Ohio: Other Historic Sites Summary

  • Last updated on November 10, 2022

A list of important historic sites in Ohio.

Cincinnati Observatory

Location: Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: In the late nineteenth century, the Cincinnati Observatory was known worldwide for its endeavors in the fields of proper motions, gravitational studies, and sidereal astronomy, including double stars, nebulas, and clusters. It is nationally significant for the publication of Stellar Proper Motions, which provided data important in determining the structure and rotation of the Milky Way, and provided data utilized in modern cosmological theories, such as the big bang. It is also significant for its association with internationally renowned astronomer Paul Herget, who was director of the observatory from 1946 to 1978.

Cincinnati Zoo Historic Structures

Location: Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Cultural history

Statement of significance: The second oldest zoo in the United States, it opened to the public in September, 1875. Significant for the antiquity and richness of its collections and for its efforts in the propagation and nurture of rare and endangered species, it was well known as the home of “Martha,” the last passenger pigeon. The Aviary, where Martha lived, and the original Monkey House and Herbivore (Elephant) House are the zoo’s earliest surviving structures.

Cooke Home

Location: Gibraltar Island, Ottawa County

Relevant issues: Business and industry, Civil War

Statement of significance: From 1865 until his death, this Hight Victorian structure was the summer home of Jay Cooke (1821-1905), the “Napoleon of Finance.” During the Civil War, bond sales by financier Cooke were an important source of financial support for the Union. The failure of his banking firm caused the Panic of 1873.

Dunbar House

Location: Dayton, Montgomery County

Relevant issues: African American history, literary history

Statement of significance: From 1903 until his death, this modest two-story red brick structure was the residence of Paul Laurence Dunbar (1872-1906), the distinguished African American poet. His poetic use of black dialect to convey both the joys and the sorrows of an oppressed people brought him national acclaim.

Edison Birthplace

Location: Milan, Erie County

Relevant issues: Science and technology

Statement of significance: This small brick cottage was the birthplace of Thomas Alva Edison (1847-1931), one of America’s most illustrious inventors. Although he left here in 1854, Edison cherished the memory of this house; in 1906, he acquired it from his sister.

Fallen Timbers Battlefield

Location: Maumee, Lucas County

Relevant issues: American Indian history, military history, western expansion

Statement of significance: On August 20, 1794, General “Mad Anthony” Wayne’s victory here over the Indians at Fallen Timbers asserted American sovereignty in the Old Northwest and made possible the Treaty of Green Ville. The battle and treaty insured a period of peaceful settlement in the Ohio Country long enough for the new nation to consolidate its hold on the Northwest Territory.

Fort Ancient

Location: Lebanon, Warren County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This hilltop area with large surrounding earthworks was built and inhabited by people of the Hopewell culture (c. 300 b.c.e.-250 c.e.). Hundreds of years after the site had been abandoned by the Hopewell, the Fort Ancient people (1200-1600 c.e.) settled in the area, establishing villages on the south fort of the earthworks and the Anderson Village site.

Fort Meigs

Location: Perrysburg, Wood County

Relevant issues: Military history

Statement of significance: Built by General William Henry Harrison during the War of 1812, the fort withstood a British siege the next year. It was abandoned in 1815, after the signing of the Treaty of Ghent.

Garfield Home

Location: Mentor, Lake County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: From 1876 until his death at the hands of an assassin, Lawnfield was the residence of James A. Garfield (1831-1881), twentieth president of the United States. In 1880, Garfield was selected by the Republican Party as its candidate for the presidency after thirty-six ballots; Garfield ran his campaign from this house, composing many of his campaign speeches in the second-floor study.

Giddings Law Office

Location: Jefferson, Ashtabula County

Relevant issues: Legal history, social reform

Statement of significance: For most of his professional life, this small, two-room frame structure was the law office of Joshua Reed Giddings (1785-1864), abolitionist and congressman (1838-1859). While in Congress, he made his unwavering objective the elimination of slavery by every conceivable political measure–nonextension of slavery to the territories, abolition of the slave trade, even the use of the president’s war powers to emancipate the slaves.

Grant Boyhood Home

Location: Georgetown, Brown County

Relevant issues: Military history, political history

Statement of significance: From 1823, when he was brought here as an infant, until he left to enter the U.S. Military Academy in 1839, this was the home of Ulysses S. Grant (1822-1885), one of the great captains in Western military history and the eighteenth president of the United States.

Harding Home

Location: Marion, Marion County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: From 1890 until his death, this two-story clapboard house was the residence of Warren G. Harding (1865-1923), twenty-ninth president of the United States (1921-1923). Harding spent most of his adult life in this house, which he and his wife planned before their marriage. He conducted his 1920 “front porch” presidential campaign from here.

Hawthorn Hill

Location: Oakwood, Montgomery County

Relevant issues: Aviation history

Statement of significance: Significant for its association with Wilbur and Orville Wright, inventors of the airplane, Hawthorn Hill (1914) represents the direct expression of the wealth and fame reaped by the Wright Brothers as a result of their accomplishment. Many of the mechanical features of the house were designed by Orville Wright and reflect his creative genius. For thirty-four years, this house was the gathering place for the greats and near greats in the history of American aviation.

Hotel Breakers

Location: Sandusky, Erie County

Relevant issues: Cultural history, sports

Statement of significance: Constructed in 1905, this is one of the few remaining major resort hotels from the turn-of-the-century age of the resort hotel in America. A large, late Victorian chateau-like structure, it is a rare instance of a resort hotel that survives in conjunction with an amusement park. The grounds were the site of events of historic interest such as the perfecting of the forward pass by Knute Rockne and Gus Dorais.

Huffman Prairie Flying Field

Location: Fairborn, Greene County

Relevant issues: Aviation history

Statement of significance: The Huffman Prairie Flying Field is the site used by the Wright Brothers from 1904 to 1905 to develop and test the world’s first practical airplane, the Wright Flyer III. It was on this field that the Wright Brothers continued their quest to conquer the air after their return from Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, in 1903. During these years, the Wright Brothers perfected the technique of flying and developed a powered airplane completely controllable by the pilot: able to bank, turn, circle, and make figure eights; withstand repeated takeoffs and landings; and remain airborne trouble-free for more than half an hour.

John Rankin House

Location: 6152 Rankin Road, Ripley, Brown County

Relevant issues: African American history, social reform

Statement of significance: This was the home of Presbyterian minister John Rankin, who is reputed to have been one of Ohio’s first and most active “conductors” on the Underground Railroad. In addition, he wrote Letters on American Slavery, first published in book form in 1826 and among the first clearly articulated antislavery views printed west of the Appalachians. Rankin, along with his wife and children, assisted hundreds of escaped slaves in their trek to freedom. Located on the Ohio River, Rankin’s home (and Ripley, Ohio, in general) were considered one of the first stations on the Underground Railroad. It was here that Harriet Beecher Stowe heard the escaping slave’s story which became the basis for part of her famous work Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Johnson’s Island Civil War Prison

Location: Danbury, Ottawa County

Relevant issues: Civil War, military history

Statement of significance: Johnson’s Island, the site of an important Union camp for Confederate prisoners of war during much of the Civil War, is located 2.5 miles northwest of Sandusky, Ohio, in Sandusky Bay. Johnson’s Island was chosen because of its size (large enough to house the facility and yet small enough to be easily manageable), wood resources (mostly for fuel), and proximity to Sandusky, which would make provisioning possible. Because of its mission as the major depot for the confinement of Confederate general, field, and company grade officers, Johnson’s Island assumes particular significance as a critical element in the war of attrition that brought victory to the Union. Although plots and conspiracies by Confederate agents operating from Canadian sanctuaries and by Northern Copperheads to foment mass escapes came to naught, they compelled the Lincoln administration to divert needed resources of men and materiel from more important theaters of the war.

Kirtland Temple

Location: Kirtland, Lake County

Relevant issues: Religion

Statement of significance: Built in 1834 by members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints during their brief sojourn in Ohio, this structure combines Federal and Gothic Revival design elements. The result is individualistic and typical of those Mormon structures that were the beginning of a series of exotic structures in wood and stone.

Langston House

Location: Oberlin, Lorain County

Relevant issues: African American history, political history

Statement of significance: From 1856 to 1867, this simple clapboard structure was the home of John Mercer Langston (1829-1897), the man who became the first African American elected to public office when he was elected township clerk in 1855. He later served in the Freedman’s Bureau and was the first dean of the Howard University Law School, U.S. representative from Virginia (1890-1891), and minister to Haiti.

Lundy House

Location: Mt. Pleasant, Jefferson County

Relevant issues: African American history, social reform

Statement of significance: In 1820, this was the residence of the abolitionist Benjamin Lundy (1789-1839). Here, in this brick rowhouse, Lundy established his influential antislavery newspaper Genius of Universal Emancipation, one of the germinal chronicles of the antislavery movement in America.

McGuffey Boyhood Home Site

Location: Coitsville Township, Mahoning County

Relevant issues: Education

Statement of significance: From 1802 to about 1817, this was the home of William H. McGuffey (1800-1873), college professor and author, whose elementary school texts–the Eclectic Readers–were used for more than seventy years in schools in every part of the United States.

McKinley Tomb

Location: Canton, Stark County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: This large, circular, domed mausoleum is the resting place of William McKinley (1843-1901), the twenty-fifth president of the United States (1897-1901). His election in 1896 began an era of Republican dominance and also of American expansion in the Caribbean and Far East.

Majestic

Location: Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Cultural history, naval history

Statement of significance: Built in 1923, Majestic is one of two showboats to survive, the other being Goldenrod. Perhaps the most extraordinary American adaptation of barges, more than fifty showboats carried circuses and dramatic productions to large and small towns on the rivers of America between 1831 and the 1920’s.

Oberlin College

Location: Oberlin, Lorain County

Relevant issues: African American history, education, women’s history

Statement of significance: Founded in 1833, Oberlin Collegiate Institute developed into a socially and politically influential college during the years immediately preceding the Civil War. Oberlin made the education of African Americans and women a matter of institutional policy. The admittance of four women in 1837 marked the beginning of coeducation on the collegiate level in the United States; free blacks were admitted on the same basis as whites.

Pendleton House

Location: Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: From 1879 until his death, this was the residence of George Hunt Pendleton (1825-1889), lawyer and politician. As a U.S. senator (1879-1885), Pendleton spearheaded civil service reform. He and his committee met here in 1882 to draft the Pendleton Act, creating the Civil Service Merit System. The Civil Service Commission met here for the first two years of its existence.

Plum Street Temple

Location: Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Religion

Statement of significance: Built in 1865-1666 for B’nai Yeshurun, this is one of the best-preserved Moorish Revival buildings of the nineteenth century. The rabbi at the time of construction was Dr. Isaac Mayer Wise (1819-1900), an important figure in American Judaism. His leadership made Cincinnati a center for Reform Judaism in America.

Rickenbacker House

Location: Columbus, Franklin County

Relevant issues: Aviation history

Statement of significance: From 1895 to 1922, this simple dwelling was the residence of Edward V. Rickenbacker (1890-1973). A leading race car driver prior to World War I, Rickenbacker became a hero as an aviator. His feat of shooting down twenty-six German aircraft in less than six months established him as “American Ace of Aces” and made him the idol of a whole generation of American youth. After the war, Rickenbacker devoted his energies to the developing commercial airline industry.

Serpent Mound

Location: Locust Grove, Adams County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: This giant, earthen snake effigy, the largest and finest in America, probably dates from the Adena period (1000 b.c.e.-200 c.e.). The site is one of the first in the United States to be set aside because of its archaeological value.

Sherman Birthplace

Location: Lancaster, Fairfield County

Relevant issues: Military history, political history

Statement of significance: This is the birthplace of Senior Republican Senator John Sherman (1823-1900), who wrote the Sherman Anti-Trust Act (1890), the first attempt by the federal government to regulate industry. He also served in the U.S. House and as secretary of state. His older brother, William Tecumseh Sherman, Union Army general, was also born here.

Spiegel Grove

Location: Fremont, Sandusky County

Relevant issues: Political history

Statement of significance: Completed in 1863 and later enlarged, Spiegel Grove was built as a summer home for Rutherford B. Hayes (1822-1893), nineteenth president of the United States (1877-1881). Both Hayes and his wife are buried here. A library and museum in a separate structure preserve family memorabilia.

Sunwatch Site

Location: Dayton, Montgomery County

Relevant issues: American Indian history

Statement of significance: Sunwatch, formerly known as the Incinerator Site, is located on the west bank of the Great Miami River within the city limits of Dayton. Ceramics, radiocarbon dates, and other evidence indicate that this open village site is a discrete Fort Ancient period, Anderson phase village probably occupied for not more than twenty-five years during the late twelfth and early thirteenth centuries. The site is one of the best preserved and most completely excavated and analyzed archaeological village sites associated with the Post Archaic Eastern Farmers.

Taft Home

Location: 2038 Auburn Avenue, Cincinnati, Hamilton County

Relevant issues: Legal history, political history

Statement of significance: This is the birthplace and boyhood home of William Howard Taft (1857-1930), twenty-seventh president of the United States (1909-1913), a distinguished jurist who also served as chief justice of the United States. This building is now within the National Park System as the William Howard Taft National Historic Site.

Upton House

Location: Warren, Trumbull County

Relevant issues: Political history, social reform, women’s history

Statement of significance: From 1883 to 1931, this was the home of Harriet Taylor Upton, an important figure in both the woman suffrage movement and the Republican Party; in addition, the house was also the national headquarters of the National American Woman Suffrage Association (NAWSA) from 1903 to 1909, a pivotal period in the organization’s history. Upton, whose father was a prominent congressman, joined the NAWSA in 1890 and put her political resources at the disposal of the organization, where her congressional connections and her astute organizational skills ensured her rapid rise through the ranks.

Wright Cycle Company, Wright and Wright Printing

Location: Dayton, Montgomery County

Relevant issues: Aviation history, business and industry

Statement of significance: This building is the site where, from 1895 to 1897, Wilbur and Orville Wright began to manufacture their own brand of bicycles. This activity contributed the know-how and financial resources critical to their experiments in aviation. Their years of working with sprockets, spokes, chain drives, tires, metals, lathes, drills, and engines were of great value to the pair in designing and building their first gliders and flying machines. The Wright Brothers also operated the Wright Printing Shop on the second floor of the building during these years.

Young House

Location: Wilberforce, Greene County

Relevant issues: African American history, military history

Statement of significance: This two-story brick structure was the residence of Colonel Charles Young (1864-1922), the third African American to graduate from West Point and the highest-ranking black officer of World War I. Young also served as the first black military attache in American history. A distinguished soldier and teacher of military courses, he was nationally known by the time of his death.

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