We need a cake large enough to hold 150 candles, because the Oberlin Heritage Center’s historic Monroe House is celebrating a big birthday.
Built in 1866, the beautifully preserved Italianate-style brick building will celebrate the milestone with an open house from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 10.
The Monroe House serves as the nonprofit’s main office and is a focal point of its guided history tours. For the sesquicentennial celebrations, visitors will have the chance to explore behind-the-scenes from attic to basement.
The young at heart can also enjoy the Little Red Schoolhouse, which will be open for tours and old-fashioned games inside and out.
The free event is part of the Ohio Open Doors initiative taking place all over the state from Sept. 9-18, with historic sites posting special tours and activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Historic Preservation Act signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson in 1966.
The Monroe House was built for Gen. Giles Shurtleff (1831-1904) and his wife, Mary Burton Shurtleff (1836-1924).
Shurtleff was a Civil War veteran who commanded the first African American regiment from Ohio in the Union Army. He owned the house only a short time before he sold it in 1870 to James (1821-1898) and Julia Finney (1837-1930) Monroe.
A professor at Oberlin College, James Monroe was widely respected as an abolitionist, a friend of Frederick Douglass, and a politician who served as a U.S. consul to Brazil and also was a five-term U.S. congressman.
Julia Monroe led local charity projects and was the daughter of Charles Grandison Finney, an internationally known minister and leader of Oberlin College.
The Monroe family occupied the house for 60 years.
Open house visitors can learn more about the Shurtleffs and Monroes, as well as other former inhabitants, as they have the opportunity to look closely in the nooks and crannies of all corners of the house.
For more information, visit www.oberlinheritagecenter.org or call 440-774-1700.
Courtesy photo The Monroe House has been home to colorful characters such as Gen. Giles Shurtleff, who commanded the first African American regiment from Ohio in the Union Army during the Civil War.