Morristown, Ohio, is an old National Road town or maybe it's more accurate to say that the National Road is an old Morristown street. The town was there before the road. It was platted in 1802 when Ohio's statehood was still a year away. It got a good start while Wheeling Road, a.k.a. Zane's Trace, was its main thoroughfare. When the National Road came through around 1826, it was placed a block to the south. The first picture is of a fence on the National Road, now called Main Street. The houses in the background are on Zanes Trace, now called Church Street. Thanks to the National Road, Morristown prospered and grew in the early nineteenth century. It peaked in the 1850s as the railroad bypassed it and it became something of a time capsule. Subsequent bypassing by US-40 and I-70 assured that it would stay that way. I've driven through the town numerous times noting the many old houses lining the two east-west streets and wondering what they were like inside.
I don't care too much for the hustle and bustle of Christmas and for several years have arranged to be on the road for the holiday. Recently, however, I have visited some Ohio Christmas attraction before taking off. Last year it was Dickens of a Christmas at Ohio Village. In 2010 I covered my visit to The Lights at Clifton Mill in the first panel of that year's Christmas Escape Run. When I learned that there would be a Holiday Tour of Homes and Churches in Morristown this year, I decided that was the perfect place for a touch of Christmas and a splash of history with a chance to see inside some of those nineteenth century buildings.
Five homes and four churches or former churches were part of the tour. It would be nice to say these were typical Morristown homes but that's simply not the case. More Morristown houses are in need of attention than not. These are the creme de la creme. The owners spent much time and money restoring them and more time and energy decorating them for this tour. Then they spent several hours Saturday and Sunday greeting all the people traipsing through their homes. The ticket money all went to the Morris Town Historic Preservation Association yet every owner had a constant smile and ready answers. There must be some powerful attraction in having people repeatedly comment on how beautiful your home is. I wouldn't know about that.
The buildings are presented in the sequence I visited them with each followed by a picture or two of the interior. The first row is filled out with pictures of the 1844 Berry House. The worn stone threshold shows what 168 years worth of feet can do. Next is the 1862 Christian Church, the 1862 Methodist Church, and the 1848 Presbyterian Church which is now a rentable event center called The Vestry. Then it's the 1836 Hazlett House, 1837 Baptist Church (now the Town Hall), 1847 Davidson House, and 1838 Bernhard House. Actually that's a "half house". It was fairly common in those days to build a house with the entrance at one end then duplicate things on the other side of the door when the money came in. Jonas Bernhard was a wagon maker at a time when railroads were on the rise. The money for the left side never came in. It is believed that only six half houses remain in all of Ohio. The 1841 Hanauer House and a couple shots of the living nativity scene and luminaries at the Methodist Church wrap thing up. Nice job Morristown.
If you would like to comment on this Oddment, there is an associated blog entry here.
[Prev] [Site Home] [Oddment List] [Contact] [Next] television