Mount Pleasant summer tour nears

In today’s fast-paced world, why not take a break and enjoy a visit to a less-hurried era?

On Saturday and Sunday, the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, is once again inviting history lovers to tour the quaint village, featuring its National Historic Landmark District.

Mount Pleasant was founded in 1803 and developed as an early hub for the Quaker faith in Eastern Ohio. In 1814, the Quaker Meeting House was established as the first yearly meeting house west of the Alleghenies.

Benjamin Lundy, considered to be the “father of American abolitionism,” called Mount Pleasant home, as did numerous other abolitionists and anti-slavery luminaries. Over the years large-scale development bypassed Mount Pleasant, leaving the village today much as it appeared in the mid-19th century.

The village retains numerous structures listed on the National Register of Historic Places and in 2005 was designated as a National Historic Landmark District by the U.S. Department of the Interior.

Five documented Underground Railroad stations still stand within the village, including the Benjamin Lundy/Free Labor Store. This unique structure housed three anti-slavery activities – a trap door in a closet served as a hiding place for escaped slaves; Benjamin Lundy lived here while writing “The Genius of Universal Emancipation”; and the home served as a “Free Labor Store,” an early economic effort to end slavery, where nothing was bought or sold that had been produced by slave labor.

The Quaker Yearly Meeting House State Memorial will be open for viewing and interpretation before a major restoration process begins, closing the building until next summer. This important structure will celebrate 200 years in 2014 and celebration plans for next year’s tour already are under way.

Other historical society properties on the tour include the Harris-Bone Store (1804), the Historical Center (1856), the Tin Shop (1840), the Burriss Store (1895) and the John Gill Home (1835), now known as the Elizabeth House, where light refreshments will be available in the tea room. Additionally four private homes, one garden and one porch will be open during the tour.

Private homes on the tour include the 1840 Benjamin Stanton house, located directly across the street from the Elizabeth House. The house is an asymmetrical four-bay brick “I” house, now owned by Jamie Holmes. It exhibits Flemish bond brickwork, 6-over-6 windows, stone lintels and sills.

Also next door to the Elizabeth House is the 1846 J.T. Updegraff House. Dr. Jonathan Taylor Updegraff was a noted physician and three-time Congressman. As a Quaker, he was opposed to war, but he served as surgeon during the Civil War.

Updegraff later became a state senator and in 1878 was elected to Congress. The porch of his home, owned by John and Joanne Curritti, may be enjoyed. John Curritti undertook substantial historical renovations to the porch and house. The oil paintings of Joanne’s mother, Louise Alvarez, will be displayed there.

New to the tour this year is the Abe Dilworth Rowhouse, owned by Morgan and Joni Elerick-Coast. Elerick was raised in Mount Pleasant and always dreamed of owning a home whose walls whispered stories of days gone by. They purchased the home just one year ago and reside there on weekends.

The ca. 1815 six-bay rowhouse originally was constructed as a three-bay “half-house,” with a mid-19th century three-bay addition. The house has undergone substantial restoration, and an impressive collection of antique furniture helps to bring back the 19th century character.

Visitors will also be able to view clothing, artifacts and papers dating back to the 1820s that were uncovered during restoration.

Back by popular demand is the home of Gary Reynard and Justin McCrea, located at 84 Union St. A crowd favorite from last year, this unique structure was the result of combining two homes. One home, the ca. 1830 J. Brown house, and another built in 1918 were combined to create the present home. Reynard can trace his family history in Mount Pleasant back to 1827. When he walked through the front door of the house in August 2011, he knew instantly this was to be his home. At the Reynard home, visitors may view an impressive early collection of Steubenville pottery as well as an exhibition of paintings by local artist Harold Reynard, a great-great cousin of Gary.

At both the Elerick-Coast and Reynard houses tour participants can sample a selection of wines and cheeses.

Another new house to this year’s tour is the ca. 1893 M. Alexander house, now owned by Justin and Jennifer Redinger. Jennifer notes she had always admired the house and jumped on the opportunity to purchase it in 2011. This interesting home had several additions in the early 1900s and features a seven-light transom, sidelights, Doric columns, bay windows, entablatures and beautiful woodwork.

Finally, visitors can enjoy the “Hidden Garden” of Mount Pleasant residents Pete and Jean Petras. Visitors will be amazed with the array and arrangement of plants and flowers, according to tour organizers. Petras is known for the bountiful results as each plant is nurtured from a seedling. These gardens always prove to be a favorite with tour participants, according to a news release.

At the Freedom Square, visitors can enjoy a barbecued chicken dinner, offered by the Mount Pleasant Volunteer Fire Department. On Saturday from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m., Roz & Lynn, a mother/daughter duo, will entertain guests in the gazebo at Freedom Square.

Authentically costumed dancers from the Heritage Dance Association will add ambiance throughout town. Local historians Lyle Zerla and Jon-Erik Gilot will offer Civil War displays and presentations throughout the weekend.

Tour participants also are encouraged to visit the Farm Restaurant & Pub and Black Sheep Vineyard, located just outside Mount Pleasant. Built in 1857, the Farm Restaurant and Pub is located at 1247 state Rte. 150 and offers visitors an American fare menu as well as interior or outdoor seating. Located about one mile from the Farm at 1454 US Route 250 is Black Sheep Vineyard. Black Sheep is a small, family-owned vineyard offering 10 wines, as well as bread, cheese and fruit platters. The vineyard is situated around a restored barn with comfortable lofts and a large deck.

This year’s tour will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sunday. Particicpants should allow at least two and one half hours to complete the tour. Prices are $15 for adults and $7 for children age 613. Admission is free for children under age 5. Tickets are sold at the Burriss Store on Union Street, across from People’s National Bank. Proceeds benefit the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant, a totally volunteer 5013C non-profit group founded in 1948 whose funding is received from tour revenues, membership dues and the support of individuals.

To become a member of the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant send a check for $15 to the Historical Society of Mount Pleasant, Ohio, c/o Treasurer Judi Roberts, P.O. Box 102, Mount Pleasant, OH 43939.

Members receive the Town Crier Newsletter, which is published twice a year.

Mount Pleasant is located in Jefferson County on state Route 150 (an Ohio Scenic Byway), located 4 miles from state Route 250 and 11 miles from state Route 7.