Perspectives

WOUB’s Evan Shaw Creates Historical “Our Town: Nelsonville”


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Award-winning film producer and director Evan Shaw has just completed his third historical documentary in WOUB’s Our Town series. This time his target is Nelsonville and its surrounding areas.

The purpose of the WOUB series is to highlight the history and rich heritage of different parts of our Appalachian region.
The film will premiere Saturday evening, March 19 at 7:30 at the Nelsonville-York High School. Admission is free. The show also will be seen WOUB-TV Monday, March 21 at 8 and 9:30 p.m.

Shaw talks with WOUB’s Tom Hodson and tells him how the film was constructed and the historical research necessary to make a film like this.

The film goes deep into the rich history of Nelsonville and its linkage to the development of Ohio. It was prominent in producing coal, bricks, and the formation of unions.

“Columbus and other cities in Ohio were built and maintained by Nelsonville brick and area coal,” Shaw says.

The rich resources of the region brought prominence to the small town of Nelsonville and to York Township.

“Until the 1920’s, Nelsonville was the largest city in Athens Co.,” Shaw says. “The City of Athens was just that place where the University was. Nelsonville was the biggest and most important city in the county.”

Nelsonville also was a city of culture and the Stuart’s Opera House played a significant role in the city’s life.

To make the film, Shaw has spent months researching the region and interviewing people who know the deep history of the area.
“It is so important to tell the story of a place accurately and to highlight the significant events. I want people to be proud of their heritage and where they come from,” Shaw says.

After doing films about Lancaster, Pomeroy and now Nelsonville, Shaw is amazed at the differences between the three communities.

“They are all considered Appalachia but they are all different and unique in their own ways,” Shaw notes.
The film was made in partnership with the Barbara Geralds Institute for Storytelling and Social Impact at Ohio University.