Sunday, March 30, 2003

Haven for escaped slaves to have its history marked


Bicentennial Notebook

By Randy McNutt
The Cincinnati Enquirer

FAIRHAVEN - The old house has seen a lot of history in nearly two centuries. Now, its story will be official.

An Ohio historical marker will be dedicated at the Bunker Hill House, 7919 Ohio 177 in Preble County, at 2 p.m. May 18.

"The Bunker Hill House stands as a silent sentinel commemorating the pioneers who trudged across these lands searching for a better way of life in an expanding America, and to the slaves who journeyed through this area in the dark of night and risked their lives in their incredible struggle toward freedom and hope," said Walt Mast, owner of the house.

Formerly the Bunker Hill Tavern, the building was constructed in stages between 1834 and 1862. It is one of Ohio's best examples of the Federal-Greek Revival style and "pike town" architecture, known in the pre-Civil War turnpike era.

Mast said the building was "a way station for pioneers heading west and for drovers driving their animals to Cincinnati stockyards." It was also a stagecoach stop on the Eastern Stage Coach Co.'s Cincinnati Omnibus Line, which operated daily between Cincinnati and Richmond, Ind.

He said the building was also a stop on the Underground Railroad, and is designated an Official Ohio Underground Railroad Historic Site by the Friends of Freedom Society. The house is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

"Runaway slaves traveled secretively along the adjacent Four Mile Creek and entered the back of the building for refuge as they journeyed toward Canada and freedom," Mast said.

He dedicates the marker to their memory.

It is financed jointly by the Ohio Bicentennial Commission, the P&G Fund, and the Longaberger Basket Co.

The building - known for its many windows - is a prominent piece of architecture in the small town that features lots of antiques shops.

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ANDERSON TOWNSHIP-The Forest-Aires women's chorus will celebrate Ohio's bicentennial at its spring show, "Encore! 2003."

The program will be at 8 p.m. April 11-12 at Anderson High School, at Forest Road and Beechmont Avenue, behind the Forest Hills Kroger.

Tickets, $8, may be purchased at the door, or call 232-4736. Seniors and children 12 and younger may buy tickets for $7.

The program musically explores Ohio's air and space pioneers, sports teams, the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, singers Doris Day and Rosemary Clooney, and Western figures such as Roy Rogers, Annie Oakley and Zane Grey.

Proceeds will help pay for voice lessons for high school students.

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SPRINGBORO - Organizers of the Ohio Freedom Festival, May 17-18, are looking for crafters who focus on the Civil War era.

Committee member Helen Sproat said the crafters will be asked to dress in period clothes and demonstrate the making of items appropriate to the era.

The festival will celebrate Springboro's Underground Railroad history. Re-enactors will portray runaway slaves and county hunters. Guided tours of the historic downtown will be given.

Information: Call Sproat at (937) 748-2192.

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COLLEGE HILL - As a celebration of Ohio's bicentennial, students at McAuley High School created displays of famous Buckeyes. They gave class presentations on the Ohioans and exhibited related posters throughout the school.

The main lobby featured a central exhibit showing Cincinnati's steamboat history.

Students also took a bicentennial quiz to test their knowledge of Ohio history.

The winners: senior Erin Walsh, first place; freshman Katie Vogt, second place; sophomore Linda Crooker, third place; senior Katie Skeeters, fourth place; and sophomore Ann Nedderman, fifth place.

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LIBERTY TOWNSHIP-The Liberty Township Bicentennial Committee has received a $2,500 grant from the Cinergy Foundation to help commemorate the history of Butler County and promote its bicentennial bell casting.

The bell will be cast at Lakota East High School on July 4-5.

Cinergy Foundation is the philanthropic arm of the Cincinnati Gas & Electric Co.

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HAMILTON - Donald M. Hassler, a Kent State University professor and science fiction critic and editor, will speak at the Lane Public Library at 2 p.m. today His talk, an Ohio bicentennial program, will help promote the Smithsonian Institution's traveling science fiction exhibit, "Yesterday's Tomorrows" at the Butler County Historical Society Museum. It will be on view until April 18.

Information: Web site.

Bicentennial Notebook appears periodically. Send news to Randy McNutt, the Enquirer, 7700 Service Center Drive, West Chester, Township OH 45069. Telephone: 755-4158. Fax: 755-4150. E-mail: rmcnutt@enquirer.com.




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