Monday, September 14, 2020

Garst Museum New Parking Lot Dedicated

Something new in the neighborhood? Indeed there is! 

On Friday, August 14, 2020, Garst Museum celebrated the near completion of its new parking lot by recognizing the people who helped make it a reality. Invited guests were Jim Buchy, Eunice Steinbrecher, Keith Faber, Darryl Mehaffie, Pete Hemer, Rodney Oda, John Marchal, Steve Gruber, Darren Reeves, and Tim Flora.  Keith Faber, Ohio Auditor of State, presented Dr. Clay Johnson, President and CEO of Garst Museum, with a certificate of dedication for the new parking lot and also recognized Darryl Mehaffie, emeritus board member of the Darke County Historical Society, as one of Ohio’s finest citizens, for his many years of devoted service to his community and the state of Ohio. Garst Museum will be forever grateful to all those involved because it is clear that the scope of the project took many hours of planning from start to finish. 

But, when did the project actually begin? Standing vacant, the century-old Buchy’s plant was razed in 2012. On March 23, 2015, five years before the pandemic brought activities to a standstill, John Marchal and Pete Hemer met with Louis Bergman at Mote and Associates to “get down and dirty” about a parking lot at Garst Museum. And hence, the project is launched.  Garst Board Committee members led by Pete Hemer, Darryl Mehaffie, Steve Gruber, and Garst CEO Dr. Clay Johnson prepared for the project and secured funds from grants and donations to finance it.  The Ohio Facilities Construction Committee awarded $150,000 to partially fund the project; a private benefactor, who wished to remain anonymous to direct the focus to the future of the community and the Museum, donated monies; and the Buchy family made a valued contribution to the project adhering to their decades of commitment to the community. The Museum worked closely with the Darke County Park District and County Engineer’s Office to assimilate the parking facility into the surrounding lands to benefit future generations through calculated foresight and employed local businesses to bring the project to fruition. The comprehensive plan will make efficient use of the property and enhance the aesthetics of the North Broadway thoroughfare. Today, just a few final touches need to be added and then the parking venue will be an essential part of the Museum’s operations and events.

But thinking back, many of us remember the presence of the Buchy Food Service plant on that same North Broadway property—the iconic rooftop sign, the red brick building, and the trucks parked ready for the next day’s deliveries.  But, beyond what we can remember is a fascinating history of growth and five generations dedicated to quality, service, and community.

In 1870, George Buchy fled the Alsace-Lorraine region when it was invaded by Germany and immigrated to the United States with the equivalent of $.85 to his name. He continued his travels from New York to Pittsburgh along the Ohio River then to the Miami Valley while working as a butcher, and eventually he was employed in Greenville in 1871 by his relative Albert Klee, who was operating a slaughterhouse.  Seeking the entrepreneurial experience a few years later, George ventured out on his own in 1878 and eventually expanded his business, the George Buchy Slaughterhouse, with the brick building.  But, upon his death in 1897, the business was sold to Albert Bailey. 

Wanting the business to remain in the family, George’s son Charles quit school, saved money, and borrowed additional funds to buy the business back in 1901 subsequently changing the name of the operation from the George Buchy Slaughterhouse to the Charles G. Buchy Packing Company. Before the advent of refrigeration and automobiles, Charles spent long days delivering meats by wagon to customers in surrounding communities. Lacking modern refrigeration for the warmer months, he cut ice from a pond behind Vine Street and stored it at the plant.  In 1918, the first gas compressor for refrigeration was purchased, and then 15 years later, the business’s first refrigeration truck was on the road.

Upon the death of Charles Buchy in 1963, his son George J. became the third Buchy to steward the company.  The company continued to evolve with the addition of a freezer, a computer system, and a more diverse customer base. But, the dynamics of the business showed George and his son Jim that buying cuts of pork and beef was cheaper than slaughtering their own. Economics dictated that the slaughter operations cease in 1968. 

Jim, the fourth-generation Buchy to be involved with the business, started doing odd jobs at the plant when he was 12.  Through the years, he swept floors, drove a delivery truck, cut meat, and advanced to company president in 1978. While still at the helm of Buchy Food Services, Jim also served Greenville and the state well as a 12-term member of the Ohio House of Representatives. He has stated, “I firmly believe there will be a revitalization of downtown Greenville.  If patience prevails, I envision businesses growing on Broadway.  And we have a beautiful park.  Gosh, I love that park…[and] Garst Museum is a great asset to our community.”

By the late 1980s, the labyrinth of government regulations for manufacturers made distributing more profitable than processing, and the business changed to a wholesale distributor of food items by 1991. In 2006, the business moved to a new building in the Greenville Industrial Park but maintained the desire to develop the North Broadway lot. Ultimately in 2012, ownership of Buchy Food Service was transferred to Sysco Cincinnati—thus, ending an era.

Buchy’s North Broadway plant has evolved from a slaughterhouse to a meat manufacturing facility to a distribution center to finally a much-needed landscaped parking area to serve Garst Museum and a biking/walking path that is an essential link in the Darke County Park District’s recreational trails throughout the county. Nostalgically, the four-acre tract is remembered as a meat-packing plant; presently, a section of the property will be appreciated by the nearly 12,000 visitors to the museum annually and the adjacent trail will be dedicated as the Buchy Mile to be enjoyed by walkers, runners, and cyclists daily.

The Garst Museum is located at: 205 N. Broadway, Greenville, OH 45331  phone: 937-548-5250   website:

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