Join the LWV of the Oberlin Area in welcoming the Executive Director of LWV of Ohio, Jen Miller for an evening of inspiration. Jen will address the audience about legislative issues of primary concern to the League, the status of redistricting reform in Ohio and other important topics of interest to our membership and invited elected officials.
Hors d'oeuvres and drinks will be served.
History of Henry's Barn:
In 1885, 20 years after the Civil War came to a close, construction began on the Johnson estate located at 216 South Professor St., Oberlin, OH. Businessman Albert H. Johnson and his wife, Rebecca Johnson (an 1866 graduate of Oberlin College) were both very civically minded and contributed to the growth and success of the entire town of Oberlin. The mansion on the estate's Queen Anne style and the adjacent barn's 2nd empire style revealed the pride and individuality of the time of their construction. The barn itself was a unique piece of architecture boasting a mansion-style roof and timber-frame construction.
Because of Oberlin's openness to integration and equal rights of African-Americans, it was a common place for escaped slaves to relocate to and seek freedom, education and opportunity. At their South Professor St. home, the Johnsons employed several servants, including an African-American former-slave named Henry R. Thomas. He cared for the entire estate, including the mansion, barn, carriages and landscape. Through his years of work with the Johnson family, Henry became a reliable and valuable part of the Johnson home and the town of Oberlin. After Albert Johnson's tragic death in 1899, Henry continued to work for Rebecca Johnson. After her passing in 1915, the Johnson family provided an income for life for Henry.
Henry Thomas was born into slavery in Virginia around 1857 near the banks of the Ohio River. His home of Tyler County was a collection of farms and orchards that depended on slave labor. As a young child, Henry was sold twice. Two Quaker abolitionistsnamed George and Sarah Jenkins operated out of Mount Pleasant, OH near the present-day West Virginia border. They helped to free Henry Thomas and sent him north to find work in the household of their daughter and son-in-law, Rebecca and Albert H. Johnson.
A man named Charles Martin Hall purchased the Johnson estate in 1911 and donated it to Oberlin College. In 2016, when the barn was no longer in use, Oberlin College made the connection with the Lorain County Metro Parks to obtain it. Richard and Kathleen Nord struck up an agreement with the Metro Parks to donate the land on U.S. Rt. 20 as long as the barn was re-imagined on this land in order to celebrate the rich history associated with the original barn on the Johnson estate.
When the original barn that sat on the Johnson estate was dismantled, careful documentation took place to assess how the barn was constructed so that it could be re-assembled again as it was. The original framework was reused and all of the original barn siding has been used as the interior walls of the newly constructed Henry's Barn.