Friday, February 22, marks the yearly anniversary of the grassroots effort to save the historic Whitehall Farm. What started as a grim Christmas present with the Whitehall heirs auctioning off all 940 acres of the farm to the highest bidders quickly turned into an eight-week mission by Tecumseh Land Trust and the surrounding Yellow Springs community to raise over one million dollars to save the farm.
And, so the work began…everyone pitched in to do their part to save the historic Whitehall Farm. Flea markets, rallies, concerts, silent auctions, garage sales, and benefit sales were organized and bumper stickers, flyers, and money jars popped up around town all to raise awareness and money for the cause. One man, Frank Staley, even went to such great lengths as to sell off his Wheaties box collection to raise money. Another citizen, seven-year-old Tyler Johnson, collected nearly $200 dollars in money jars placed around town. With everyone doing their part and with a little over one million dollars raised, the community was hopeful when the auction time arrived.
On Friday the 22nd of February, the surrounding Yellow Springs community Gathered together to save Whitehall Farm. Crowds gathered at the auction on a cold February morning at the Holiday Inn in Springfield. Protesters rallied outside the hotel to show their support. Inside, some 800 people packed into a ballroom to witness the auction. The farm was being sold off as individual parcels. TLT could not save them all with what little funds they had. In walk the angels, Dave and Sharen Neuhardt, who had only five years ago purchased the Whitehall mansion. They realized that if they wanted to ensure that business and developers did not creep into their backyard, they were going to have to buy the whole farm. With only $1,500 in savings account, the Neruhardt’s approached TLT and various farmers securing the 3.275 million necessary to buy all 940 acres of the farm. A few handshakes later, the deal was done and the auctioneer delivered all of the Whitehall Farm into the hands of Dave and Sharen Neuhardt. Those rallying outside broke into thunderous applause and celebration. By April 15th, the deal was finalized and the grassroots movement to save the Historic Whitehall Farm came to a happy end.