The historic club in East Canton, Ohio, where the late William Powell created the first golf course in the U.S. designed, constructed and owned by a Black person, now plans to build a 5,800-sq. ft. Powell Education Center that will include an archival area and museum. The complex would also host a new structure for functions and gatherings. “We will get it started sometime this year and be ready next year,” says Renee Powell, Clearview’s head golf professional and William Powell’s daughter. “It is to educate people. We have memorabilia from several years, and people coming in from all over the country.”
After nearly three-quarters of a century of offering the game of golf to the public, Clearview Golf Club in East Canton, Ohio wants to give visitors an inside look into the historic facility’s history and legacy, The Repository of Canton, Ohio reported.
The club was built in the late 1940s on what had been a dairy farm by the late William Powell, who was denied an opportunity because he was Black to play golf on area courses upon returning to the United States after serving in Europe during World War II. His determination to play was so strong, that Powell, who died in 2009 at age 93, embarked on constructing his own course and became the first Black person to design, construct and own a professional golf course in the United States.
The golf course started out as a nine-hole facility and was expanded to 18 holes in 1978. Clearview GC is now listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Plans now call for Clearview GC to build a 5,800-sq. ft. complex that will be known as the Powell Education Center, The Repository reported. One element of the facility will be an archival area or museum.
“We will get it started sometime this year,” said Renee Powell, Clearview’s head golf professional and daughter of William Powell, who has played on the Ladies Professional Golf Association Tour and was inducted into the Professional Golfers Association Hall of Fame. Powell’s son Larry now serves as Clearview’s course Superintendent.
“If we get it started this year, we will be ready next year,” Renee Powell added. “It will be like a museum. We have got people coming in from all over the country. We have memorabilia from several years. It is to educate people.”
The projected cost of the Powell Education Center is $1.1 million, according to plans filed with the Stark County (Ohio) Building Department, The Repository reported. The education center will be on the west side of the complex.
A new east-side building will house a conference center, according to the filed plans, The Repository reported. However, Renee Powell said conference center is not an apt description. She said it is more of a gathering site for guests who are at Clearview GC for various occasions.
“When people finish playing golf, they will go in there,” Powell said. “It will be a permanent place rather than a tent. We are having functions from the golf outings there. Some golf courses have a dining area. That is what it will be.”
The complex, according to Stark County Building Department plans, will also include an office, lobby, catering area and restrooms, The Repository reported.
Part of launching the Powell Education Center project involved securing the proper zoning clearance from the township Board of Zoning Appeals, The Repository reported. The project was approved for a nonconforming zoning certificate.
“The zoning out there right now is rural-residential,” township Zoning Inspector Merri Braucher said. “It would normally be like a business zoning. The golf course is technically a business. It was grandfathered in. The golf course was established before our zoning was voted in.”
Where the Powell Education Center will sit is an existing structure that is to be razed, The Repository reported. According to plans that Renee Powell divulged to Stark County Regional Planning Commission, the Powell Education Center will be used to host youth programs such as Pro-Am Tour events.
“It is going to be an education conference center,” said township Trustee Randall Pero. “It sounds like a pretty good thing for the township. They have got plenty of room out there. I am sure we are for this. Anything they can do for education or to attract people to our township is a good thing.”
The property is owned by the Powell Family Limited Partnership, The Repository reported.
“I think they [the Powell family] have done a lot of good for the game,” Matt Lefferts of the Ohio Golf Association told The Repository. “I really think they have given golfers a place to play the game and be comfortable. Renee has kept it going. She is nationally known in the golf community.”
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