Japanese shrine to return to Westerville


WESTERVILLE — Remember the Japanese Tea House? A part of it will be returning to the city.

A popular place for school field trips, the colorful red and white house, flanked by cherry trees, a bridge and a carp pond always stood out on the corner of West Plum and South State streets. When the house was demolished, it was a sign to some that the old Westerville they had grew up in was gone for good.

The January/February edition of the Westerville Community Guide has an update on what was formally known as the Kyoto Tea House and Shinto Shrine. It dates back to 1958, when George and Opal Henderson opened the converted cottage to visitors. The Hendersons lived in Japan for a time following World War II and adapted the style to their stateside home.

A replica of a Shinto Shrine was added to the grounds in 1964. The 26-ton shrine was originally built in Japan and shipped to Westerville.

“The 400-square-foot shrine was built from Japanese sugi wood, did not contain any nails, and fit together like a jigsaw puzzle,” the article said.

Tours of the tea house and shrine ended for good in 2002, and the property was sold and demolished two years later. Currently on the site is the Northstar Cafe.

What many didn’t know, though, was that a Westerville organization called “Friends of the Japanese Tea House & House & Shrine” were able to preserve the shrine and artifacts.

“In 2004, the shrine was moved into storage at the Franklin Park Conservatory,” the Community Guide said. “In 2018, the City of Westerville began researching the best way to reconstruct the Shinto Shrine in Westerville and restore the structure to its former glory.”

Then came the COVID-19 pandemic, which put everything on hold. However, things got back on track last year as an architectural firm was selected for design, reconstruction and preservation.

“The city is currently seeking grant funding to support the project,” the article said.

Also in the city, the Westerville Division of Police (WPD) Basic Peace Officer Training Academy had its first graduating class last November. “Thirteen recruits representing five agencies in and around central Ohio have met the state requirements to become certified peace officers,” said a Facebook post from the City Government of Westerville, Ohio.

City Manager Monica Irelan Dupee administered the Oath of Office, and speakers included WPD Chief Charles Chandler, and Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost at the graduation, held in the Westerville Community Center.

WPD officers have said that having a new police station, as well as their own high training standards, has allowed the division to hold the classes in the city as an alternative to Columbus. They can also train their own recruits.

Assistant Editor Gary Budzak covers the eastern half of Delaware County and surrounding areas. He may be reached at [email protected].

No posts to display