Friday, November 30, 2012

Seven Chimneys

Emily visits Grandpa's old house
Here is some local history that isn't on a sign or easily found in a book or even on a single web page. If you drove by this house you might say "look at that old house" and notice how it looks out of place surrounded by more modern homes and strip malls. Then you might never give it a second thought.

I first learned of the home I'd always known as Seven Chimneys from my Dad who lived in this area when he was a boy. In fact, he lived in this house from 1951-1956 when he was about my daughter Emily's age in the photo. I've stopped by here years ago and even went inside once but I had no idea of the history otherwise. I did a little bit of research and found some interesting information that even my Dad did not know.

Located on Cincinnati-Columbus Road in West Chester Township OH, Seven Chimney had other names throughout the years, such as Shenstone Eagle Tavern, James D. Conrey House, and the Colonial Farm Restaurant. It was originally built in 1839 in a U-shape and had 14 rooms each with its own fireplace. It once had a courtyard which is now enclosed. You can see the U shape and the enclosure in the aerial photo along with all "seven chimneys" for the 14 fireplaces. If you would like more information on the home's design, this website has a very detailed description of the interior and exterior of "Spread Eagle Tavern", the original name. (The link no longer works here is the Wikipedia entry for the home)

All seven chimneys, courtesy of Bing "birds eye" maps
The now private 4000 sq ft residence is believed to be the oldest standing building in West Chester Township and one of the only examples of Jeffersonian architecture in the area.
James D. Conrey, a Methodist minister who owned the house in the 1840s used the building as a stopover on the Underground Railroad for escaped slaves fleeing the South. It also happens to be the stagecoach stop mentioned in Chapter 9 of the 1852 anti-slavery novel "Uncle Tom's Cabin" by Harriet Beecher Stowe.

The structure was placed on the National Historical Register of Historic Places in 2003.