are always welcome as the group plans for the future. Amy Supple, who is director of the Greater Chillicothe Visitors Region and secretary of the newly-formed corporation, emphasized that there is no public money involved in the building and that she is pleased with the 501(c3) designation. "This gives us our own official identity, our own structure," Supple said. "Everybody recognizes that it is an important historic building and a part of our history that's worth preserving. What that means down the line... we're excited to find out."

The Sliced Bread Committee was formed in 2003 when it was discovered and confirmed that Chillicothe was the first place in the world to introduce commercially-sliced bread to the public. Since that time, efforts have been made to help preserve this aspect of local history. One of the early projects was to erect a marker at the original bakery site and install a plaque on the outside of the building. This part of town, which is located just a couple blocks south of Chillicothe's downtown business district, has seen some developments in the recent past with the transformation of the old Wabash Railroad depot into a barbecue restaurant and the relocation of the old Alamo gas station building nearby. Plans are also in the works to develop a rails-to-trails path that extends from Chillicothe to Sumner. "I think we will see, over time, this area become a busy place," Douglas said.

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