The stately Greek Revival home known as the Lathrop House was the residence of Lucian and Larissa Lathrop.
The Lathrop family moved to Sylvania in 1848, and the house was built in 1850. A proud descendant of generations of abolitionists, Lucian Lathrop was an ordained minister of the Universalist Church, a denomination which maintained a strong anti-slavery stance. Larissa Titus Lathrop was raised in the Quaker faith, another sect with anti-slavery sympathies, and spent the first 42 years of her life in Rochester, New York, a hotbed of abolitionism.
While Lucian Lathrop served as a State Representative in the Ohio Legislature, he and his family also engaged in the outlawed activities of the Underground Railroad. The Lathrops along with neighbor David Harroun and his wife Clarissa Dodge Harroun, worked together as part of the Underground Railroad. David would bring fugitive slaves in a false bottomed wagon from nearby Maumee to Sylvania.
Journeying northward to Canada and freedom, the escapees were sheltered in the Harroun farmhouse or barn or in a hidden area of the fireplace in the Lathrop kitchen, accessed through a brick oven. It was during a 1939 remodel that the owners uncovered the secret space.
The Lathrop House was one of many locations that were scattered throughout the state of Ohio where men, women and children fleeing slavery found shelter and safety. Harboring runaway slaves was illegal in America after the passage of the Fugitive Slave Law of 1850. Despite the consequences, abolitionists around the state continued to assist fleeing slaves in their journey to freedom. “Conductors” directed the escapees to the next safe house, barn, or business as they ventured ever northward. Several major routes of escape developed during this period. One of those began near Cincinnati and followed the Miami & Erie Canal north towards the western end of Lake Erie and towns of Maumee, Perrysburg, Toledo and Sylvania. From there, the former slaves journeyed to Adrian or Detroit and then across the water to Canada.
Today the lower level of the home is open to guests on Sundays April through early November from 1:00 – 4:00 PM or by appointment.
The Lathrop House also provides on site or in the classroom educational programs. See Educational Programs for more information.
Guests can learn more about the important role Ohio played in the Underground Railroad and see the secret hiding room of the Lathrop House. In the summer, we present a series of special events including a Reading of the Declaration of Independence on the Fourth of July and the Celebration of Freedom on the first Saturday in August. For more information, visit our Events Calendar