Next Meeting: Thurs, Feb 8, 7:30pm at Barlow Community Center. Learn about grassroots effort to save home with strong ties to the Underground Railroad.
February Speakers to Describe Work to Save House With Ties to Underground Railroad
On February 8, Hudson Heritage Association will host volunteers from Oviatt House Inc. when they describe the grassroots effort to save a home in Richfield with strong ties to the Underground Railroad. Slated for demolition until the community stepped forward, the home was built in 1836 by Mason Oviatt, nephew to Hudson’s Heman Oviatt, and a friend to famed abolitionist John Brown, who spent time in Richfield and at the home as he worked to support the network of routes and stops that moved enslaved individuals from the South to eventual freedom in free states and Canada. Today, the house is listed on the National Park Service Network to Freedom and is part of a 336-acre park known as Richfield Heritage Preserve – Ohio’s Hidden Treasure™.
Oviatt House board members Tricia Steiner and Ken Brown will share details of the home’s history – from its beginnings as a place where Mason and his wife Fanny raised 11 children, to the subsequent generations of Oviatts who lived there, to its eventual sale in 1919 to James Kirby, the inventor of the Kirby vacuum cleaner, and its transfer in 1937 to the Cleveland Girl Scout Council. They will describe the condition the house was in when the nonprofit acquired it, details of the home’s construction, and the work that has been done over the past two years by volunteers to restore it to its original condition. They also will describe ongoing fundraising efforts and plans to operate the house as an educational museum.
The February 8 meeting, which begins at 7:30 p.m. at the Barlow Community Center, is free and open to the public. Refreshments will be served following the presentation.