The work of three history lovers has been honored by the City of Wyoming with an historical marker at Hilltop Park. Their efforts have preserved valuable green space and two important, historic homes.
The new historical marker commemorates the work of Katie Stonebarger Bond (1909-1993), Henry Bond (1906-1992), and Ann Louise Richardson Helmsderfer (1921-2013). The three longtime Wyoming residents were all founding members of the Wyoming Historical Society. Katie Bond and Ann Louise Helmsderfer were among the first recipients of the Wyoming Historical Society’s Robert Reily Award.
The historical marker, at the southwest corner of Hilltop Park, was dedicated at a ceremony on November 30. Prior to selling their home at 901 Reily Road, across from Hilltop Park, Katie and Henry Bond donated over four acres of their property to the Nature Conservancy to ensure it remains undeveloped. As described on the marker, the land was once covered with forests before the arrival of settlers in the 1800s. The Bonds were among the first Wyoming residents to designate part of their Wyoming land as perpetual forest.
In addition to preserving undeveloped land, the Bonds worked diligently to protect some of Wyoming’s oldest buildings. They successfully thwarted plans by a developer in the 1970s who wanted to tear down the Friend-Riddle House at 507 Springfield Pike (across from the library) to build apartments. The house is one of the oldest homes in Wyoming, dating to 1834. The Bonds purchased the house themselves and then found buyers willing to rehab the brick home.
Before Helmsderfer’s death, she remarked to her son, John, that she wanted to honor Katie (and Henry) Bond for their preservation efforts. John Helmsderfer sponsored the marker and worked with Sherry Sheffield of the Wyoming Historical Society. They agreed it would be appropriate to recognize Helmsderfer, too, for her preservation work. Helmsderfer, known as Annie Lou, was passionate about Wyoming history, and was a generous donor to projects she felt preserved that history. For years, she quietly paid for painting and repairs to the Presbyterian Church manse, located at 217 Wyoming Avenue. Helmsderfer wanted to ensure the longterm preservation of the manse, built in the 1870s by George Stearns, a co-founder of Stearns and Foster Mattress Company. Her vision and generous donations enabled the Gothic Revival house to be transformed from a home for the minister into an office/community place, now the Healing Space.