Benfield Wines in The Historic Pilliod Opera House

Welcome to the Pilliod Opera House, a historic landmark located in the heart of Swanton, Ohio. Built in 1896, this beautiful building was once a thriving cultural and social center that hosted many events including musical performances, lectures, and theatrical productions.

In 2019, Julia and Rob Benfield, the owners of Benfield Wines, purchased the Pilliod Opera House with the vision of restoring this beautiful building to its former glory. The Benfields have been working hard to renovate and repurpose the building as a working winery and modern event space.

The restoration process has been extensive, and the Benfield's have taken great care to preserve the building's unique architecture and historical significance. The building's red brick exterior walls have been restored to their original condition, and the first floor of the building has been updated to include modern amenities while maintaining its historical charm.

The Pilliod Opera House has a rich history, and it has faced its fair share of challenges over the years. On March 28, 1920, an F4 tornado struck Swanton, and the Pilliod Opera House was severely damaged. The iconic tower was destroyed, along with the stage and proscenium arch on the second floor. While the building was rebuilt, the tower, stage, and proscenium arch were not restored.

Over the years, the second floor of the Pilliod Opera House has been used for a variety of purposes, including a bowling alley, indoor golf course, and a basketball court. While the Benfield's have concentrated their work on the first floor, they have plans to restore the second floor in the future.

The new Pilliod Opera House is available for small weddings and other special events. The elegant first floor will provide a beautiful and unique backdrop for events of all types. The Benfield family is proud to be a part of the Swanton community and is committed to preserving the town's rich history. They believe that the restored Pilliod Opera House will be a valuable asset to the community, providing a unique space for cultural and social events for generations to come.

If you're interested in learning more about the Pilliod Opera House or hosting an event at this historic venue, please contact Julia Benfield for more information. We look forward to sharing this special place with you.
We are currently seeking historical photographs of the interior of the Pilliod Opera House. We are working to restore the building to its former glory and want to ensure that we are as faithful to its original design as possible. If you have any photographs or information about the interior of the building, please contact us. Your contributions will help us better understand the building's history and ensure that we can accurately restore its unique features. Thank you for your help in this effort.

Historical Photo Restorations

The Wine Guy is proud to present a collection of restored photos, which were brought back to life using the power of artificial intelligence (AI). The images you see below were once faded, damaged, or degraded, but thanks to the latest AI algorithms and techniques, they have been restored to their original glory. With advanced algorithms that can learn from vast amounts of data, the AI software used by The Wine Guy was able to analyze the images and automatically remove scratches, stains, and other imperfections. The software also restored lost or damaged details, such as faded colors, torn edges, and missing pixels, making the photos look as good as new.

To see the remarkable transformation for yourself, simply use the sliders provided below on each image to compare the before and after results. Please note that the restoration is best viewed on a PC or laptop, although it should still work on a mobile device. We hope that you enjoy these restored photos as much as we enjoyed bringing them back to life using the latest AI techniques. 
Seating for 500 with oil lighting and coal-burning stoves for heating!

F4 Tornado March 28, 1920

On March 28, 1920, a large outbreak of at least 37 tornadoes, 31 of which were significant, took place across the Midwestern and Southern United States. The tornadoes left at least 153 dead and at least 1,215 injured. Many communities and farmers alike were caught off-guard as the storms moved to the northeast at speeds that reached over 60 mph. Most of the fatalities occurred in Georgia (37), Ohio (28), and Indiana (21), while the other states had lesser totals.

Severe thunderstorms began developing in Missouri during the early morning hours. The storms moved quickly to the northeast towards Chicago, Illinois. The first tornado injured five people 35 mi (56 km) southeast of Springfield, Missouri, in Douglas County. This first tornado was a harbinger of things to come as the morning went on and the atmosphere began to destabilize, due to the abundance of sunshine that preceded the cold front in the warm sector, which covered the lower Great Lakes region extending southward well past the Ohio River Valley.

The tornadoes that struck the western counties of Darke, Defiance, Mercer, Paulding, and Van Wert in Ohio on March 28, 1920, originated in the Hoosier State, quickly moving across the state line into Ohio.

The first of the tornadoes began in Indiana around 6:15 p.m. EDT. Probably part of a tornado family, it touched down near the Wells County community of Ossian. Increasing rapidly in size and intensity, the tornado was reported by eyewitnesses to have resembled a very large, low-hanging mass of turbulent clouds that resembled a boiling pot of oatmeal. This may have accounted for the deaths and injuries of so many farmers within its path, since many farmers were usually accustomed to taking shelter during dangerous weather situations. The tornado caused nine deaths on farms outside Ossian. The tornado then destroyed nearly every building at Townley. Four people died there as the entire town was devastated. The powerful tornado subsequently hit Edgerton before entering Ohio. In Indiana the tornado destroyed numerous farms, leveled at least 100 buildings, killed 13 people, and left behind $1,000,000 in damage (1920 USD) in the state. It later became the first of three tornadoes to move into Ohio, this time from Allen County, Indiana.

After moving through Paulding County, the tornado alternately lifted and dipped to the ground, possibly even reforming as a separate tornado, as it moved into the Defiance area. Here several homes and a small store were destroyed and six people lost their lives. The violent tornado then moved northeast into Henry and Fulton Counties, tearing through the town of Swanton, located near Brunersburg, and causing major damage. Many factories, shops, and homes were completely demolished. According to the Toledo Blade newspaper, the central business district sustained very heavy damage along Main Street, extending into nearby residential areas, where the damage became more intense. This damage brought out many thieves who looted local businesses and houses that had been hit by the tornado. Continuing on, the tornado then caused isolated damage to farms and trees as it passed into rural areas.

Increasing in size as it moved into northwest Lucas County, the tornado produced increasingly severe damage, as buildings and homes were swept clean of their foundations, before leveling the entire community of Raab Corners, also called "Rab's Corners" or "Rabb's Corner", in Lucas County. Farmhouses and other buildings were leveled as the violent tornado, 1⁄2 mi (0.80 km) wide at this point, moved towards Raab Corners. The residents of Raab Corners were largely unaware of the impending danger as they celebrated Palm Sunday services at the Immaculate Conception and St. Mary's Churches that evening. Just after 8:00 p.m. EDT rain and small hail started to come down in torrents. As the power went out churchgoers lighted kerosene lamps to illuminate the interior of their buildings, and to continue their Palm Sunday services, when the winds began to increase followed by large hail that shattered all the windows. Around 8:15 p.m. EDT, a solid black wall of swirling clouds proceeded to engulf Raab Corners, destroying everything in its path and killing four people. Local residents decided not to rebuild the town, moving to nearby communities in Michigan and Ohio. Today, only an intersection remains at once was the main four corners.

Wikipedia contributors. (2022, February 2). 1920 Palm Sunday tornado outbreak. In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia.

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